How Lily Sullivan Channels Bruce Campbell While Playing

Apr 17, 2023

Evil Dead Rise may not include Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams, but the latest installment does feature a brand new kick-ass hero you’re bound to root for with all your heart — Lily Sullivan’s Beth.

The new Lee Cronin-directed film moves the deadite action away from the more traditional franchise setting, a cabin in the woods. Instead, this time, a Necronomicon is unearthed in a Los Angeles apartment building. Beth’s sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) lives there with her three children, Danny (Morgan Davis), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols), and Kassie (Nell Fisher). When the Necronomicon’s evil energy is funneled straight into Ellie and turns her into a bloodthirsty deadite, Beth has no choice but to step up, take charge, and care for her remaining family.
Again, there is no Ash in this movie, but if you’ve seen the trailer for Evil Dead Rise, you’re already well aware that Beth has some Ash energy. During an upcoming episode of Collider Ladies Night Pre-Party, Sullivan took a moment to walk me through Beth’s connection to Ash by highlighting the two main reasons they have similar vibes.

Image via Warner Bros.

First? The weaponry. Here’s what Sullivan said when asked if she had any discussions with Cronin about deliberately giving Beth some Ash qualities:

“With Lee writing the script and taking it on, he really birthed these characters. He really worked from the ground up, and then laced it with Easter eggs and laced it with the iconic moments and one-liners, and then I feel like the chainsaw just does it all, the Boomstick. They’re just incredible weapons and items that represent this franchise.”

Those weapons don’t just represent the franchise visually on screen. As a big fan of the Evil Dead series, holding them on set also inspired Sullivan to tap into what Bruce Campbell did as Ash. Here’s how she put it:

“I was talking to Bruce Campbell about it, I was like, ‘Oh my god. That energy that ricocheted through your body,’ and being a fan of the franchise, I mean, I channeled him because I was living my childhood fantasies and being like, ‘My friends are gonna take this is sick!’”

Image via Warner Bros.

Those moments are indeed very sick, but a big reason why they’re such satisfying payoffs is because Evil Dead Rise puts in the work to earn them.

Most of the movie is non-stop blood and mayhem, but Cronin, Sullivan, and the rest of the cast find great success establishing the family dynamic and history in the first act. Thanks to that character development, the Evil Dead Rise gore is more than just beautifully crafted batshit carnage. It actually means something. It’s a blast to watch, but you never lose sight of what this family is losing in the process.

Here’s what Sullivan said about her personal priorities when introducing Beth to viewers in the first act of the film:

“I think what I really resonated with Beth is this idea of a person full of movement and the sacrifice of this movement, this lifestyle, this guilt and lack of responsibility yet freedom and loneliness, and kind of exploring all of those mixed feelings of wanting something but not being able to have one and the other, you know what I mean? She’s burnt out, disconnected. She’s found herself with that lack of home and Ellie represents that and has found herself in a place of sort of guilt. It was just nice to have all of that in me, in my body work in the sheepishness of Beth, so then she has somewhere to go in regard to stepping up. And then the scrappy hero arrives.”

Image via Warner Bros.

Yes, Beth does have her hero moments, but like Ash, she’s a flawed hero. She has doubts, makes mistakes, and can even be quite selfish. Sullivan continued:

“And even then, she’s kind of a bit useless. There was a few more scenes in the movie that got cut because she was too useless. You’re like, ‘Nah, she’s way too selfish.’ But I love that. I love a flawed female character. And the last film I did as well, Monolith that was at South by Southwest, was also a very kind of similar essence, just where you like them, but you’re kind of like, ‘You’re a bit shit also,’ which is kind of how people are. I mean, all my friends, all my family have taken turns at being shit.”

Eager to see Sullivan’s Beth learn from her mistakes and wield the chainsaw and Boomstick? You can do just that when Evil Dead Rise arrives on April 21st! We’ll have Sullivan’s full 25-minute Collider Ladies Night interview for you as soon as the movie hits theaters.

In the meantime, catch the non-spoiler half of my interview with director Lee Cronin below:

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