Dana DeLorenzo smiling

Four years after the cancellation of the bloody horror-comedy series "Ash vs Evil Dead," the show’s main players — including Dana DeLorenzo — are all back to kick some more Deadite ass. But this time, the fates of DeLorenzo’s Kelly Maxwell and Bruce Campbell‘s Ash Williams are now in the hands of gamers who play as the beloved characters in "Evil Dead: The Game." New in stores and online by Boss Team Games and Saber Interactive, "Evil Dead: The Game" presents the ultimate "Evil Dead" experience. In addition to the likes of Ash, Kelly, and Ray Santiago’s Pablo Simon Bolivar from "Ash vs Evil Dead," the video game includes many characters and environments from director Sam Raimi‘s "Evil Dead" trilogy of movies, which spawned the TV series.

DeLorenzo’s early credits in Hollywood include guest stints in "2 Broke Girls" and "Californication," as well as a recurring sketch player on CBS’ "The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson." Long before anything, though, DeLorenzo was on set of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster superhero classic "The Dark Knight." She played an extra in the arrest scene of Joker thug Thomas Schiff (David Dastmalchian), only to learn with the release of the film that she didn’t make the final cut.

Fate finally favored DeLorenzo when she auditioned for Raimi, who directed the pilot episode of "Ash vs Evil Dead" in 2015. Produced by Raimi, Campbell, and their production partner Rob Tapert, "Ash vs Evil Dead" quickly made DeLorenzo a fan favorite as Kelly Maxwell. A no-nonsense F-bomb slinger who joined Pablo as Ash’s sidekick, Kelly assisted in the quest to vanquish evil after Ash accidentally unleashed evil from the Necronomicon. The series also gave DeLorenzo the opportunity to work with "Evil Dead" movie veteran Ted Raimi, "Xena: Warrior Princess" star Lucy Lawless, and legendary actor Lee Majors, who played Ash’s boorish dad.

In an exclusive interview, DeLorenzo sat down with Looper to talk about her return to the franchise with "Evil Dead: The Game." She also discusses her experiences as a video gamer and shares memories about "Ash vs Evil Dead," revealing the most unusual thing she misses about the production.

The thought of an Evil Dead video game never entered DeLorenzo’s mind

Cropped cover of Evil Dead: The Game

"Ash vs Evil Dead" alone was a brilliant opportunity, but at some point during the series, did you or anybody wonder aloud, "This would be cool as a video game, too"?

It might have been mentioned, but I don’t think anyone who has seen our show [and] sees what a high-octane, fast-paced show it was to watch [realizes] it was actually that fast and high-octane and insane to film. I can only speak for myself, but I was hoping every episode I wasn’t going to get killed off. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, just like Kelly, which was great in a sense. Every episode, I was focused on the idea of, "Okay, hit your marks, show up on time, and maybe if you can, make Bruce laugh for bonus points — but don’t die." That’s what I was hoping.

A video game was the last thing on your mind, then.

It wasn’t that it was the last thing; it didn’t even enter in my mind. I got brought into a franchise — and one that I was a fan of with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell — and got to act with other people like Lucy Lawless, Michelle Heard, Lee Majors; I was pinching myself half the time or getting covered in blood. I was so overwhelmed in the best way and so in disbelief that I was even allowed to be in everybody’s company that I didn’t think about "What’s next?" I was very present to enjoy it because I never knew if [the next episode] was going to be the last.

When they did start talking about the video game, my head exploded. I’m still picking up the pieces because I was so incredibly excited. I couldn’t believe that a show about a guy with a chainsaw arm not only brings people together — I found out after the pandemic that it brought a lot of people together — but a show about a guy with a chainsaw arm also is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s crossed so many things off my bucket list; it’s a gift. It’s also given me these moments that got me through the pandemic with these fans that have embraced sidekicks, so I’m grateful Gracie over here.

DeLorenzo acted like a Deadite as a kid when she got Super Mario Bros. 3

Dana DeLorenzo and Bruce Campbell posing

Did you play video games at all prior to this?

To be honest, yes, that’s why my head exploded with joy that they were even talking about a video game because I grew up in the ’90s. I had an old-school Nintendo, NES, when it came out, with the all-thumbs controller. Left, right, up, down, select, start, A-B-B-A. That’s actually a code for "Contra" to be able to … there was a game called "Contra." Up, down, left, right, select … It was a code that gave you something special. But I played all the time. I had "Duck Hunt." We had "Donkey Kong."

I think the happiest Christmas Day — or maybe it’s just that we have it on video — I was 9 and I got "Super Mario Bros. 3." I basically, ironically, turned possessed because you see me in this very grainy VHS tape go incessantly, running around screaming, "Mario 3! Mario 3! Mario 3! I got Mario 3!" I was so excited. [laughs] It was the happiest day of my life. I grew up playing Nintendo and then I believe Sega came out … I had a younger brother so we would play together, and then I stopped playing.

The reason DeLorenzo stopped playing video games

Dana DeLorenzo attending New York Comic Con

What made you lose interest in playing?

I’m not trying to ruin any brands here — this was about 20 years ago — but I stopped at whatever the next console was after Sega. When that joystick was introduced, it was very sensitive, because even with Sega you still could only go in four directions. But the new joysticks were so sensitive, and I had muscle memory of the hard Nintendo D-Pad of up, down, left, right.

We’d always spill juice or something on it, like an idiot. They would get stuck, and you’d really have to hit those buttons. I remember it. I remember the force. Then, when it came time to run and you’re using a very sensitive joystick, I’d run into the wall. I got a little disheartened. And I’ll be honest — my brother, who was younger than me, got really good with all his friends, and then suddenly I wasn’t the cool one who was the better one at games, and I gave up. But now, I’m ready to re-enter my video game years and reclaim what is mine.

DeLorenzo explains what the game will mean to fans of Ash vs Evil Dead

Evil Dead: The Game characters posing

I would imagine people are still clamoring for that fourth season of "Ash vs Evil Dead." Would you say that this would be the next best thing to that fourth season that everybody was hoping for?

I wouldn’t, but you just did, and I can get behind that. Here’s what it is: Consider it a bonus hour-long episode, maybe. Why I say that is it’s not necessarily a continuation, like a Season 4 would’ve been, but it has everything from not just "Ash vs Evil Dead" the series, but [also] from the first three movies of the franchise that any fan at any point of the franchise will love.

What "Ash vs Evil Dead" very much kept in mind was the fans. That whole show, everything about it — all the people involved, all the unsung heroes who were in the crew who made the blood — everybody at the forefront of making that was, "Let’s do this for the fans, let’s put this in because the fans will love it, let’s bring back the time travel, let’s bring back Ted Raimi and let’s bring back Cheryl [Ellen Sandweiss] and great things and the canon of it." It was, "Let’s also add to it like, ‘Well, here’s Ash’s dad played by the great Lee Majors.’"

What this video game does is it brings in all of that — the canon and the things that fans love about the franchise — and some of them are very nuanced. You have some of that even in the dialogue of the characters. I’ve been watching some people play on Twitch because I don’t have my copy yet and I don’t have a console. I’m going to go play with my brother this weekend for the rematch of my life.

DeLorenzo says her input was welcome during the making of the game

Kelly Maxwell fighting in Evil Dead: The Game

Did you get to test the game out before it was released?

I have not played it. Up until it came out, I had only seen what everybody else had seen because when you go in and record the lines, I got to have a little bit of input. I don’t know what they’ve used and what they didn’t, but I got to say things like, "Hey, this never came to fruition, but this would be a fun little thing for Kelly that the fans might like if you want to throw this in," or things like, "Hey, she needs a meat [tenderizer]." I definitely put that suggestion in, and they might have done it already when they were doing the game — I’m sure they did their research — but it felt good to have them be open to collaboration, and for a character that I love with all my heart. So no, I hadn’t tested it or seen it.

Going back to those days when I was a video gamer, I hated it when we were doing single-player — as they call it now — when I had to wait my turn and let my little brother play. It was boring watching someone else play, so I never understood Twitch. I never understood why people would want to watch other people play because I thought that was boring. But now, I can honestly say I get it. I get it now because I wanted to see what the game looked like, I wanted to see what lines made it in, what the characters got to do. I like video games, so I was interested. I got a total change of heart and mindset.

Are you all-in with Twitch now?

I was dropping in on some Twitches. Is that what you call them? I’m not that cool. First of all, I was blown away. People played for six to seven hours, and I will tell you, there was one that I watched for those six hours. I was fascinated. I get it now. Twitch and everybody who watches Twitches, I never understood. I never bashed anybody; I’m not that kind of person; I just never got it. I get it now, and it’s because of this video game. Thank you to everybody who has no idea I was watching when I was yelling at you for not picking up the meat hammer!

Will DeLorenzo play the game as Kelly or another character?

Scene from Evil Dead: The Game

When you do play, are you going play as Kelly? Because if you do, that’s a meta moment there. Or are you going to play as Ash, because you can be different characters? You can be different versions of Ash, but are you tempted to start with Kelly?

I think we all know the answer to that — let’s put it this way. Even if you’re not a video game person, let me throw it back at you … If I came to you and said, "We’re doing a video game about journalists, and they all have to go and get their person that they want to interview and track them down for interviews. You can play yourself in this game, or you can play Walter Cronkite and all these other people." You’re like, "Oh yeah, great, my heroes," or whatever. But you still might want to start with who?

With me, because I know me.

It also doesn’t even register that it’s me. Does that make sense? Because it’s not me. It’s Kelly.

Yes, because you’re playing a character.

Right. Also, I hear my voice. I’m like, "Is that what I sound like?" So yes — I may start with Kelly, and dear God, I want to level up to at least three for her so I do some justice to that character, but then I don’t know where I’m going to go next. It really depends on the team because it’s a very team-based game if you’re doing the multiplayer as survivors.

Maybe I’d be out for the team. If there’s already two Ashes, I’ll go be one of the healers or one of the support, because that’s what The Ghost Beaters [the nickname of the trio of Ash, Kelly, and Pablo in the series] are about, supporting the team. I don’t know if I’m ready yet. It might be too soon for me to play evil. But I’ll tell you a little secret — I was informed from quite a few of the Twitch streams I watched that the gamers had never seen the show, and never watched the movies!

DeLorenzo reveals the creature Evil Dead gamers hate most

Eligos appearing in Evil Dead: The Game

That’s an unexpected thing to hear because you’d think this would be a game driven by fans of the "Evil Dead" saga.

In its own way it’s very cool, because I never would’ve thought all these people would be playing the game if who aren’t already fans of the series or franchise. For example, in the game, Pink F [Pink F*** is a drink in "Ash vs Evil Dead"], is the drink that helps upgrade your skills— and people won’t get that cheeky reference if they didn’t watch the show. Not that it’s necessary, but they also maybe wouldn’t get the reference for particular finishing moves for Kelly and her melee and stuff like that. I’m fascinated by that, and how cool it is that it doesn’t matter, they still love the game. Maybe this will turn them onto the show and the movies, which would be great.

A little secret is, I’ve been watching and it’s still too soon to play [as] evil. You know who everybody hates, and they don’t even know that half of it because they didn’t see the TV show? You know who everybody hates when they’re playing a survivor? F***ing Eligos! That blue bastard! [laughs]

For [those who] don’t know what I’m referring to — I feel like I need to give a disclaimer — Eligos is this demon that Ash Williams thought was a great idea to summon because it was going to be a sweet demon. That demon is like electricity with a blue head and blue slime and the biggest underbite you’ve ever seen on any creature with just teeth. There’s no face — it’s just a blue head, but is the most terrifying thing. What sucks about him is that you go to kill him, this demon, and he disappears — and then he shows up right behind you and he knocks you the hell out! Or he does something like he did to my character, Kelly, and possesses them and then beats their head, and spits out a few molars while they’re possessed. What a jerk.

I’m very happy to say [that] I don’t know that I’ll be playing as evil. I will eventually because it’s a cool concept, but it’s too soon for me. What brings me joy is that even people who don’t know "Ash vs Evil Dead" still know Eligos is a little bastard! [laughs]

DeLorenzo explains why Kelly doesn’t say the F-bomb in the video game

Kelly Maxwell posing with gun in Evil Dead: The Game

Did you record the Kelly slang, the F-bombs, the mother-F-bombs for the game? As you know, I’ve written before how you are one of the three top screen swearers of all-time next to Samuel L. Jackson and Jack Nicholson.

Thank you again for bestowing me with that highest honor. I don’t think there is a higher honor — I really don’t. I personally am honored to be in that company for that purpose. No, there were no F-bombs, but you don’t need them because it’s the attitude of Kelly that counts. Like, "Choke on this" is a line. You don’t need to drop the F-bomb. Part of why it worked for Kelly [in the series] is she had this constantly pissed-off, agitated face when she said it or because of her creative way of saying it, but you had to look at her face.

When you’re playing the video game, you’re looking at her back. You don’t need it. It doesn’t add to it. We didn’t need it in the first place [with the show], but it was Bruce Campbell’s idea. In Episode 3 of the first season, when we were doing a table read, Ash said something with an F-bomb. He said, "You know what? I’d really like all of Ash’s lines to be non-sequiturs. We should dedicate one person to do the majority of the F-bombs, and I think that one person is Dana DeLorenzo." And I said, "Well, that’s f***ing great!" [laughs]

Remembering some bloody good times

Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo posing in Ash vs Evil Dead

One thing that I’m sure you don’t miss by voicing Kelly is getting drenched with gallons and gallons of blood. That must be a new thing for you as Kelly in the video game, because this is a very bloody game. It can’t be "Evil Dead" or "Ash vs Evil Dead" without it. In rough estimation, how many gallons of blood were you drenched with throughout the entire series?

One hundred million gallons! … Well, let’s do this. I do know that I got 85 liters because I asked. That was in the first episode of the second season, and there were these giant kegs full of blood and everything was covered in plastic. I asked one of the girls in the art department, "Well, that’s a lot of blood for today," and she said, "That’s not for today. That’s for you." I said, "Oh, well, if you guess, how much is it?" She said, "I know exactly how much because I had to make the blood. 85 liters." Google it. It was like 26 gallons just for that scene … That’s five minutes in every episode, so you do the math. It’s a lot of gallons!

And as for the blood in the game?

The game, what really sold it for me — I was laughing hysterically — was when the characters get blood on them … I’m loving the amount of blood in this game. I also would’ve said in 2018 that I was probably going to be happy not to be covered in blood and guts and viscera for a while. Shockingly, I miss it. I’m uncomfortable without it. In fact, I considered throwing ketchup on my face before this interview because that’s what makes me comfortable now, so go ahead and wrap your mind around that one … My therapist’s going to have a heyday with that.

DeLorenzo is thrilled that she got the call to reprise Kelly

 Dana DeLorenzo playing Kelly Maxwell

You said earlier that you heard rumblings of the game. Did you get an official call from Bruce Campbell or whoever to officially tell you, "Dana, this is happening and we want you back, we want Ray Santiago back — we want to get the band back together"? Was the call from Bruce, or how did that work?

No. That’s very sweet, though. Can we pretend it was from Bruce?

Sure.

It was from my voiceover agent, who said, "Hey, they’re doing a video game. They want all the originals." And I said, "Well, what does that mean? Why wouldn’t they?" She said, "In video games based on movies and shows sometimes they hire someone else to do the voice." I was shocked. I was like, "Well, absolutely count me in. 1000%, no one else gets to do Kelly. I’ll do it for free," which I probably shouldn’t have said.

That was the call. I was excited that it was actually happening, and I was grateful, especially after learning they didn’t have to ask us, or certainly not me. They could have had someone in Poughkeepsie doing it. I’m grateful that I [could], for a character that I love so much, for a franchise that is still present in my life in the best way and has gotten me through so much with the awesome fans that we have in this franchise … I don’t know what I was more excited about. I was geeking out that I was, A, going to be in a video game as a character I created, and B, that I got to slip back into Kelly Maxwell. I got to bring her back for a day.

Getting back into character

Kelly Maxwell (voice of Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo Simon Bolivar (voice of Ray Santiago) from "Evil Dead: The Game"

Did you do any special prep for the game?

Bet your bottom dollar I went in with that purple leather jacket and the T-shirt and the jeans. I even went so far as to put on her jewelry and the rings, the anchor [necklace], and the boots. When I was walking through the parking lot, I was like, "The jacket’s a little much," so I left the jacket in the car. But I’m proud to admit it, and it helped me get into character.

Did you record all your dialogue separately from Bruce, Ray, and everybody else?

Correct. Since it was during the pandemic, I was in a recording booth by myself. There’s the booth for the artist and then the engineers through the double-pane glass on that side. It was the summer of 2021, or it could have been 2020, but what is time anymore? We were just getting out of the throes of the pandemic, so to be safe, you couldn’t have anyone else in the studio. They had to be on the other side of the glass. The writer and the director were on Zoom on a computer with me in the room.

I got to see a little movement, but it wasn’t done yet. You are there with a music stand, by yourself, making noises like [mimics noises]. At first, you feel real stupid, but then really get into it. Then, since you can be possessed in the game — if you’re playing evil, you can possess the survivors — I got to be possessed Kelly. I loved every second of it, man. I love voiceovers in general. It was so much fun.

I didn’t want it to end. They were literally kicking me out [by the time I was done]. I was like, "Don’t we have some more to record?" They’re like, "Dana, no. The union says no, we’re done now. It’s been … We’re done!" I was like, "Just don’t tell anybody! Let me riff. Let me keep on," and they [said], "We all have to go now. We’re turning a year older because you’ve been here and you won’t leave." That means I love something if I don’t want to leave.

DeLorenzo is thrilled to be a part of the Evil Dead family

Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Arielle Carver-O'Neill, and Ray Santiago

I noticed your Sam Raimi letter in the background. Did you see "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" yet? I was delighted. It’s a mixture of "Evil Dead" and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So I hear. No, I haven’t seen it yet. I was going to go with a bunch of my friends to see it, but I was actually in the U.K. when it came out, so it didn’t work out. I am going to see it. I’m very excited because I’ve also heard from everybody that our man, Bruce Campbell, has an incredible cameo, a great whole scene in there.

It has to be great, because with somebody like Bruce, it feels like he’s the head of the family and he cares about his family members. Even though he wasn’t there when you recorded your dialogue for the video game, the fact that your characters are reunited for "Evil Dead: The Game" has to be a great feeling.

It absolutely is. I did get to see him when I was in the U.K. We were both at this convention out there. It was my first time in the U.K., and I don’t know what I was more excited about. I keep saying the word "excited," but it’s true — I don’t know what I was giddier about, getting to go to the U.K. or getting to see Bruce. I realized I hadn’t seen him since probably our last panel in 2018.

I miss them. I miss Bruce. I miss Ray. I miss Lucy. I miss everybody. Arielle Carver-O’Neill, who played [Ash’s daughter] Brandy — we just talked the other day. She’s still in Australia. It is a family. Lee Majors will still email me … I owe him an email. I owe everybody an email. But I love that Lee Majors will send a nice little email during the holidays or whenever saying hi. That’s the kind of people that I get to work with.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.