Category Archives: TV

Interview: Groovy Bruce Campbell talks ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Season 2

ash-3Back in the old days of the “Evil Dead” movies and “Army of Darkness, writer-director Sam Raimi used to take great pleasure in playfully torturing Bruce Campbell in any way possible, filming several exhaustive slapstick-infused scenes that would do the Three Stooges proud.

Of course, putting Campbell through the physical ringer wasn’t enough, so Raimi would proceed to drench his longtime friend with gallons of fake blood, always striving for the most repugnant result possible.

Fast-forward to 2015, where Campbell decided it was time for his character, Ashley J. “Ash” Williams, to share in the glory gory. For his outrageously entertaining  STARZ series “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” the groovy actor recruited a couple of sidekick deadite hunters, Pablo and Kelly (Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo), and a ambiguous nemesis, Ruby (Lucy Lawless), effectively ending his days of being the only goop-drenched punching bag.

And as Santiago, DeLorenzo and Lawless found out, Season 1 was only the beginning.

“Wait until you see Season 2,” Campbell teased in a recent phone conversation. “Pablo is going to have a really rough time, Kelly is going to be getting buckets of blood on her, and even the great Lucy Lawless is going to get slimed multiple times this season … nobody got off easy this year. I have a torn hamstring to prove it.”

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Fresh off the Blu-ray premiere of Season 1 (Anchor Bay Entertainment), Season 2 of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which premieres Sunday on STARZ, finds Ash’s dream life in Jacksonville, Florida, interrupted by a deadite attack. It seems the Book of the Dead is too much for Ruby to handle, and they need to travel to Ash’s hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan, where Ash, Pablo and Kelly need to help get their enemy out of a hellish jam.

Also in Elk Grove is the newest “Ash vs. Evil Dead” cast member, Lee Majors, who plays Ash’s dad. Like Raimi and Campbell — who were born in the same hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan — the “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Fall Guy” icon is a native of the Wolverine State. Campbell said he takes pride in his Midwestern upbringing and work ethic, and Majors recognizes that.

“Believe it or not I think that’s why Lee Majors likes us,” Campbell enthused. “Lee has a great work ethic, too, that’s why he never leaves the set. He’s one of those guys who says, ‘I’m fine over here, just give me a chair.’ He doesn’t play any games. He was amazed that we (Campbell, Raimi and Rob Tapert) are still partners. It’s coming up on 37 years after we did the first ‘Evil Dead.’ I’ll walk into the office and there’s Rob Tapert, same guy. It makes working a lot easier. These shows are really difficult to do, and it helps to look across the table and see the guy you’ve known for years and years.”

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Needless to say, Campbell is thrilled that Majors is playing Ash’s dad. It only takes a mere glimpse at the veteran actor in “Ash vs. Evil Dead” to see he’s got the same square-jawed looks and “I don’t give a damn” swagger of his chainsaw-wielding, boomstick-carrying son.

“He’s absolutely perfect as Ash’s dad,” Campbell said. “He’s an ass grabber. Bigot. Socially unacceptable. He’s just perfect. He’s the guy we wanted from the start.”

Raimi, unfortunately, will not be directing any episodes for Season 2, Campbell said. Raimi, who went on to direct the Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” trilogy, as well as such other hits as “A Simple Plan,” “Drag Me to Hell” and “Oz the Great and Powerful,” is instead staying behind-the-scenes as one of the show’s creators and executive producers.

Campbell said he was just happy that Raimi was available to help the production kick the show off in style last year.

“We were lucky to get Sam for that. He came down off the mountain top to help us out, and now he has to go back on top of the mountain,” Campbell said. “He’s a big movie director and his schedule doesn’t allow it, but he’s a great voice from above and he’s keeping his eye on the show, and that’s what matters to us. Plus, he gave us the street cred. He directed the pilot and set the bar very high and the tone for the other directors. He was glad to be able to do that.”

STARZNot just for laughs

While “Ash vs. Evil Dead” has its share of high comedy, Campbell said the idea of scaring audience members is not lost on the production. Episode 1 of Season 2 is proof of that, as Ruby’s evil spawn return — and they’re all grown up.

“The one thing that we do serious on ‘Evil Dead’ and the one rule that we enforce is, ‘Evil is scary. Evil is not funny,'” Campbell said. “Evil can be malicious, which is thereby secondary funny, but primarily, evil’s main goal is to mess with your head and kill you slowly if they can.”

MORE: Bruce Campbell talks Ash’s presidential run

While Season 2 has yet to officially get underway, Campbell said he wants to be back in “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” too, and not just for another season.

“I’m going for five. I’ll take five seasons,” Campbell said. “Five will give fans everything they need – pretty much the equivalent of multiple movies. That way, we can get all the character development out of it, and look, never say never — maybe we could turn around and go make another (‘Evil Dead’) movie. Success begets success. I have a bold theory that Season 2 is where this show is going to stick. I’m lobbying STARZ for Season 3 and 4 pickup to give the fans a vote of confidence so they can know that there will be a stream of shows coming. We’ve got your back. We’re going to give you what you demanded.”

NECA

One good sign that there’s a big enough fan base is the demand for merchandise tied into the show. New Jersey-based collectibles company NECA is getting ready to release “Ash vs. Evil Dead” 7-inch action figures — including Hero Ash, Value Stop Ash, and the evil entity Eligos – and Campbell couldn’t be more thrilled. In the past, the company has produced other “Evil Dead” merchandise, and also has a 7-inch “Ultimate Ash” on the way.

“People still like stuff to hold in their hands in this digital age,” Campbell said. “They like something they can shove on my tables at conventions and say, ‘Sign my Ash figure.’ I’ve signed a lot of myself.”

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Interview: Lana Parrilla talks ‘Once Upon a Time’ Season 6 preview for D23

ABCTim Lammers recently talked with “Once Upon a Time” star Lana Parrilla for D23.com about the upcoming sixth season of the hit ABC series. Here’s a preview …

Move over, Regina Mills: The Evil Queen has separated from her Storybrooke, Maine, alter-ego and is returning with a vengeance in the sixth season of ABC’s hit series Once Upon a Time. Needless to say, series star Lana Parrilla, who, with delectable deviousness, has brought her evil highness to life since the fantasy romance drama kicked off in 2011, couldn’t be more delighted.

Energized by her foreboding proclamation, the Dragon’s heart in hand, during the thrilling conclusion of Season 5 (“This is a war, and it’s just begun. The Queen … is back”), Parrilla is currently in production on the series in Vancouver, Canada. She recently took time out of her busy schedule to talk with D23 and give the legions of Once Upon a Time fans an idea of what to expect when Season 6 premieres on September 25.

D23: Congratulations on Season 6. When you first started, was it the goal of the cast and crew to mainly concentrate on the work of the first season in hopes that the show would find an audience, or did you have your sights set on Season 2, 3 and so on?

Lana Parrilla (LP): I have to say, I had a really good feeling at the start that we were going to go six seasons. I don’t know how far we’re going to go beyond this, but I had a good feeling early on about six. I think it was when I was saying goodbyes to family and friends in L.A. (getting ready to return for Season 2). Ginny Goodwin and I had a going-away party before we left to go to the set in Vancouver, and I just remember my goodbyes being longer and more emotional than other goodbyes. I looked at Ginny and said, “I think we’re going to be up here in Vancouver for awhile,” and she said, “Let’s hope so,” because we loved the show and wanted it to be successful. I would say to [creators] Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis all the time, “We’re going to make it to six seasons,” and they were like, “Come on, don’t jinx it!” I said, “I’m not jinxing it. I’m just really confident!”

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D23: Judging by the awesome trailer for Season 6 that debuted at San Diego Comic-Con in July, you can’t help but come away with the feeling that this is going to be a big season for the Evil Queen.

LP: Yes it is. There’s a lot happening with the Evil Queen and Regina—and their face-off—which is fun to do. I can say that the Evil Queen is the real opposition for the heroes this season, and she has her hands in everything right now. She’s really creating turmoil in everyone’s lives, which is fun for me to play.

Read Tim’s complete interview with Lana Parrilla on D23.com.

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Interview: Director Susanne Bier talks ‘The Night Manager’

Susanne Bier (photo: AMC)

By Tim Lammers

Being at the helm of just one episode of a miniseries based on a classic espionage novel by best-selling author John le Carré would probably be enough to whet the appetite of most directors. But for Danish filmmaker Suzanne Bier, the greatest satisfaction would only come from leaving her mark on “The Night Manager” from start to finish.

Granted, such an enormous undertaking meant about two years of her life to adapt the 1993 bestseller, but Bier, 56, said every second was worth it.

“It is a lot of work, but a lot of inspiring, fun, weirdly invigorating work,” Bier said, laughing, in a recent phone conversation from London. “The material is so exciting and the cast is so great. So, yes, it’s physically exhausting, but it made me happy every day.”

And by all indications, Bier’s life is about to get even happier. As she prepares to unveil the series finale in the six-part television event to audiences Tuesday night (AMC, check local listings), the buzz surround the series may very well translate to Primetime Emmy nominations across the board for the Danish director and the BBC-produced miniseries.

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“The Night Manager” follows the suspenseful and unpredictable path of Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), a former British soldier whose seemingly quiet life as a hotel night manager in Egypt becomes suddenly complicated when he’s recruited by MI6 intelligence to infiltrate the operation of elusive arms dealer Richard Onslo Roper (Hugh Laurie).

Originally broadcast on the BBC this past February through March, “The Night Manager” also stars Olivia Colman as the intelligence officer who sends Pine undercover; Elizabeth Debicki as Roper’s conflicted lover and Pine’s potential paramour; and Tom Hollander as Roper’s right-hand man who’s deeply suspicious of Pine’s motivations.

The release of “The Night Manager” oddly comes as talk continues to heat up about Hiddleston being a prime candidate to become the next James Bond in the 007 film series. Having first won over audiences as the mischievous Loki from Marvel comic book movies and most recently, winning critical acclaim as Hank Williams Sr. in the biopic “I Saw the Light,” Hiddleston no doubt has a tremendous presence about him — the sort of presence befitting of James Bond and his undercover character in “The Night Manager.”

“The thing about Tom is that Tom is almost like a real spy. A spy always has good secrets, and you can compare them to great actors, because great actors also have good secrets,” Bier said. “A great actor will control how much he is willing to show you, and Tom is masterful at being secretive, being enigmatic and being incredibly attractive, charismatic and likeable. That’s quite a rare thing for an actor, because maintaining the likability whilst keeping so much hidden is just a real art, and Tom does that.”

On top of that, Bier added, Hiddleston’s a nice guy — and that’s a must if any collaboration she enters into is going to be successful.

“He’s a super nice guy. The thing is, I need to work with people I like,” said Bier, the Oscar-winning director of the 2010 Best Foreign Film “In a Better World.” “Maybe certain direc

tors get energy from antagonism. I don’t. I get energy from collaboration.”

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Bier said she also gets energy from working with Laurie, the six-time Emmy nominee as the cranky yet brilliant Dr. Gregory House in the acclaimed television drama “House.” In “The Night Manager,” Laurie is a quite a bit more than cantankerous — he’s evil in fact — but evil and engaging at the same time.

“We don’t try to hide it,” Bier said. “We know right from the beginning that this man is really, really bad, yet you want to be at his parties, you want to be on holiday at his house and you want to be seated next to him at dinner because he’s so much fun and attractive — yet he is such bad news.”

In addition to being surrounded by such immense talent, Bier got the best of both worlds when it came to filming “The Night Manager” in that the production shot most everything on location. In addition to the U.K., “The Night Manager” took Bier and company to such places as Switzerland, Egypt, Spain and Morocco; and not for the purposes of making the production a working vacation. In fact, there’s a very sound rationale behind the places the series was shot, Bier said.

“You could say in a way that the locations are extra players — they’re characters,” Bier explained. “The story asks if this undercover agent is going to be sucked into Roper’s world. Is he going to compromise his moral integrity? Is he going to let down the mission he’s set out to accomplish? For those ideas to work, the places he goes need to be just as seductive as Roper himself.”

Interview: Amanda Crew talks ‘Silicon Valley’

Amanda Crew in Silicon Valley 2

By Tim Lammers

Since her debut in 2005, acclaimed actress Amanda Crew has benefit of doing both film and television, and better yet has had several opportunities to play across the spectrum of genres. Lucky for Crew, her latest gig — the hit HBO series “Silicon Valley” – continues that winning streak in that at heart it’s a comedy, but has some wicked dramatic edges as well.

Season 3 of the series, which debuted last month, picks up with the momentous firing of Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) as CEO from his own company, a storyline not unfamiliar in the landscape of the real Silicon Valley. Crew is back as Monica Hall, the assistant to the main investor of the company, who still has a soft spot for Richard and his cohorts even though creative control has been wrestled from them.

Crew thinks her fascination with the tech industry and part of the reason “Silicon Valley” has resonated so much with viewers is that, while not all of us are a part of the industry, most of us certainly are an extension of it through the devices and applications they produce whether we realize it or not.

“We’re all consumers – we’re all users of it,” Crew said. “Before I started on the show I didn’t know anything about it, but now I’m so fascinated by it. You hear about these headlines, like ‘Snapchat was offered $3 billion but turned it down,’ and you’re like, ‘Who is this Evan guy and what the f—?’ or read about Steve Jobs getting kicked out of his own company and wondering how could that happen. Getting to explore this world and see all this money thrown around — to see how people can one minute be the hottest thing and they’re like God and the next minute they’re nothing — is fascinating.”

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In an odd sort of way, Crew, 29, said she can also relate to the tech industry because the film and television industry is just as fickle.

“It makes me think of these big franchises and how you can be part of this huge movie that pops out of nowhere, where yesterday you were nobody and today everybody wants a piece of you,” Crew said. “That can mess with your head, because a year later, the heat can fizzle out no one will care about you anymore and you have to deal with those feelings.”

Crew said that real-life narrative actually mirrors Richard’s dilemma in “Silicon Valley.”

“Everyone was throwing money at him and everyone wanted to work with him, but then all of a sudden, no one could touch him because he was being sued,” Crew said. “It’s like, one minute you’re being offered millions of dollars, and now you might not be able to keep your company afloat for another month.”

While Crew ultimately can walk away from the set of “Silicon Valley” at the end of each day and thank the heavens she’s not a part of the cut-throat tech world, part of her heart remains with Monica, because she’s a person you can aspire to be.

“I really the love character of Monica because she’s such a great role model. She’s really an intelligent, well-spoken, educated and successful businesswoman who has a moral compass,” Crew said. “A lot of business people are just sharks. They’re just after the money and they don’t care if people hate them or if they damage someone’s life … What I really like about her is that she’s not this shark who has no heart. She really genuinely cares about these guys. I think that’s why she’s successful, because she really fights for what she believes in.”

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