Lucy Lawless is back as Ruby opposite Bruce Campbell as Ash in season two of Starz’ Ash vs Evil Dead, the horror series based on the Evil Dead film franchise. Ash vs Evil Dead season two will arrive on September 23, 2016 and Starz brought the cast along with executive producer Rob Tapert to the San Diego Comic Con to discuss what fans of the horror comedy can expect when season two premieres. Real-life spouses Lawless and Tapert teamed up for interviews in which they talked about the possibility of more Evil Dead films and Ruby’s backstory.
Does the focus remain on more seasons of the show before a new movie?
Rob Tapert: “Yes, the focus is on more seasons of the show. Sam, bless him, talked about doing Evil Dead as a movie for many, many years and teased the fans forever and a day. Finally when the day came, we went, ‘Well, we think it might be better as a TV show.’ That was other people who thought that and Bruce really welcomed the idea and I welcomed the idea because Bruce said, ‘Look, I did three movies. I’m not certain I knew my last name so at least in a TV show I get to explore the character and who he is and all that more.’ Is there a movie out there that we are thinking about that would continue on that would merge everything? There certainly are those thoughts starting to percolate.”
Would it crossover with Fede Alvarez’s movie, or could you address that in the TV show?
Rob Tapert: “I love Jane Levy so I would love to work with her again.”
How does letting Pandora’s box open affect Ruby’s relationship with Ash?
Lucy Lawless: “Things get away on her. She’s basically forced Pablo to birth these demon spawn and it all goes pear-shaped, so she finagles her way into Ash’s crew and teams up a little bit with Kelly, actually. There’s a bit of firepower going on, girl power. They go on a rampage so she’s kind of brought into the fold which just means you get shot with a lot more mucous. You get vomited on, you get blood, brain matter. That means you’re in the game, you’re in the family. We’ll see how that goes.”
Will we learn more about Ruby?
Lucy Lawless: “Yeah, she becomes a real character this season.”
Where does Ruby fit in your oeuvre of strong female lead characters?
Lucy Lawless: “That’s a good question. She’s in a way a little nastier. Like she chooses to be nasty where Lucretia was a bad person but she really was left with no options. In the world that she lived in, I could justify it whereas Ruby’s just mean as a snake. So you’ll get to see her softening and then you get to see payback for that.”
Do you prefer playing that range, being able to be nasty?
Lucy Lawless: “Not necessarily but if I’m playing a ‘good’ character, I always look for the qualities in them that are not so pleasant just to get tension and make somebody watchable. To play somebody who’s wholly good is a bore. I’d hate that, or wholly bad. Every bad character has to have redemptive qualities and every good character has to have a little grit. Otherwise who gives a damn?”
Were you a little worried when Ruby “died” in episode five or six?
Lucy Lawless: “I can’t remember a character I played that didn’t die. So, no.”
Rob Tapert: “Number Three died a lot of times in Battlestar. You died a lotta times as Xena.”
Lucy Lawless: “Xena, Lucretia.”
What was the biggest surprise for each of you filming the first season?
Rob Tapert: “I can say from a creative point of view, the show was harder than I ever thought it would be and I think we were all surprised that it was hard. Hard adapting these small movies into television shows that want to cram as much as you can in a half hour. So it was a real clash of what works in horror, which was telling a small story in a very elongated fashion, as opposed to a very big story in a compacted fashion. That’s been a creative challenge.”
Lucy Lawless: “Particularly this season has been so massive and so high octane, the cuts are really fast. We’re shooting maybe more footage than we ever did on even Spartacus, but it’s crunched down into just a half hour to get that pace. If this show was an hour long, it would be drudgery.”
How much fun was it working with Bruce Campbell again?
Lucy Lawless: “Oh, wonderful. He’s kind of like my rotten handsome cousin. He was kind of my mentor in terms of how to behave as a star starting out. Rob paired me up with him. I was really bewildered. ‘Why is Mr. Tapert making me go out with his buddy from college?’ It was to teach me not to be a pain in the ass.”
Rob Tapert: “He taught her well.”
Does having that family atmosphere bring something special to a project like this?
Rob Tapert: “It brings something special and it also sets a base rule about how you can act. Meaning we’re all in this together. We all want the best product. It takes away any room for bad behavior.”
Lucy Lawless: “This is a theme in Rob’s shows.”
Rob Tapert: “No bad behavior. Shows are hard enough. In that regard, it’s been great. It was great having Sam [Raimi] when he did the first episode, the three of us back together. This season we’ve got Ted Raimi and suddenly, without trying to give away spoilers, Bruce and Ted and myself found ourselves back in 1986 in the exact same scene, at the exact same moment going, ‘Oh my God, what has happened to our life?'”
And adding Lee Majors?
Rob Tapert: “Lee was great.”
Lucy Lawless: “Lee Majors, man! The most famous guy in the world at that time, the most famous couple, him and Farrah. Are you too young to know all this? I’m old enough. Lee, his character really explains Ash and he makes Ash look like a gentleman, like a triumph of nature over nurture because Brock is a pig. He’s a chauvinist. He’s got a bit of a fetish. You can quiz him about that. I’m not sure how much he’ll tell you. And they’re highly competitive for the ladies, which the father wins.”
Was creating that character a chance to explore how Ash could have turned out?
Rob Tapert: “You know what, it was really a way of grounding Ash and trying to pull him back into the real world and giving him an antagonist to rub up against. Because that’s what really works about the series, Ash finding himself in a situation, finding himself blocked. What is he going to do? Dad is something, as we all know, parents are something that a lot of baggage goes into that relationship so that was really just a great antagonist in a different way. You learn hey, nobody believed him and they all blamed him for getting his sister killed and a bunch of other kids killed. Why he never went to jail, we never answer.”
Is there a theme to season two?
Rob Tapert: “Going home.”
Is there a balance of scope you try and maintain, making it more intimate and horrific as opposed to bigger and bombastic?
Rob Tapert: “Yes. It’s a very hard road to walk and we get scripts that are way too big and we have to figure out how do we get the small intimate stuff, Ash alone against the evil, that’s the franchise, versus a lot of character stuff, a lot of Ruby. So how do we get all of these elements and balance them right for the ultimate audience entertainment and enjoyment. It’s the balancing act we’re constantly looking at and measuring, going, ‘Throw this out, add this in.'”
Lucy Lawless: “This season’s much bigger. It’s really much bigger. When you see the trailer, you’ll get a sense of the kind of — and we were surprised, weren’t we, just how massive it is.”