ash williams (bruce campbell) ruby cross (lucy lawless) in "ash vs. evil dead" season 2There's something to be said about comfort zones -- even on a horror series as seemingly dedicated to discomfort as "Ash vs. Evil Dead."

Behind the scenes of the fright fest -- a critical and ratings smash out of the gate last year for Starz, which launches its second season on Oct. 2 -- the show's star, Bruce Campbell, has been appearing on screen as lead character Ash Williams since 1981's acclaimed indie horror/comedy "The Evil Dead," originally made on a shoestring budget with his high school pal, director Sam Raimi, and produced by Raimi's college roommate, Rob Tapert.

Later in the 1990s, Tapert and Raimi produced the syndicated TV sensation "Xena: Warrior Princess," which starred actress Lucy Lawless in the lead role -- and she'd soon become Tapert's leading lady off-screen as well: the couple married in 1998. Campbell was no stranger to the "Xena" set either, frequently recurring as the scoundrel Autolycus and directing several episodes as well.

Professionally, the trio reunited once again to revive the cult-beloved "Evil Dead" franchise in television form, with Campbell playing an older but only incrementally wiser incarnation of Ash, Lawless entering Ash's universe as Ruby, the mysterious vengeance-minded occultist and/or Necronomicon-authoring Dark One on Ash's trail, and Tapert once again overseeing the supernatural mayhem. Their special blend of creative spellcraft combined to score yet another hit, prompting a return for a second season of Deadite destroying.

With so much shared history, any two of the group can easily anticipate, finish or trump the third's sentences, which made for a lively discussion when they joined Moviefone for a look ahead at the upcoming action, and a look back at all their behind-the-scenes adventuring together.

Moviefone: Obviously, you guys know well how to make this kind of stuff, you've got a great comfort level together after all these years. What were the fun discoveries of Season 1 -- the things you didn't see coming that were a real treat for you?

Rob Tapert: I think for Bruce and I originally, the fun discovery was we were actually going to get this made. So there was a --

Bruce Campbell: That was more of a shocking discovery!

Tapert: Yeah, a shocking discovery. There were a lot of hurdles to getting the show up and running.

Lucy Lawless: Just seeing them pull it off in the first few episodes I went, "Oh my God, this really does uphold the fans' fantasy recreation." It's a tall order!

Campbell: You never know if you're going to be able to do it. Or will they like your version of it? Are they good with a middle-aged Ash? Do they like the fact that he wears a man girdle and has dentures? Are they okay with that?

Lawless: Yes, they are!

Campbell: You've got to make sure that they're okay with that. They seem to be fine with that. So they'll get more of that.

What were the lessons from Season 1 that you wanted to apply to Season 2 -- and the way you wanted to throw curveballs at the audience, now that they think they know the show?

Tapert: That's a good question. The takeaways from Season 1 were that the audience was pretty forgiving of certain aspects of the storytelling, and they just wanted to be entertained, and they wanted to invest in the relationships a little more, so we've grown those going into the second season. They loved watching Ash on screen, so we put Bruce in every single frame --

Lawless: Surprise!

Campbell: And you surround me with young people, and that's what you do. So they can look at all the pretty young people, and Ash can be their titular leader.

Bruce and Lucy, so much of the first season kept the two of you apart. Is the twist we're going to see this time that you're going to be more in each other's faces?

Lawless: We're going to get married.

Campbell: Well, I think you've got to team up for the greater good sometimes. So there will be some of that aspect. Not necessarily being fishing buddies, but understanding that there's a greater need that's greater than her little petty problem.

Lawless: I feel a little sexual tension there, but more with his father. It's highly competitive.

Campbell: Ruby -- she'd let me in her pants if she had any respect for my character.

Lawless: Sadly.

Campbell: Currently -- awkward -- we're working on that. We'll see what happens.

Lawless: I get to avenge a personal slight, a personal problem I had with the original series. I don't know -- Rob probably knows. When I was 16, my first boyfriend's friends said, "Come over and watch on VHS -- we've got this cool 'Evil Dead' movie. It's classic, it's amazing!"

I was so disgusted by the first five minutes with the tree rape that I stomped off and said, "The people who made this movie are sick and they ought to be in jail!" Twelve years later I was married to one of them. But this season, me and that tree have got a date.

Are there other things from the original run that are going to be woven into the season?

Campbell: Interesting, surprise elements, yes. How could you not? Big ones.

You had to figure out what kind of measure in which to dole them out, I'm sure, over the course of the series.

Tapert: Yes. This season, actually, was screaming for a couple of those things. And as much as Ash returns to his home town, we got to meet his father, the relationships that came with that family -- going back to visit his father, his father had suffered a loss of their sister because of Ash, so there was a lot that allowed us to touch back into the original source material.

Campbell: Now you realize why Ash is such a jerk, because his father is a bigger jerk.

And in that, you scored the casting coup of the fall season with Lee Majors.

Campbell: I agree. No question about it.

Tell me about bringing him in, finding the right rapport with him.

Campbell: Well, you never know if you're going to have the rapport. We met on set. So it could have not happened. Plenty of actors have failed the chemistry test. But, in this case, I think we would have had a lot of respect for Lee because of what he did. And I think that showed. I think we try to take good care of him and not waste his time, and be appreciative. He got on board, I think he got the spirit of it, even when he was just covered in blood. He's not one of these guys who complains.

Lawless: Consummate professional. He's top-notch.

Campbell: Yeah, he's just done this for so long. Nothing phases him. And he's a pretty hearty son of a bitch. I mean, he's Lee Majors. He's a good presence to have. I just think audience members would go, "Of course that's his dad."

Tapert: It was interesting because we needed somebody in that role who was larger than life, but wasn't going to steal this show and turn it into a farce in any way, shape or form.

Lawless: Yeah, he falls into the world.

Campbell: Lee's persona is: he's the man, he's a manly man. He's a ladies man. He has hair on his chest. I mean, this guy's been in the tabloids. He's been through it. And that's perfect, because when you see him, you go, yeah! You know his history. You know all that. He's perfect for Ash's father. But, you never really know if they can pull it off either, on top of it. And Lee is very entertaining in that part, because I think he accepted it, and he's like, "Okay -- let's go for it."

Lawless: He can compete. He's a competitor.

Campbell: He's awesome. Yeah.

Lucy, your character, Ruby, got folded into the franchise very, very well, and very smoothly in the first season.

Lawless: Oh-so-subtly.

And she's still a mystery. So are we going to learn her quirks and her backstory?

Lawless: You're going to learn more than you ever wanted to.

Campbell: Much more. Ruby's part of the gang now. Just by screen time alone, you're going to learn more.

Lawless: Unfortunately, she's her own worst enemy, and we'll see how it all works out.

Campbell: It's an unlikely alliance of sorts that's hanging by a bit of a thread.

Lawless: It's a hanging chad of a relationship.

Campbell: A dimpled chad.

Tapert: Yeah. Yeah, we have fun with Ruby this season.

Tell me about bringing your old pal Ted Raimi into the mix.

Tapert: Ted was someone Bruce and I really wanted to get into the series at some point in time. And the writers had put this friend of Ash's called Chet in one of the scripts. But it really wasn't going anywhere. But I talked to Bruce and said, "Bruce, let's try and get him in this, and then we'll just force the writers to write for him." Bruce agreed.

So I called Ted and said, 'Hey Ted, there's like three lines in this one script, but we will push, and if you're in there, we will make sure that we get your character serviced. Whatever screen time you get, we will do everything to make the most out of it." So he agreed to come down playing multiple roles also, as he always does. And yeah, he filled the screen every time he was given the chance.

Campbell: And I needed someone to wash my car on Saturdays, and Ted has been very good about that.

Tapert: Lucy, you've probably worked with Ted more than anybody.

Lawless: Yeah, I have. he's a dream -- yeah, we all wanted him down. Like, "Please, get the band back together."

It's so rare, it seems, in Hollywood, to have the kind of history that you all share. You've gone on this journey, and not by ending up in a project that everybody's kind of tied to a franchise but because you want to work together, because you're friends -- and family, to varying degrees. Looking back at all of that history, what does it mean to you to have had that journey together?

Campbell: It is rare, but you don't think about it until people point it out. I've been looking at Rob's mug for coming up on 40 years now. I forget how easy it makes it, because we've always walked on other people's sets, and he doesn't know anybody. Lucy guest-stars on shows, I guest-star on shows, and you walk up and you don't really know anybody, and those producers could be a**holes, the director could be an idiot.

Lawless: It makes it a lot easier to sign on the dotted line [together].

Campbell: Yeah, because you kind of know what you're going to get. I know how Rob produces. I've got a sense of it. We're well taken care of. The thing is, do these people have your back based on what you do? You know, Lucy and I can make sure that the set's going to get shot. You get the two of us on set, it'll get shot. Rob doesn't have to worry about that, and then we don't have to worry about Rob providing the background personnel and all the people, the support people, to make it happen. It's a very complicated show.

Lawless: You know what the difference is? It's not always like this on other sets. But we're part of the crew. So getting the job done, we don't leave set, we hang around, we make sure that the day gets done. There's no running off to call my agent.

Campbell: You can predict that. And again, that's another thing that's very easy to take for granted. So thanks for reminding us every so often that it is special, it is different, it is unique. Because it's re-presented itself, I think both of us, Rob and I, realize we don't know how many more times this is going to go around. Let's give it a last hurrah. If this is the last of the "Evil Deads" that are ever going to be done, we both -- all of us here -- want to make sure it's memorable, and that it was worth it.

Lawless: And it was fun!

Campbell: It wound up being worth going through all that, to bring it all back again. Because sometimes you do it and the audience goes, "Eh." And then where are you? So we're thankful that we've come back and they have accepted us. So it makes it more of a relief. Going into this season, we knew we had the job already, you know what I mean? Now it's just keeping up expectations. Season 2: there are expectations.

Creatively, where do you start each season? Do you kind of look at each season like a massive movie?

Tapert: You know what, the last two seasons we've looked at as a season. So what is this season? How do we get through it? Now at the end of the second season, we're looking, "Okay, what could a bigger picture be? What could two or three seasons look like? Where do we want to get to eventually?"

Campbell: What if it all fits into a bigger puzzle?

Tapert: Yeah. There's a plus and minus to look for within, or "What does it all mean?" Because once you know where you're going, it's hard to do anything but go in that direction. You want to leave, creatively, the ability to explore different avenues, or kind of find your way in the darkness.

Campbell: And you still can, because if you have the big picture, you always know where you've got to get back to. If you take a little detour, that's fine. As long as you know where you're going. Because if the audience gets lost, you're doomed. They lose momentum.

For you, Bruce, it must be interesting to evolve this character -- in the tiniest of fractions of a percent.

Campbell: Ash has dialogue, finally! Look at the first three movies. He has, like, nine lines of dialogue.

Given that he's still immature, but now kind of mature, is it fun to figure out the balance?

Campbell: Now he's verbally immature! I don't know -- I like the fact that he can speak now. Full sentences. They're not great sentences, but they're full sentences.

Tapert: You know, one of the strengths of the franchise has always been Ash alone battling something unseen, or an unseen force. So Bruce has spent a great deal of time in the franchise, as a whole in the movie, fighting himself or fighting an unseen enemy.

At least in the series as it goes on, he's got a lot of people he can talk to. Which makes it easier acting, although every time we have him alone, nobody is better at their own fighting the unseen than Bruce. I just always marvel at how Bruce alone is a lot of fun.

So many Easter eggs referencing your home state of Michigan in Season 1. What elements of Michigan lore are you still waiting to introduce into this series?

Campbell: We've got Faygo Redpop going. That was important. We've introduced a new line of beer, Shemps Beer, which is important to me, because Ash would have his own beer that we can use.

Tapert: You know, a lot of '70s music and icons ... The music is retro when it works, and we look there first, going to Michigan bands. So things that we knew ...

Campbell: There's some good stuff. The B sides -- it's the B side of everything too. You've got B movies, here's the B side. It's a perfect match.
Ash vs. Evil Dead
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Ash is baaaack! Bruce Campbell reprises his "Evil Dead" film role as heroic, chainsaw-handed monster fighter Ash Williams, now an aging lothario who has successfully avoi... Read More

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