It’s been a long time coming, but Ash is back, baby! Season three of Ash vs Evil Dead debuted more than a year after the end of season two and brought with it some fresh new faces. We caught up with the cast at New York Comic Con last year, where the first episode of season three debuted at the panel, to discuss what fans can expect from the latest season.
First and foremost, there are some new kids on set – one of which is playing an actual kid, Ash’s daughter! Bruce Campbell teased that fatherhood might actually force Ash to have some emotions this season before confessing that there were some surprisingly difficult scenes to film with Arielle Carver-O’Neill, who plays Brandy. Because of her family connections to Ash, she’s in danger from the moment she comes on screen until the season ends and she quickly becomes Ash’s number one priority.
The reveal of Ash’s daughter brought a new depth to Campbell’s portrayal and gave him new material to explore. He admitted, “This satisfied me for the whole season.” Campbell talked about investing in characters like Ash for television and how the show has to evolve in order to keep their audience coming back weekly. Ash wants the same answers that audiences do and Campbell divulged that we’ll see him at his breaking point this season. There’s a point where maybe Ash thinks he can’t do this anymore.
When asked about translating the character of Ash for television audiences, Bruce Campbell had no mental concerns about it – only the physical ones. Playing the role of Ash gets harder every year, “so we should kill him pretty soon!” During the filming of season two, Campbell tore a hamstring, but for season three, he mostly did harness work where he was trussed up in a near-corset.
Portraying Ash for so long has given Campbell the chance to watch special effects in horror evolve over the years, but “fake blood still tastes like shit.” Fortunately, they’ve gotten better at the delivery systems – with different nozzles to control what kind of blood spray effects they get. Or, like Campbell joked, gives actors the opportunity to go, “Shit, that’s a lot of blood!” He also stressed the fact that they can’t flinch even though they know what’s coming. Campbell flinched one time while filming season two and they had to edit around it for the show.
As far as any more old foes making an appearance in the series, Campbell’s not sure who is left at this point. If they’re allowed a season four, everything will be radically different anyway, which was one of the more ominous statements echoed by the rest of the cast as well.
Campbell did take the time to appreciate Ash’s success and why audiences are still celebrating him through film and television: he’s you. Ash has no special skills and he’s a flawed mortal who is doing the best he can. In his words, “It actually has made it more interesting to me because he’s not able to do the job anymore… The guy drinks, smokes, angel dust, he’s got lots of bad habits and this is the guy who has to save the world! I think that’s fantastic. If Ash was this amazing, physically skilled guy, it wouldn’t be as threatening. He’s just an old geezer now trying to save the world.
As for Pablo this season, Ray Santiago said, “Evil sees Pablo differently this season and Pablo sees things very differently this season.” Pablo’s relationship to the Brujo and the Necronomicon are explored, as well as if it was coincidence or fate that he worked in that store with Ash. Santiago spent four hours every day for three weeks in hair and makeup getting prosthetics put in place for this season, so big things are afoot! He got to speak with the showrunner and contributed a lot of ideas about his character that were incorporated into the show.
Not only are Pablo’s internal struggles explored for season three, but his relationships to the other characters on the show also evolve. The will-they-won’t-they situation with Kelly is still happening, but the new characters on the show change things. Santiago questions what happens if Pablo falls for Brandy, Ash’s daughter, or if she can be trusted or if something happens to her? There are tons of questions – even leaving out the question of jealousy – and Santiago promises some answers during the season.
This season, Santiago also did his best to sneak some of his own homages into the show, including Michael Jackson, Nightmare on Elm Street, Gremlins, and a few more that audiences will have to keep a keen eye out for.
But the biggest thing that Santiago took from filming season three of the show was his newfound love for New Zealand. He explained, “I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to be somebody else. In being other people, you get the opportunity to be who you really are, but with somebody else’s words… And in doing that, you get to find yourself… The problem is now when I come back to LA, I’m like okay, who am I? For the first time in my life, I don’t like LA. I’ve evolved as a person, as well as the character. Pablo started out as this naive guy who saw beyond Ash’s flaws and was trying to connect the dots of what he had been told as a kid and now he’s moved on from just a sidekick in a lot of ways… I hate how soft he is, but it’s a perfect balance to Kelly, it’s a perfect balance to Ash, and in a lot of ways I think that we are a family.”
Speaking of Kelly, Dana DeLorenzo made up her own riddle to tease what happens to her character this season, “She gets very mouthy.” She couldn’t share more than that for fear of spoiling it, but she did say there are more prosthetics involved this season. DeLorenzo also told the story of breaking the prosthetic hand from season two by being overzealous in her acting.
DeLorenzo also spoke of an homage this season that she’s proud of, as Kelly has a showdown with evil that is reminiscent of Kill Bill. Kelly’s torture is more a mental game because the worst thing you can do to her is telling her that she can’t fight evil. In DeLorenzo’s mind, Kelly needs that fight in order to give her life meaning. She’s fueled by revenge, but if she ever gets it, what does she have left?
Her agency in this season allows for Kelly to just go or it against evil. DeLorenzo promises, “She’ll always find a way to bust some chops and throw in a sarcastic one-liner, but her situation is actually very not funny. But she’s got gusto, she’s going in guns blazing on her horse… marching to the beat of her own drum right into battle. She is a warrior and no matter what, when you go after what you want, no matter how it ends, you’re going to get what you came for.” Whether or not that’s a good thing, audiences will have to find out throughout the season. Kelly will be forever changed by season three, least of all because she learns how to speak one whole complete sentence without dropping the f-bomb once.
When it comes to the new blood on the show, DeLorenzo connected spectacularly with both the actors and the characters they brought. Kelly sees a lot of similarities between herself and Brandy – her mom died from evil, she thinks Ash is an idiot too – and she’s the one trying to bring Brandy into the fold. Being the cheerleader is a new role for Kelly, who usually leaves that to Pablo, but it creates a unique and interesting bond between the two characters.
And when it comes to Dalton, who is portrayed by Lindsay Farris, there’s a beautiful dynamic between him and Kelly that also affects her relationship with Pablo in an interesting and real way. DeLorenzo was also glad that she and Santiago weren’t the new kids on the set anymore because Farris and Carver-O’Neill got all the torture!
Introducing Brandy, Arielle Carver-O’Neill described her as “incredibly strong-willed, driven, reckless, stubborn… she’s got the same sense of humor as Ash.” What’s the difference? She’s smarter. It takes her some time to adjust to her father as a crazy, chainsaw-wielding demon-fighter. The relationship on screen is an incredible journey though, one where audiences get to watch Brandy become emotionally, mentally, and physically stronger. As each episode is a day, her growth occurs over ten days.
Lindsay Farris, who is a lifelong fan of the Evil Dead franchise, revealed that Dalton is one of the Knights of Sumeria. It’s a modern update on the characters audiences last saw running around on horses with swords. Dalton gets a motorcycle and a shotgun and is ready to turn all of his theoretical knowledge of deadites into practice. He’s also a massive fanboy of Ash’s because he was raised on the mythology surrounding him. Farris obviously didn’t have any trouble acting on his fanboy feelings.
Dana DeLorenzo may have joked about hazing the new kids, but Carver-O’Neill revealed that she had eight blood cannons during the filming of ten episodes – which is a crazy amount of times to be covered in blood! Her experience with it really brought what Bruce Campbell was talking about with the evolution of special effects into a new perspective. Imagine the thirteen-second long take of this happening nonstop.
She explained, “It’s an interesting experience. There’s nothing that can prepare you for it and you can’t control what you do once it happens because there is so much adrenaline that is going through your body. It’s the only time you get to do it and if you mess it up, you’re screwed. There’s a loud noise. They have a high-pressure tank that pushes the blood out and then they have another tank that sometimes looks like a keg of fake blood. And then there’s a guy looking super happy there, holding either a big pipe and you’re just looking down this black hole, or a tiny little pipe maybe at your face. And you’re just waiting for the moment when it hits and I have no idea what my face was doing any of those eight times, but it was real.”
At least for all of that blood, Carver-O’Neill was able to stretch her acting chops on the show. In talking to Campbell, she said that Ash vs Evil Dead is perfect because, “One day you’ll show up to work and be in an action movie, where you have to run up and down things and be doing stunts and things; the next it’s a drama where you’re crying because your mum’s been decapitated in front of you all day, and then the next it’s a comedy, which it is a lot of the time… And then you’re learning how to use wires and you’re learning how to use prosthetic makeup and how to incorporate that into a performance. It’s incredible the amount that you learn on a show like this and I don’t think that there is another show like this.”
Farris felt fortunate to be given the opportunity to help evolve the mythos of the show, as well as really contribute to the decisions being made and how interested people are in hearing about the actor’s thoughts on their character. As the new guys on set, they were really embraced and formed strong bonds with the veterans on the show.