SXSW Interview: Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore and Jessica Lucas Talk ‘Evil Dead’ and “Interpretive Dance Yoga Zombie Training”

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Evil Dead premiered at SXSW and the response the crowd gave at the end was something I’d never seen before. To say the new horror flick was a crowd-pleaser is an understatement. Everyone loved the film, including me and I’m not even a horror fan.

Directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, it stars Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore and our friend, the always awesome Shiloh Fernandez. The film is darkly funny, gross and scary as hell and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

At SXSW, I talked to Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore with a special appearance by Jessica Lucas (who’s interview you may have just read) the day after the screening and they were all still giddy from the crowds reaction.

In the roundtable interview, we talked about the makeup that was slathered all over their bodies, getting a movement coach on how zombies move and the challenges of reaction shots. 

For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes 

Evil Dead comes out this Friday!

When your agent handed you the script were you immediately interested?

Lou Taylor Pucci: Immediately, I was not at all. No, I didn’t wanna do it at all.

Oh, really?

Lou Taylor Pucci: No, I thought it was a terrible idea. I mean, why would you remake Evil Dead? It’s still got… Rotten Tomatoes, it still has 100%, the old Evil Dead, because it’s a perfect friggin’ movie in some ways. So, yeah, I didn’t think it was a great idea.

But then… and also it was written as, like, 30 years old. Like, the characters were all supposed to be a bit older, 5, 10 years. So I was like, “I’m not right for this at all.” And then when it came down to it to get the callback, Bruce Campbell was gonna be there so I just wanted to go meet Bruce Campbell. And then shit happened.

What kind of influence did the original have on your interpretations of your characters?

Elizabeth Blackmore: I hadn’t seen the original. I didn’t really know Evil Dead, I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until I was cast that… I hate horror films. They scare the crap out of me. And when I got the role my boyfriend made me sit down and watch the original then.

Did you watch all 3?

Elizabeth Blackmore: No, I’ve only seen the first one. I think we were given so much freedom. Like, having Bruce and Sam [Raimi] and Rob [Tapert] there kinda, I feel like, took care of that for us. They gave us the freedom to…

Lou Taylor Pucci: We were safe. We were in such safe hands. You can’t be in better hands than Bruce Campbell being a producer on it, you know?

Was he there the whole time?

Lou Taylor Pucci: No, he wasn’t there.

Elizabeth Blackmore: No, he was filming in Miami or something.

Lou Taylor Pucci: He was working.

Elizabeth Blackmore: Rob was there most of the time.

Lou Taylor Pucci: But also, to answer your question, I was a huge, huge Evil Dead fan and so getting… that’s why I, when I got the script, I was like, “This is retarded. How can we do this? We can’t do this.” But obviously it was the right thing to do and when I found out that they were doing it all practical I was like, “This is it. This is gonna be so cool.” Because I can’t believe they even came up with that idea.

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What about the practical effects?

Jessica Lucas: Well, my stuff was pretty much practical. It was a prosthetic piece on my face that was blacked out in the middle and then they put, like, white dots on it to be able to follow it. So the actual inside of my mouth is CGI, but… obviously. That was not real. But everything else was practical and it was, like, 3 and a half hours of makeup.

Elizabeth Blackmore: Yeah. I had… I think my most was 6 or 7 hours.

Jessica Lucas: I probably had it the easiest out of everyone that had to go through that.

Elizabeth Blackmore: Yeah. I also spent a day in New Zealand, about a month before we started anything, just getting cast, body cast.

Lou Taylor Pucci: Yeah, we all got casts.

Elizabeth Blackmore: We all had our faces cast, you have your chest cast. So we spent a whole day doing that, so I knew it was gonna be big.

What was it like filming on set? I feel like I’d be scared all the time.

Elizabeth Blackmore: It’s not scary at all.

Jessica Lucas: It’s not scary to do. You’re really… you’re so uncomfortable too and you’re just trying to make a really great…

Elizabeth Blackmore: You’re grumpy.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, grumpy and trying to make a great scene and wanting to get it as crazy and out there as possible. So you’re kind of more focused on that. You don’t even have time to think about what you’re actually…

Elizabeth Blackmore: And it’s just not scary. Like, you hurt because you’ve had your arm folded up behind your back for 3 days. You know? And the blood is sticky and I got allergic to my prosthetics and my face was all fat.

Lou Taylor Pucci: Jesus, I forgot about that.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, it was really very hard on your skin. Very, very hard on her skin.

Lou Taylor Pucci: I mean, yeah, it was… it was hours and hours and hours in makeup and all that. No, it wasn’t scary, it was fun. We had to keep up the fun and keep up the energy and that was about it. That’s really the hardest job the whole time was having to do that scene where you look scared again.

Elizabeth Blackmore: And how many ways can you look scared? Like, we got to day 3 and I was like, “I’m out. What else have I got here?”

Lou Taylor Pucci: What other faces do I got?

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Would you guys do a lot of shots? A lot of takes for each reaction?

Lou Taylor Pucci: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Sometimes it was very little. You know? It was minimal. And sometimes we would work on something for 5 days on one scene. There was a lot of stuff to do. And even in those days, we’d still only get a take or three takes.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, we didn’t do a lot of takes ever.

Elizabeth Blackmore: No. Maybe for a practical thing, you know, they have to go a couple of times.

Lou Taylor Pucci: Yeah, we spent more time on wides than close ups.

The film was kind of a big break out for a lot of you. I mean, Fede, obviously, this is his first big film. Was there a feeling of that on set?

Lou Taylor Pucci: I was. I definitely was. I mean, I felt that was the coolest thing, I have to say, was knowing the original Evil Dead so well, coming onto that set that first day was like stepping into the old Evil Dead because it was the same house, it looked the same. I was in that house and that was cool and scary. That was cool.

Jessica Lucas: I don’t think, yeah, you don’t really think… I never thought about it, really.

Lou Taylor Pucci: The biggest thing when we got there was that he wanted rehearsal times and he wanted to get us able to work with these people who were doing sort of interpretive dance yoga zombie training…

Jessica Lucas: That was fun.

Lou Taylor Pucci: …so that we could learn to, like, move with our bodies rather… as if we were being marionetted or something.

Jessica Lucas: I’m really worried that tape’s gonna end up on…

Elizabeth Blackmore: We spent a day writing on the floor.

Jessica Lucas: There’s tape of us doing crazy weird stuff with our faces and our bodies.

So there was actually a teacher?

Lou Taylor Pucci: Yes, a zombie teacher.

Jessica Lucas: In movement. They called her a movement teacher.

Elizabeth Blackmore: She was a choreographer.

Jessica Lucas: So we just learned to move our bodies.

Lou Taylor Pucci: But how cool is that that that’s what they thought of to do for us? Like, we didn’t ask for it, we just got there and they were like, “Ok, zombie classes tomorrow at one.”

Jessica Lucas: Which is great because I think we all felt…

Wish I had that in college.

Lou Taylor Pucci: I know, I know.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah. And we all felt kinda anxious about that. Like, how do you be a zombie? You know? We were trying to figure that out…

Elizabeth Blackmore: …get on the same and figure out.

Lou Taylor Pucci: It was easy though then to, like, really… I don’t know, get to know each other easy because we were, like, on the ground going like… you know? Ok, the poison is going through your body, you’re on the ground again.

Jessica Lucas: That’s right!

Lou Taylor Pucci: Interpretive improv dance zombie stuff.

Obviously this was really physically grueling for you, but emotionally how did you all prepare for the movie?

Lou Taylor Pucci: Like I said, I just needed to have fun. It was just really about, like, keeping the energy fun and not making it too heavy. You know? Because it was already written pretty heavy, it’s a detox. So we all had to just, like, be light with it.

Jessica Lucas: We knew what we were getting into so, you know, so it wasn’t… nothing was that surprising to me.

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Lance Carter is an actor and the Editor of Daily Actor.

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