Lucy Lawless is no stranger to playing strong women on TV, and her formidable brand of badassery will be aimed at Ash Williams in Starz’s upcoming series “Ash vs Evil Dead.”
The Kiwi actress (“Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Salem”) talked about her mysterious character, Ruby Knowby, during an interview before the show’s panel Friday at the TV critics’ summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Debuting Oct. 31 on the premium cable network, the 10-episode series comes from the original “Evil Dead” filmmakers Sam Raimi, TV producer Rob Tapert (Lawless’s husband of nearly 17 years), and Bruce Campbell (“Burn Notice”), who reprises his role as the Deadite-battling antihero, Ash.
“Ruby is stalking our friend Ash,” said Lawless, 47. “The character does a little bit of a slow burn but by the end, she’s fully in the mix. By the end of the season you know exactly who she is and what she’s about.”
Shortly after filming began on the New Zealand set earlier this year, Tapert described his wife’s character as “our version of The Smoking Man from ‘The X-Files.'”
On Friday, Lawless noted that her character’s last name, Knowby, is important. Fans of the “Evil Dead” films from the ’80s will remember Professor Raymond Knowby as the Necronomicon researcher who recites a passage from the ancient Book of the Dead in a cabin in the woods. Mayhem ensues.
“She blames Ash,” Lawless said. “She’s stalking him to bring him to justice but in her own slightly criminally insane fashion.”
Ruby believes Ash is the spark that ignites a recent outbreak of Deadite chaos.
“He is responsible,” Lawless said. “Wait until you find out how it all transpires. All I can tell you is Ash is still a lothario and gets him in a lot of trouble. It gets the whole world in a lot of trouble.”
The Auckland native likened the tone of the Starz series to the 1987 flick “Evil Dead II,” “which is much more comedic,” she said. “I expect this to play in frat houses on an endless loop for the next 20 years. Bruce is like a one man Three Stooges.”
READ MORE: Bruce Campbell talks going Dutch on ‘Fargo’
”It’s scary and funny but not at the same time,” she added. “It puts your nervous system through the paces.”
Tapert had the idea to revive the “Evil Dead” franchise in the TV format.
“It was so the right time to make this,” said Lawless, adding that she’s “delighted to be included in the gang.”
“Bruce is old enough for it to be funny to find Ash still where we left him: still delusional, mildly misogynistic, mildly racist,” she said. “He’s just kind of an awful hero. He’s an awful Everyman and for some reason we love him. He’s the hero that every loser could be.”