You knew Ash Williams had a father and a sister. You also knew that, in theory, he had to have had a mother at some point too, right? You even knew he had plenty of other people’s moms along the way as well, if you catch our drift. And then somebody else’s. Then, somebody else’s. And then…well, you get the picture.
But did you know that one of these moms that Ashy Slashy had loved for half a minute and left to go grab some Carl’s Jr. immediately afterwards actually bore his child? As in, the fruit of his loins were successfully weaved upon her love loom? As in, he put one in her George Forman grill and she squeezed out all the sweet and salty love juice to sear up a tender piece of meat? As in…yeah, we could go on. But we’d rather cut to the chase right now because that last innuendo gave us a serious case of the munchies – and we love barbecue.
What we’re getting at here is, Ash has an illegitimate child he just recently found out exists. Her name is Brandy Barr, and she’s played by the up-and-coming – not to mention incredibly talented – Australian actor Arielle Carver-O’Neill (Ari for short). We caught up with Ari to chat about her recent big break starring in Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 and how she got used to wading through the buckets of wacky blood and entrails that her pretend daddy has spent most of his natural born life playing in.
What was it like coming onto a show with such a strong following and having to define such a pivotal character yourself?
Arielle Carver-O’Neill: It was exciting…and nerve-wracking, of course. Bruce is an icon, and so is Lucy Lawless, and Dana and Ray did such a brilliant job with their characters, so of course coming into a tight-knit and well-established family is a little nerve-wracking at first, but everyone was so welcoming and supportive of me the entire shoot, and right from the beginning, so I’m incredibly grateful for them, and also to the fans for welcoming Ash’s daughter into the story because it’s a pretty big deal.
It most definitely is. What was the casting process like for you?
Arielle: Surprisingly fast. I did an audition from Australia and sent it to the US and a couple weeks later I got flown to New Zealand to meet Rob Tapert, Rick Jacobson, and Moira Grant. And when I met them, Moira gave me a tour of the set and introduced me to a lot of the art department and production team which was amazing.
Then I had my final audition and the next morning I got the phone call saying that I got the part! So it all happened really, really fast, and it was amazing. I was just so excited to be considered for a part like this, let alone to actually get it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background in acting?
Arielle: Sure! I’m still very early in my career. I have quite a few guest roles on some very prominent Australian TV shows and a supporting role in an Australian “tween” show, I’d guess you call it, I think maybe four years ago? Wow. I’ve had enough [experience] to get to know my way around the set, and it was a really nice lead up to something as big and as intense as Ash vs. Evil Dead. I was on [set] every day.
So that experience, I think I had a great introduction to set life before that came along. I think that’s really important that I got a taste and I didn’t just go in completely unprepared.
Also, I’m almost pretty much always training in acting, and don’t think I ever want to stop doing any classes of any kind. I always want to be doing something new. I’m very, very excited for this opportunity. I hope it leads to more.
Do you have a lot of action scenes we get to look forward to?
Arielle: [Brandy] goes on a bit of a journey to get to the place where she can hold her own in a fight. She’s not necessarily a natural born fighter of demons, but she does have a lot of action lucky streaks when it comes to defending herself against them, cause a lot of her kill. So she has a little bit of that lucky streak that he has but eventually she does get physically stronger and a little bit quicker on the uptake and she does develop some pretty cool fighting skills which were a lot of fun to play with.
How was having one of your first big acting breaks working along industry veterans like Bruce and Lucy?
Arielle: Oh it was amazing. They’re inspiring. Watching them work…they’re both so incredibly talented but also they’re masters. They’ve been doing it for a while, and they know what they’re doing. And so being able to be around that and watch that, it’s given me a lot to aspire to, to learn as much from them as I possibly can.
Bruce himself is the king – he’s the king – and Lucy Lawless is a goddess who I grew up watching on Xena, so working with her was a little starstruck at first, but Lucy is one of the most personable and joyful and kind people that I think I’ve ever met. So that didn’t last very long. I was comfortable with her very quickly. She’s a beautiful person.
Were you into horror films or familiar with Evil Dead before working on the show?
Arielle: I am very new to the horror genre. I confess I was a huge chicken when it came to watching horror films. I believed that I couldn’t handle them. But once I got an audition for Ash Vs. Evil Dead and I watched the first episode and was like, I gotta do some research to know what I’m going to be auditioning for at the time. And I started watching it thinking it’s going to be so hard because it’s horror, and I ended up watching the whole thing in 24 hours. I loved it. I couldn’t stop watching it. Basically, I only turned it off to go to the bathroom or to go get food.
I think that’s the great thing about the show is that it’s acceptable to people that normally think horror is not for them. It’s so ridiculous and funny and it has so much heart but it is scary and it’s got gore and horror in it. I think that it’s the perfect introduction into the horror genre. It’s what got me loving horror.
So now, I’m a new fan of horror. I’ve watched a lot of horror films and TV shows now that I never thought I could, thanks to this show. I’ve even seen the original [Evil Dead] movies and I’ve made it through them. I was a little terrified watching those, but I was definitely entertained more than I thought I could be.
Were there any challenges adjusting to the day-to-day life on set?
Arielle: I think for me it was just the amount of time that I was working. I mean, the schedule was pretty grueling and it was intense. It was kind of exhausting, but that’s probably the hardest thing. Everything else was pretty new and exciting for me so I had adrenaline going every single day.
But that’s the only thing I can think of, I mean unfortunately I didn’t get to see any of New Zealand while I was there so I’m going to have to go back.
Last question – if you could describe this season in one word, what would it be?
Arielle: I would say epic, but that doesn’t do it justice.