IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bruce Campbell Talks 'Evil Dead' Remake and 'Army of Darkness 2'

Thursday, 04 April 2013 20:13 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bruce Campbell Talks 'Evil Dead' Remake and 'Army of Darkness 2'

There is only one word that can accurately describe actor/producer Bruce Campbell … groovy!

Campbell has appeared in numerous film projects including Crimewave, Maniac Cop, Mindwarp, The Hudsucker Proxy, Congo, Fargo, Escape from L.A., McHale’s Navy, The Love Bug, The Majestic, the Spider-Man series, Bubba Ho-tep, Serving Sara, The Ladykillers, Sky High, My Name is Bruce, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Cars 2, and most recently Oz the Great and Powerful. Not to mention the actor has also starred on several popular TV series including The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Xena: Warrior Princess, and the long running USA spy series Burn Notice, which is now going into its seventh season. 

But without a doubt, Campbell is best known by fans for his film first role as Ashley J. “Ash” Williams in director Sam Raimi’s groundbreaking horror classic The Evil Dead, as well as its two sequels Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, and Army of Darkness, which he also produced along with Raimi and Robert Tapert. Now, with rumors of a possible sequel to Army of Darkness on the horizon, the trio has returned to produce Evil Dead, which is a remake of the classic film and opens in theaters on April 5th. 

The new movie is a straight horror remake of the original and does not include any of the comedic or fantasy elements of the later series. It was directed by Fede Alvarez and based on a script by himself, Rodo Sayagues, and Oscar-winner Diablo Cody (Juno). The new film centers on five friends that head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival. The cast includes Jane Levy (Nobody Walks), Shiloh Fernandez (Skateland), Lou Taylor Pucci (Beginners), Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield), and newcomer Elizabeth Blackmore

Last weekend at WonderCon in Anaheim, California, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with actor/producer and all-around groovy guy Bruce Campbell to talk about his role as a producer on Evil Dead, as well as the rumored sequel to Army of Darkness. The fan-favorite actor discussed the new movie, why they wanted to produce a remake, the decision to make it a straight horror film and not include any comedic or fantasy elements, Campbell, Raimi and Tapert’s role as producers on the film, if it should be considered a continuation of the original franchise or it’s own stand-alone series, Campbell’s possible end credit cameo, Diablo Cody’s contributions to the script, as well as Army of Darkness 2, why he’s skeptical that it will ever get made, whether or not the film will be a continuation of the director’s cut or the theatrical ending, if he is excited to reprise his role as Ash, and if he’s pleased in the renewed interest in The Evil Dead franchise. 


Here is what the popular actor and producer had to say: 

IAR: To begin with, I’m a longtime fan of the series and I loved the new movie!

Bruce Campbell: We tried not to screw the fans. We tried to make it worth their while and worth their money. We think we’ve succeeded, but I don’t know? The fans will decide. 

I’m actually more of a fan of the later films in the trilogy that mixed in comedy and fantasy with the horror, so I was pleasantly surprised that I still loved the new remake as much as I did.

Campbell: Good because this is a remake of the first one. The first one is not funny. It wasn’t supposed to be funny. Parts became funny. But it was time to get back to old school, slightly over the top horror. 


Was that important to you that this film be a straight remake of the original horror movie and not mix in the comedic and fantasy elements from the later films in the series?

Campbell: Yea, because if you are talking about the first one ... the first one didn’t have those elements. It was a ghost story and a monster movie. I’m glad the tone is like that. Look, The Evil Dead, the tones of those movies evolved over like a twelve-year period. We intended to make a straight horror movie with the first one. With the second one we wanted to challenge ourselves and do things that we were more interested in. We were big Three Stooges fans so it became more like “splat-stick,” and carnage with a little bit of humor. Army of Darkness is basically an adventure story. So tone wise we thought, just stick with the first one. When Fede writes the second one, which he is now, he can decide where he wants to go with it. We’re not dictating anything because the trilogy was never supposed to be a trilogy. There was never some overarching plan. We just made the movies as the opportunities came up. Just like if we do a sequel to Evil Dead it will be because the opportunity is there. 

How did you decide what elements from the first film, as well as the later ones, to include as Easter eggs for the fans in the new remake?

Campbell: Well, you got to have a scary book that shouldn’t be opening because that is the catalyst. You have to have an isolated location and five people who are going to suffer. That’s pretty much it. And not many people are getting out alive when the sun comes up. It’s sort of a one-night telling. But there are a lot of sound effects that fans will recognize that most people will not hear. There are a couple of things that I put in that only Sam Raimi would know. But they were from the original couple of movies. We digitized all the old sound effects because now we had access to them so I snuck a few zingers in there. 

I was also impressed how director Fede Alvarez was able to include specific shots that Sam Raimi used in the first movie, like the POV of the woods, yet still made them his own. Were you surprised that he did that?

Campbell: Sure, a little bit but it’s still very different from a Sam Raimi movie. It’s actually more reserved in a way. Sam went a little crazy in the first one because the character goes crazy so you sort of match the style of what’s happening. I think he did a great job and he definitely is his own guy. It’s what we wanted to do.


What was Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody’s contributions to the script?

Campbell: She did what we call a pass. Again, I don’t like any of those terms. She looked at it and brought a youthful eye because we’re all middle age men now with grown children. So I don’t know how young people talk any more, none of us do. And Fede is from Uruguay, he knows how Uruguayan young people talk. So it wasn’t about changing the story, or reinventing anything it was just to make it a little more grounded in reality and round out the characters a little bit.

Did she add the drug addict aspect of Mia’s character to the script?

Campbell: Well if you think about it, it is a way to do two things. One is that it is a reason to take people to an isolated place. Two, she’s behaving weird already, so it allows her to get more into her craziness where it’s too late. Where as if she wasn’t going through rehab they would have known something was wrong and that they’ve got to out of there. But by the time they find out something is wrong, it’s too damn late. So it serves that aspect really well. But that was all Fede, that wasn’t her idea. 

Without giving too much away, true fans of the franchise should stay through the end credits for a special cameo by someone from the original series. Was important for you to have that included in the film in some way?

Campbell: I ain’t commenting on anything. I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no. But Fede was adamant about giving some little treat to fans that sit all the way through the end credits when the lights are coming on and the guy is sweeping up. He wanted to put it there. So anyone who is an ardent fan, that wants to read every credit and cares about every inch of the film, will be rewarded in there own little way. 


Fede Alvarez has said that this film is a continuation of original movie set thirty years later with all new characters. Do you look at it that way?

Campbell: It’s just new. I don’t care what you call it. I hate all those dumb labels. Reimagining, rebirth, its just new. It’s a new Evil Dead for the fans because we didn’t know how long it would take to do our sequel. Sam’s making the biggest movies in Hollywood, and I’ve been doing a TV show for seven years. That’s how decades slip away. You know, Spider-Man was ten years out of his life and that was only one franchise. Oz could take another twelve more years, who knows? 

Can you talk about Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and your role as advisors on the film?

Campbell: We gave support where we felt they needed support, and admonishment where they needed to be admonished.

Did they need a lot of admonishment?

Campbell: Sam is very protective of his directors. He would tell Rob and me to chill out some times. He would say, “Stop bossing Fede around.” We would say, “But he’s blah, blah, blah,” and Sam would say, “Shut up, don’t worry about it. It’s not that big of a deal.” He let us chime in if it was a big deal. He had certain things that he wanted to make sure that were included. We all liked the fact that there is no Ash. So that we can preserve the ability to make our own film again someday, separate from Fede, and we are. So we are in that position to do that now. 


Since you have alluded to it, can you talk about the current status of Army of Darkness 2?

Campbell: There is no status. It’s all in Sam’s mouth right now. He claims he’s going to write Army of Darkness 2 this summer with his brother Ivan. Sam says a lot of things. Sam is the P.T. Barnum of the modern day.

You seem skeptical. Do you think the film might not really happen?

Campbell: Look I’m fine with it. The funny thing is Evil Dead could cause it to happen. If there is enough momentum from this, it does well and fans are that interested, then okay lets give it to them. Sam may want to do a different, smaller movie first.

Would this be a continuation of the Director’s Cut ending or the theatrical ending of Army of Darkness?

Campbell: Who the fuck knows? Nobody knows. 


Finally, are you looking forward to reprising your classic role as Ash?

Campbell: Nobody knows. These are all questions that aren’t worth answering because there are no answers. You could ask a thousand questions but I have zero answers for you. Just know that it has renewed a conversation about it and that’s all that is really true.

But you must be you pleased with all the renewed interest in the franchise, correct?

Campbell: It’s fine. Look I have nothing but good things to say about The Evil Dead movies. They got me into the business and got me going. So sure, another one, maybe, who knows? We’ll see. But we’ve all had other shit to do too. The last one was not done since ’91. That’s twenty-two years ago. That’s as long as my marriage and that’s a long marriage, twenty-two years. So it’s not like its fresh in our minds. Those are fading memories. It’s fresh to people who are watching them but the experience of making them is all random little snippets and images now. 

Evil Dead opens in theaters on April 5th.

To watch our exclusive interview with director Fede Alvarez and Jane Levy about Evil Dead and it's planned sequel, please click here



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