It’s been a while since we’ve been as excited about a new show as we are about Ash vs Evil Dead, which expands the world of Sam Raimi’s movies with humor, horror, and so much glorious Bruce Campbell. We spoke with executive producer Craig DiGregorio to learn what’s next for the show.
Spoiler warning: if you’re not caught up on the first three episodes, the below exclusive clip from episode four, “Brujo,” does reveal some important information about Lucy Lawless’ very mysterious character. But if you’re not caught up, what are you waiting for? This show is so goddamn entertaining, seriously.
io9: The show’s aired three episodes so far, and everyone we’ve talked to is loving it. What feedback have you gotten?
Craig DiGregorio: I’ve been very happy with what I’ve been hearing. But you never want to base anything on just criticism or fan reaction or whatever. It’s hard, because there are so many avenues from which critiques can come. You want to take them all in and use them for what they’re worth, but also do the best version of the show that you want to do—so, not necessarily always let things push you in one direction or another. You need to have the direction you want to go, and maybe realizing what fans like or don’t like can help comment on that.
But I don’t think it would be wise to just say, “Oh yeah, fans love the show, so we’re doing exactly the right thing!” You always want to make it better. But I guess I’m my own worst critic, because I always think that everything could be a million times better. I love that people love the show. But season two is going to be even better.
How much input does Bruce Campbell have on his character, and on the show overall?
He has a lot of input, but it all comes from a place of wanting to be collaborative. He, more than anyone, knows the character’s voice, and thankfully it’s a character who has a very distinctive voice, so it’s easier than writing for someone with just a very vanilla voice. There are specific ways that Ash speaks, and it’s fun to write that way. But Bruce will always chime in—when we started season two, he sent me a bunch of ideas as far as what the season could be. I had already been working on the bigger plan for season two, and it was a nice coincidence that a lot of the stuff that he sent, and a lot of the stuff we’d been working on, were very similar. As far as the universe of the show goes, we’re on the same page in terms of where we want it to head. He is a team player who wants to help out as much as he can—and his ideas are always really good.
We’re used to seeing Ash fight Deadites and other beasties, but Ash vs Evil Dead introduces a human adversary in the form of Lucy Lawless’ character, Ruby, who we really get to know in episode four. (See clip below.) Why did you want to include this character in the show?
That’s tough because something you asked in the question isn’t necessarily true. I don’t want to give too much away! You can read into that as you will.
We knew we wanted this character who was connected back to the original mythology, whose parents and sibling died out in the cabin—and what she would come to think of Ash after all those years, and trying to hunt him down. There’s more to her character that you’ll see as the series goes on. I know when you cast someone like Lucy in the show, you want her to be front and center all the time. But the plan we had for that character was a little more below the surface for a few episodes—we had to sort of slow-play her for a little while.
Also without giving too much away, “Brujo” features a sequence where Ash kind of travels into another dimension. Will that become a recurring feature, or will most of the action take place in the “real world”?
Most of the show takes place in the real world. But we can hop around and do pretty much anything in the show. One of the great things about the show, and one of the challenges, is that there are a lot of answers. There are a lot of ways to break a story and a lot of things that Ash can do. So there’s always a ton of talking about, “What’s the most fun situation to put him in? What’s the most Evil Dead situation to put him in?” To me, he functions best against the real world, because he’s the crazy one in it.
But it is fun to take him out of it every now and then. In season two, we’re breaking a couple of things that don’t necessarily take place here or now. There are a lot of ways to have the majority of the season in the real world, but also have fun tangents.
Where are you guys at in terms of season two?
We’re writing, and then we’re going to film it in the first and second quarter of next year. Then Starz is going to air it sometime later next year.
Is the first season going to wrap up the story with the Book, or will that continue on? Can you give us any hints about season two?
The first season wraps up everything and it also wraps up nothing. Or rather, it does wrap up something, but it also leaves something else much more open-ended. It’s hard to comment on that—it’s Evil Dead, so you’re never going to be done with the book, necessarily. But I guess if I were to think of it a certain way, it’s all about this character, Ash, and does he ever truly learn? Can he get out of his own way? That’s the question that we’re talking about more than anything else.
He’s more a reluctant hero than an actual hero. And he’s never had a real relationship where he’s cared about someone. The first season is about him starting to care about Pablo and Kelly, his sidekicks, and treating them as his family. Toward the end of the season, there are some decisions that Ash has to make which either show he’s grown three percent as a person and can have relationships with people, or maybe didn’t grow at all. So we’ll see.
It seems like Starz has given the show a lot of freedom to be as dirty (that first-ep bathroom sex scene) and as gory (exploding heads!) as you want to be. Have you had to cut anything for TV?
No, it’s been unfettered. We can do pretty much whatever we want.
What’s the breakdown in terms of CGI effects versus practical effects on the show?
It is a time issue sometimes. We want to have as much as we can be practical, but sometimes you get something back and there wasn’t enough over-the-top gore in it and you want to add more. Practical effects take more time to execute then if you were to just film something and say “Let’s put that in later.” We try to do as much we can, practically. But I’ve also heard that while people don’t always love the CGI effects, on this show they’re done in such a way that there’s a wink to it, a little bit. I think people can interpret that however they will ... but I don’t think what we’re going for is photo-realistic CGI all the time. I think there’s a world where this show lives, and our CGI also lives in that world.
Aesthetically, the world of the show incorporates everything that Ash was into 30 years ago, even though it takes place in the present day: the music, his car, and so forth.
I’ve said this before, but to me, the most effective way to watch the show is as if you’re in 1985. [Laughs] I think it’s such a throwback piece, and it’s done that way on purpose, and it does harken back to that time when the Evil Dead movies were popular and in the zeitgeist. It has such a look to it, and such a feel to it, that you almost get whisked back to a certain time.
Ash vs Evil Dead airs Saturday nights on Starz.