When Jane Levy told family and friends she'd star (and have a demon inhabit her) in the “Evil Dead” remake, she didn’t emphasize that she’d spend the shoot freezing in just her underwear, vomiting blood on people.
“You explain it like, ‘I get to be the villain and I get to be possessed and I get to be in New Zealand, which is the most beautiful place in the world,’” said Levy by phone from her car in L.A. “All that sounds good, but the details--it starts to get not so much fun anymore.”
The 23-year-old star of ABC’s sitcom “Suburgatory,” who spent a short time in Chicago during her stint on “Shameless,” is the best thing in the new “Evil Dead,” opening Friday. In the film, adapted from Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult favorite (Raimi produced the remake), Levy plays Mia, whose attempt to kick drug addiction during a Midwestern cabin excursion turns deadly after she and her friends unleash evil spirits.
If you, like the characters in “Evil Dead,” walked into a room full of dead cats and found a book that was elaborately bound, what would your reaction be?
I would definitely open it. If it said, “don’t read it,” there’s a chance I might. I don’t know. I like to think I wouldn’t. I might be scared of reading it, but I would definitely open it. I would definitely take the book from the basement and look what’s inside.
Would you be more likely to read it if it said “read it” or “don’t read it”?
[Laughs.] That’s funny. I don’t know. That’s a really funny question though. [Laughs.]
Thanks to all the fake blood during filming, you had the worst ear infection that a doctor had ever seen. Did you tell him how it got that way?
Yeah, I did. I think he thought it was a little bit entertaining, which is messed up for a doctor to think that but … He didn’t say it was the worst ear infection, he said it was the most inflamed ear canal he had ever seen. Which is sort of, I guess, the same thing. He gave me antibiotics, and sure enough I was back to being healthy, but it took a long time for all the blood to actually come out of my ear. Months after we stopped shooting there was still blood coming out of my ear.
Dripping at random?
No, of course not. [Laughs.] No. When I would clean my ear, there would be red residue.
What did you tell the doctor then?
Well, he had visited me on set, so I was in full make-up. I was as evil Mia when he came and saw me on set to look into my ear. So he knew. He knew everything.
A lot of people who were involved in the original were on board for the remake and there was more money to create the vision. In general, how should people determine if a remake is worth doing?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure, but I trusted that there was a reason for this remake because, like you said, the original people wanted to make it again. When they made the first movie it was never released in theaters, and they wanted a chance now to make this movie to be released on the big screen, which is where everyone should watch a movie. There’s something really magical about the cinema ... And especially this movie when you watch it, I think people should definitely see it in a movie theater because feeling the audience’s energy around you is a lot of fun. When I saw it at SXSW with an audience, they were cheering, they were laughing, they were screaming, they were crying, they were yelling. It is a blast to have that experience with a bunch of people.
Can you think of something that has been remade that you were not glad to hear about, or something you hope is never remade?
No, I don’t really understand why people get upset. You can still have your other movie. You can still enjoy your other movie, and if you really don’t want to you don’t have to see the new one. But it’s not going to erase the fact that the other one ever existed. So no, I’ve never gotten upset by a remake but I’ve seen remakes that were [bleepy]. I’ve also not seen remakes because they looked [bleepy]. I’m not someone that gets outraged by the thought of a classic movie being made again. The only reason it gets annoying is when that’s the only thing being made in Hollywood and it’s frustrating because you think that these people are supposed to be artists, and sometimes it feels really uncreative when they just want to remake stuff for money. But that’s not how this movie came about at all. It wasn’t about ticket sales for Sony. It was about the original creators--they were very much in charge of the whole movie. And they wanted to make it again, so we got the chance.
Why do you think the horror genre tends to get the treatment more often?
I don’t know. Horror fans are die-hard. I feel like they are the truest fans there are out there. And that’s what originally fascinated me about making a horror film, because I’m not one of those people. I don’t flock to the theater every time a horror film comes out. But there are people that just live for it. I don’t know why they get more angry; I guess they’re just more passionate.
Something that came to mind as I was watching the remake is that as someone [SPOILER ALERT!!]] cut their arm off with an electric knife, a lot of people were hooting and hollering. What do you make of that reaction to extreme violence?
I don’t even know. I don’t know. It’s like really over the top, and our movie is very much a fantasy. None of it is actually real, which makes me feel a little better about it. It’s not like a serial killer chopping a little girl up into pieces and we’re all screaming and cheering. That makes it a little bit better. I don’t know! [Laughs.] I don’t want to alienate my fans by saying something mean about it. I don’t have an answer for you. It’s baffling.
It seems like we discovered something that bothers you in horror movies. There are a lot of them that emphasize a serial killer doing terrible things—
No, I’m not saying it bothers me. I’m just saying when you watch that, usually people don’t cheer, right? I mean, if it was a movie that seemed really real or it was based on a true story, I don’t think the audience would cheer. I’m not saying they wouldn’t want to watch the movie, but there’s a difference between the two.
Sometimes I’m confused why they’d want to see it in the first place. Does that ever strike you?
Yeah, but when it comes to that kind of stuff, I think that’s different. I think that’s being curious about human nature or people that aren’t human. And that’s sort of fascinating to think of a person on this planet that doesn’t have the same feelings that you do. Usually you go see art to feel like you’re not alone; I think you look at a painting or you go to a play, art is all about that. But sometimes it’s fascinating because you learn about stuff that you don’t even understand. Which is, like, why someone could kill—[Laughs.] I feel like we’re so far away right now from the original question.
In the long run, how much will this role impact your interest in camping?
Camping? [Laughs.] Oh, I’ve actually never been camping before. That’s really funny, but I think if the opportunity arises any time soon I won’t be scared.
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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