James Turner chats with Ash vs. Evil Dead stars Arielle Carver-O’Neill and Lindsay Farris…
Ash vs. Evil Dead is back for another season of hilarious, blood soaked action. Along for the ride are two new faces. Arielle Carver O’Neill, who plays Ash’s daughter Brandy, and Lindsay Farris, who plays Dalton, a member of the mysterious Knights of Sumeria. Naturally, my first question to the two of them was…
What’s it like jumping in with this amazing cast as the new kids on the block?
Arielle Carver-O’Neil: A bit daunting at first, but once I met them all I saw that they’re very lovely and generous actors. I felt totally supported the whole time. So despite seeming like a scary thing at first I actually had a lot of fun and felt very welcomed from the beginning. The first thing Bruce told me when I met him was ‘If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.’ I remembered that the entire time and just tried to have fun and a great experience and do my best. And it really did end up being a wonderful time. I loved the entire cast and crew
Lindsay Farris: Well I grew up with The Evil Dead – I probably saw it when I was fourteen. My Grandmother used to show me and my uncle two films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead. It was a kind of bonding experience because the rest of my family hated horror. But those two films really set the precedent for me, for my love of this kind of prosthetic, live blood and guts sort of horror. Things like Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (Braindead in the UK I think) where you’ve got this guy with a lawnmower just throwing buckets of pink pudding on everyone. That was the kind of world I fell in love with. So to walk into the television set for Ash vs Evil Dead twenty years later was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I mean that cabin is literally built right in front of you, twenty years later and… it’s just something you couldn’t even begin to imagine when you’re a kid.
LF: And one of the beautiful things is that you’ve got Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Bruce Campbell still involved, helming the mythology and the world so that everything is really loyal to those original three films. And that really means that you’re there, in the world.
So obviously you had massive respect for Bruce Campbell coming in to filming, perhaps even a hero worship. Please tell me he didn’t disappoint!
LF: Not at all, my man, not at all! You know, one of the beautiful things about my character Dalton is that he’s a bit of a fanboy too. He’s come from this ancient order of knights that have these stories about that they’ve passed down for years, but when he joins the Ghostbeaters he has no idea what to expect. He’s heard that Ash is the prophesised one and the first thing he does is take a knee, cos he’s in fanboy world as well. And Bruce Campbell is exactly the same for me. It was a no acting required moment. That scene might as well have been my audition, man! I was just like ‘Oh My!’ He’s just such a huge presence that you feel him when he walks on the set. He has this energy, and he totally has your back. And those one liners, he delivers them once and boom, that’s it. He nails them. Then he’s just out of there and you’re just going ‘How did you do that?’
I take it the hardest part about being on set then is just trying to keep a straight face while he’s being so funny?
LF: One-hundred percent, man. One hundred percent. No one drops a punchline like Bruce Campbell.
Arielle, were you a fan of the original Evil Dead movies?
AC: Honestly, it was more the new seasons that got me interested because I grew up not being a horror girl. I was traumatised when I saw Scary Movie, and I know that’s meant to be a comedy but it scared the crap out of me. So I didn’t watch horror for a really long time. I knew of the Evil Dead movies, of course – everyone does – but I never actually sat down to watch them. When I got the audition for the show I was like, ‘I should probably watch these and do my research’. I was prepared to be scared out of my mind and not be able to get through it. But it was so entertaining and unlike anything I’d ever seen. It had horror, it had gore, but also it was hilarious and ridiculous and it didn’t take itself too seriously. That’s what grabbed me and made it really watchable. It actually made me a fan of horror! I guess it changed my life.
How much did your research influence the way you played Brandy? Did you try to model her after Ash and his character development, or did you want to really push her in a new direction?
AC: I’d say somewhere in between. I didn’t want her to be a caricature of a female version of Ash; I wanted her to be her own person. She didn’t actually grow up with Ash, so I figured it was only right to make her different. Though they do have some similarities and that means they have their little moments that show their similarity. Their sense of humour is very similar, though she’s a little smarter than he is, I must say. They’ve also both got a very stubborn nature, and they both act first and think much much later.
I think I know the answer to this next question but I have to ask it anyway: Were you used to being covered in that much blood?
AC: I don’t think anyone can ever get used to getting covered in that much blood. It was really fun though! Getting hit by a blood cannon gives you a big adrenaline rush, I recommend it to everybody. At least once in your life get hit by a blood cannon.
AC: The way it works is they get a high-pressure air tank that’s attached to a hose that’s attached to a container full of blood. And there’s this very happy guy at the end of the hose, who’s the visual effects coordinator, and his favourite part of the job is to spray people with high pressure blood. It’s loud, they do a countdown, and you try and act like nothing’s going to happen. Then you hear them yell ‘Three, two, one!’ and then all of a sudden there’s a ridiculous amount of blood. It’s like standing in a shower and facing right into the showerhead, but a lot harder. It’s cold and sticky, and there’s nothing that can prepare you for it. You can’t act while you’re having that done. You can’t control your face. It’s genuine shock every time. I think everyone should do it once, but I had to do it eight times.
What for you was the most memorable thing about the making of Ash vs Evil Dead season three? Any favourite moments that you can’t wait to share with the world?
AC: There’s a few actually, but I can’t share them without spoiling anything. You’ll just have to wait and see.
LF: I think it was probably the challenge. The amount of action, horror, comedy, blood and gore that are jammed in to each of those twenty-four minutes of television is beyond anything I’ve experienced before. You know, my character rides a motorcycle, I ride a motorcycle, and that was probably the only thing that I had down already, but everything else was just this massive stunt training experience where I’m learning how to do flips and fire a sub-machine gun, and a shotgun, and a pistol whilst doing a flip, riding a motorbike, and then doing a backflip off it and landing under a car. It’s an absolute honour and a privilege to do, but it’s also incredibly challenging. But overall, it’s just such an enjoyable experience; there’s really nothing like it. You won’t get that on the set of a domestic drama!
While we’re on the subject of stunts, I saw that Bruce said he likes to stand there and look pretty while the stuntmen do the hard work. I take it by what you just said that you don’t follow the same philosophy.
LF: [Laughing] Yeah I wanted to do all my stunts myself. I had this amazing team behind me and they knew that I was on it and ready and that I wanted to nail everything. I remember one really funny moment where me and Dana DeLorenzo were running through this really deep, emotional scene, and suddenly this stunt guy comes up and taps me and says, ‘Hey Lindsay, how are you doing?’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, good good. What are you up to?’ and then all of a sudden these lights start coming on, and they start putting the crash mats out, this truck starts beeping and reversing up and they stick these shin pads on me and I’m still trying to run the lines, and then this stunt rehearsal just comes out of bush and bang, we’re into it” [he breathes]. “And the stunt team were so good. They always had your back. Funnily enough, the hardest part about it was being outside with all the leaves and sticks and all sorts of crap flying around, because they get in the way of the camera. So actually the hardest part about doing stunts is getting it shot. The stunt team there are so good though, and they try and let me do as much of it as I can on my own.
AC: I love to get in there and break things, but I didn’t really have much of a choice. I got to do some things. I got to do the fights, but there were a few tumbles and falls that my amazing stunt double did. She was incredible. I was watching going ‘you know what? I could not do that any better’. She’s really fantastic. I’m very grateful for her. I love watching the stuff that the stunt team do because they really are so incredible and inspiring. It makes your jaw drop.
How do you think you’d react if Ash really was your father, Arielle?
AC: Probably similarly to Brandy. I’d not be convinced by him straight away. I don’t think I’d trust him. You know, he’s a one-handed guy who wears a chainsaw on his stump and yells that it wasn’t him it was the demons that killed his friends. I think after all that I’d take quite a bit of convincing. I mean Brandy and Ash’s relationship goes on a bit of a journey, and she learns that she does have some similarities to Ash and that he’s not really this crazy, borderline alcoholic that she thinks he is in the beginning.
Obviously, you guys all have amazing chemistry on screen, and from what I understand you all get along really well in real life too. So I’ve got to ask: when you go out and hit the dancefloor, who’s a total Deadite, and who’s totally groovy?
LF: Wow, that’s a good question. Err, I have to say no one does groovy quite like Ash Williams, Bruce Campbell. As for Deadites? Deadites are so fun and crazy that… perhaps it’s me! But all the Ghostbeaters, they’re some of the grooviest people I know.
AC: Ooh, I don’t think any of us are Deadites. I think we’re all pretty damn groovy. I mean Dana is fantastic, I love Dana so much, yeah, she’s got some serious moves. She’s hardcore groovy.
Ash vs Evil Dead season three premieres on February 25th. Catch it on the Starz network.
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor