Jane Levy On Her Evil Dead Role: ‘She’s Not A Scream Queen Beauty’

The Suburgatory star on leading the hit horror remake.

Suburgatory star Jane Levy makes a blood-soaked splash in her first major leading film role, with Evil Dead in UK cinemas from 18th April. Read our review here.

The Californian actress, 23, is known for her role as Tessa Altman in the hit ABC comedy series, having popped up in the films Fun Size and Nobody Walks. When Lily Collins dropped out of Fede Alvarez’s Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell approved remake of The Evil Dead, it was to the horror community’s benefit, as replacement Levy gives a terrifically intense performance as recovering drug addict Mia, who gets possessed after the famous Book of the Dead is opened in a cabin in the woods. Her Deadite terrorises her brother (Shiloh Fernandez) and friends Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci).

We meet up with a very jet-lagged Levy in a London hotel, struggling after two days without sleep but looking more like fresh-faced Suburgatory student Tessa than Mia. Read our interview with director Alvarez here.

Did you have any hesitation in joining a genre that often doesn’t handle its female characters very well, or did you trust Fede immediately?
I read the script before I met anybody, and I wasn’t offered the part - I had to audition for it. The character I play in this movie is a badass. She’s not a scream queen beauty with her boobs hanging out of her dress. It’s a really juicy character, so there was no hesitation. I get to play with being a drug addict, and a villain and a demon, and then transform into a frigging action hero. So to get to do all those things in one movie is pretty spectacular. Also, I’d never even come close to being in anything horrific, and I’d always been fascinated by the horror genre. It’s a genre that people love so much, and there has to be a reason for it. I wanted to also learn about that. I get scared really easily.

Would you have taken on the role if there had been exploitation?
If they wanted me to get naked or something, then no [laughs]. I’m not really into into the gory porn stuff. I think it’s kind of disgusting.

Was it frustrating that people moaned about having a female lead in an Evil Dead film?
I don’t really care. Because I don’t have a Twitter, or any kind of social media, I don’t go on the internet and read about that stuff. Everything you do in my job is public, and people will have opinions. I can’t take it personally.

The film starts in a dark place, because of Mia’s problems, and therefore doesn’t have the levity of most ‘cabin in the woods’ horrors. Did you miss not having the more carefree side?
Sometimes it was a little drab. I thought to myself, is anyone going to want to watch this movie? It’s so grim, so serious - shouldn’t there be some spots of humour? But I guess there wasn’t room for it, as they wanted to make the scariest, most relentless horror film, and the horror starts pretty early on in a dark place.

What was the atmosphere like on set? Did you get to bond with your fellow cast mates at all?
We didn’t even get to work together that often. While I was in make-up for six hours, my scene partner would be acting with my body double. We did all go to a beach house together in northern New Zealand just before we started shooting - like going to a cabin in the woods. We had a good time.

You got very involved in the practical effects - did you have to have a lot of trust on set?
Yeah. You have to trust your director in general as an actor, to feel safe to make choices. Then on top of that, it felt like sometimes risking my life. Of course, there are people looking out for me, but it’s what you feel like when you’re being buried alive.

I believe the blood bath at the end made you ill?
All that stuff got stuck in my ear and I got a really terrible ear infection. The glamorous life of an actor! I wasn’t allowed to take any time off ever, I had to power through.

What did you do when the film wrapped to recover?
I ran to the airport and got home as fast as I could! Seriously, I was so ready to get out of there. I had just a couple of weeks before I had to start my television show. Right now is the first time in a while I’ve had some time off.

How long were you in New Zealand?
Four months. It was a long shoot, and I think it was to do with the fact they didn’t use CGI. Doing practical effects takes a really long time. One gag would take a whole day, as you would have to clean up the blood.

What was it like seeing it with an audience?
It was really fun, and it’s the best way to experience horror. People were screaming, cheering, laughing, booing. The most vocal reactions.

Is Bharat Nalluri’s In a Dark Place still happening?
It is still happening, but it’s not clear when it’s going to start. It’s sounds sort of period, but it’s contemporary and more of a thriller than a horror film. I don’t think I would do another really gory movie, but who knows?

After comedy and horror, do you have any other genre ambitions?
I want to be in a Western. I want a gun holster, a horse, two braids and a prairie dress.

Filmbeat also caught up with Levy - watch their interview below.