Evil Dead Star Bruce Campbell Holds Firm on Physical Ash Retirement
Evil Dead fans are among the most passionate in all of pop culture and it's not a statement taken lightly because of how of its success is due to franchise star Bruce Campbell, who's always had some physical presence in some form from its humble beginnings with director Sam Raimi in the 1981 film to the Starz! TV series 30 years later. Following the cancellation of Ash vs. Evil Dead in 2018 after three seasons, the actor called it quits retiring physically from Ash J. Williams. While promoting his latest film, the horror-comedy Black Friday, Campbell spoke with Collider about standing firm by his decision.
While Campbell has since reprised the role lending his voice for the Evil Dead videogame along with his TV series co-stars Dana DeLorenzo (Kelly) and Ray Santiago (Pablo), the actor broke down the grueling physical demands of playing Ash and his continued involvement in the franchise creatively as executive producer including the upcoming film for HBO Max. "I'm done playing Ash, so that determines a lot of where we go with the franchise without that character, but there are more stories," he said. "We're doing it book-focused these days. That darn book gets around, and that's how we play it. That book wound up in an urban environment with a single mom, so let's see what happens. It's fun to fiddle with it. There's not gonna be any traditional form of Evil Dead anymore. Ash is gone. I've retired the character because I physically just can't do him anymore, so why bother? Why do I do it? It's time to hang up the chainsaw. But we still are filmmakers, we're still producers, we're still creative-type dudes, so we were like, 'How do we keep this going otherwise?' Sam [Raimi] handpicked Fede Alvarez to do the remake a few years ago. He handpicked Lee Cronin for this one. These are Sam Raimi protégés that we hope will do a good job."
Everything Campbell wanted to do with the character, he did in Ash vs. Evil Dead. "No. Whatever the cliched phrase is, I left it all on table," he said. "I've got nothing else to give. The three seasons were the longest seasons of my life. If you saw the emails pleading with various directors that were like, 'Hey, my knee's not working right. Be careful about tomorrow. Let's have the stunt guy nearby. Hey, I can't run anymore.' It just was an endless physical struggle. I'm really glad we did it because we saw Ash's home, we went into his bedroom, we met his girlfriends, we met his daughter that we never knew he had and that he never knew he had, and we met his father, played by the great Lee Majors. I feel we really pushed all the buttons and he fulfilled his destiny written in that ancient book. He was the guy destined to defeat evil in the past, present and future, and he took off with a hot robot chick at the end to go kick in the future. What else do you need? We knew the ratings were bad. We knew, going into the last season, that we had to have an end because we didn't think Starz was gonna re-up us and we were right. So, thank God we did that."
Alvarez was the one behind the 2013 reboot that starred Jane Levy playing Mia that took another young group to meet their grisly fate at a cabin. Cronin's film Evil Dead Rise will focus on a pair of estranged sisters played by Lilly Sullivan and Alyssa Sutherland. Campbell said the new film will take the story out of the cabin and we learned how the Necronomicon traveled over the years cursing each owner.
A road-weary Beth pays an overdue visit to her older sister Ellie, who is raising three kids on her own in a cramped L.A apartment. The sisters' reunion is cut short by the discovery of a mysterious book deep in the bowels of Ellie's building, giving rise to flesh-possessing demons, and thrusting Beth into a primal battle for survival as she is faced with the most nightmarish version of motherhood imaginable.