SXSW Interview: Shiloh Fernandez and Jane Levy on the Challenges of Shooting ‘Evil Dead’ and Acting Opposite a Tennis Ball

Shiloh on 'Evil Dead': "The title alone worried my folks, for sure"

evil-dead-shiloh-fernandez-jane-levyHere’s another of our SXSW Evil Dead interviews, this time with stars Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez.

Evil Dead, directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, is pretty damn good and you’ll definitely have a fun time. A lot of that is because of Jane and our friend here at Daily Actor, Shiloh. If you’re familiar with Jane from ABC’s Suburgatory, she’s a little different here. I don’t think she’ll scare the Holy Hell out of you on that show. And as usual, Shiloh is great. He plays a guy who’s got tons of flaws and is basically forced to be the hero of the movie.

In the interview, we talk about the most challenging part of filming, taking on a cult classic and why, a lot of the time, Shiloh had to act opposite a tennis ball.

Evil Dead comes out this Friday!

So, you’re sitting in the audience and listening to all of the laughter and the screaming. How does that feel?

Jane Levy: I don’t think I could’ve asked for anything better. I think I’ll remember that forever. I mean, when am I ever gonna have that experience again when I watch a film I made and everyone’s reactions are the most extreme you could ever have? Laughing hysterically, screaming, cheering, like, it was f–ing great. It was surreal.

I know a lot of actors don’t like watching themselves on the screen. Was it relaxing to have that kind of audience reaction around you to kind of take you out of focusing on your performance?

Jane Levy: Yeah, I mean, I was really nervous and just hearing the reaction, I started playing along. I was like, “Yeah! Kill em!” And that made me relax a little bit. Totally. It’s really validating.

Were you nervous to watch yourself?

Shiloh Fernandez: I mean, you know, oh yeah. So this is my sort of philosophy on that. There’s some movies I make that I don’t have to watch. You know what I mean? I’m not gonna learn anything and I’m probably gonna feel really bad about myself. That’s most of the movies. There’s some movies that I wanna watch to learn from my mistakes, you know, from all of the mistakes that I make constantly. And then there’s this movie which I wanted to watch for fun because ultimately this movie is Evil Dead. You know what I mean? It’s not my picture, it’s part of the whole thing so you want that whole experience. So, I mean, I was just excited. I really was just excited to see it. I’d heard great things going into it and it was super duper fun, it was crazy. So fun.


What was the most challenging part of this whole film for you?

Shiloh Fernandez: I… the most challenging thing was it was just a long, long shoot, you know? And you try your best to sort of put yourself mentally and that’s exhausting to think that your sister is a demon being raped in hell and seeing this crazy s–. And I think it’s just taxing mentally sort of taxing.

It was 70 days, I didn’t shoot every day, but the last big movie I did was 45 days so this was, like, you know, it was just a really long time to be in that state of mind. That was tough.

How was working with all the blood and guts in the movie?

Jane Levy: Sucked so bad. Yeah. I think it’s gonna be the hardest job I will ever do. I can’t imagine doing anything harder.

Evil Dead 2.

Jane Levy: Evil Dead 2 maybe I’ll have a little bit more clout and I can tell them yes or no sometimes. But… or maybe I can just… I don’t know. I’m trying to figure out a way to get out of it. Maybe I don’t have to be possessed anymore.

Did you all get a lot of information about how hard the practical effects would take?

Jane Levy: I didn’t even know we were gonna do practical effects.

Shiloh Fernandez:  I knew that, but I didn’t… I mean, there’s never been a movie like this, really. Right? So nobody could possibly inform you as to what it’s gonna be like. You know? That was the good and the bad of doing it was showing up and like, “Wait, I have to wait for 2 hours while you reset the thing and wash the blood off the wall?” You know, it was crazy. It was crazy. But ultimately, so cool. So cool.

Were either of you fans of the original?

Jane Levy: I had never heard of it. I watched it before we started shooting.

Did it influence your performance in any way?

Jane Levy: It did a little bit. I mean, in no way were… it’s like the same intention or something. It’s like there’s so many different ways to explain what this is, but it’s not an imitation. But I did like… there were some moments in the film that I liked so much that I did actually fight to keep them there, like the tree rape. I did really want that in there. There was some talk about it being a little different and I didn’t want it to be different. And I really had a fun time in the cellar peeking my head out. In the thing you saw last night, they cut it out of this version, but there’s gonna be an extended version on the DVD where I get to sing the original song from the movie and that was really fun to do. And just like take little things here and there. It’s exciting. It felt like a tribute. You know?


This is a generational kind of film, the original trilogy came out a long time ago.

Jane Levy: A long friggin’ time ago.

When you tell your parents that you’re gonna be in Evil Dead did any of your parents have any kind of reaction?

Shiloh Fernandez: No, the title alone worried my folks, for sure.

Jane Levy: I think it’s like younger… older than us, but younger than our parent’s generation.

Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah. But, man, that title is pretty blatant. You know? Yeah, so. But, no, my parents had never heard of it.

Jane Levy: I found it’s like the generation right before mine and also, like, film students who study film all know this movie and are all very in love with it.

Shiloh, last night at Q&A you said a lot of the times you had to act against a tennis ball?

Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah.

Did you know that going in?

Shiloh Fernandez: No, I didn’t know that going in. That was…

Had you ever acted against a tennis ball?

Shiloh Fernandez: I mean, it was, I didn’t know that. It was really hard, man. That was really tough on me because I wanted to have that sort of interaction and experience the terror that comes with somebody being a demon, but ultimately the makeup is such a huge deal. And to do it ultimately takes a lot of time, so… yeah. In the morning I would show up and she’d be doing her thing and I’d get out and start shooting scenes without these people and that was… it was tough. It was a big challenge and, like, I’ve gotta get better, man. I’ve gotta do a better job next time.

Once you had learned of this huge cult following that this movie has, was there any kind of pressure going into making it?

Jane Levy: I don’t think any of us really thought about it.

Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah, I mean, you know, I think the creators of the franchise were making this movie, it’s not like somebody else was making it. They got Fede and they were making a movie called Evil Dead. And so it’s like, yeah, you’re gonna sign up for the movie. It’s an awesome film that the creators of the first picture.

Shiloh, you mentioned that for a lot of the practical effects there was a lot of down time, you know, in between takes because maybe y’all messed up a scene or maybe you messed up a frame.

Shiloh Fernandez: I messed up.

Did y’all rag on each other?

Shiloh Fernandez: I’ve never been so horrible on a set. No, honestly. I was really not in a great place and it was just… but honestly, psychologically it was sort of for the best because that frustration then turns into, you know, real furrowed brow sort of.

Was there any secrecy involved when you were shooting?

Jane Levy: I don’t think so. I don’t know.

Shiloh Fernandez: We were in New Zealand. It’s a very small country.

Jane Levy: Not very many people.

Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah.

Was the cabin actually in the woods?

Jane Levy: Yeah. It was an hour outside of Auckland.

Shiloh Fernandez: Yeah, it was cool. It was really cool.

Jane Levy: That was one good thing though because they didn’t trust us to drive, they didn’t want to insure us, so they gave us drivers and so in the morning I’d sleep on the way.

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