Dissecting 'Evil Dead': How Lou Taylor Helped Revive Iconic Horror Franchise

By Staff Reporter , Updated Jul 14, 2021 09:18 AM EDT
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Dissecting 'Evil Dead': How Lou Taylor Helped Revive Iconic Horror Franchise
(Photo: Pixabay)

There are very few things in life more intimidating than auditioning for a role in the Evil Dead remake while Bruce Campbell watches from behind a casting table. The original Evil Dead has already gone down in filmmaking history as one of the definitive horror-comedies, so hearing that the film was coming back in a remake certainly sent a shiver down the spines of fans everywhere. After all, remakes hardly ever do justice to the original project, and with something as revered as Evil Dead, well, who knew what to expect?

Thankfully, the addition of Thumbsucker star Lou Taylor would bring to the project what Bruce Campbell had offered to the original, a sense of cutting charm that fit both the period of the film as well as the horrific-comedic genre it inhabited. Before we dive too deeply into Evil Dead and the work that went into creating its remake, let's get to know one of the film's biggest stars.

Meet Lou Taylor

A cursory glance at the resume of Lou Taylor would tell you only a little of what you need to know regarding the actor. Born and raised in New Jersey to a family of entertainers, Lou was offered the chance to ingratiate himself within the acting world at a young age. Instead of diving right in, however, Lou would spend his summers enjoying life as an Altar Boy at the family church, growing to love the outfits and environment of the church.

While Lou found himself at church from a young age, he would quickly pivot his career's focus toward acting. A chance to audition for a role in a stage production of Oliver would send Lou to the auditorium. After booking a role, his career would hit the turbo button. Barely a few short years later, Lou was earning leading roles on Broadway in productions like The Sound of Music. Through this work, the future Evil Dead star would meet his first agent and manager while segueing into acting on the silver screen.

More than just an actor, Lou has brought a workmanlike approach to his career from a young age. Taylor describes his early years on Broadway while balancing school as an overwhelming schedule. Taylor says that he had Monday off to himself, "But that was the only day off that I had." All of his other time was spent on stage, in front of a camera, at school, or rehearsing his lines.

Broadway and SXSW to Hollywood

A short foray onto Broadway led Lou to acquire the manager that would book his breakthrough role in Personal Velocity as Kevin. The film would go on to win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, which was itself a sneak peek into Taylor's future. The success of Personal Velocity would lead Taylor to an audition with Mike Mills for the lead role in Thumbsucker, a film centering on a young adult who is stuck in a thumb-sucking habit. Also featuring Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton, Lou would become the breakout star of the project, earning the Best Actor award at both Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival.

After establishing himself in the industry and landing an agent, Lou would enjoy a busy career that catapulted him toward stardom through projects like The Informers, Southland Tales, The Chumscrubber, A.X.L, and Evil Dead.

Star Turning Performance in Evil Dead

There are many different roads that performers will take before they hit their breakthrough project. For Taylor, his breakthrough roles came at the same time as his introduction to the industry, yet it wouldn't be for another decade or so that his mainstream popularization would be complete.

A nominally introverted actor with a quietly intense screen presence, Taylor was an unnatural yet perfect fit for the role of Eric in 2013's Evil Dead. The film is a marked departure from Taylor's more spirited independent fare, placing a focus on the blood, guts, and viscera that has long dominated the horror genre.  To gain the role, Taylor would have to go through, well, quite a bit.

Taylor remarks, "I mean, Bruce Campbell was at the audition."

Lou would describe his original audition as equally fascinating, pointing to Campbell as a source of inspiration. Taylor described Campbell as saying, "Are you ready to get completely ****** up? For all this blood to be in your face every single day?" 

Taylor's response was simple, "Let's try it. Who wouldn't?"

Leaping into the film with a workmanlike approach to the genre, Taylor would immediately ground himself as one of the central figures in the film. While each character takes their turn leading the story along, Taylor's Eric is particularly grounded and easy to follow. For his part, Taylor doesn't even mind how the blood and horror crop up throughout the film. Taylor says, "It actually kind of hones you in on your limbs being a part of you, your body being this thing that can be maimed or disfigured for life."

Guided by Bruce Campbell's advice to "bring something new", Taylor would work closely with director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe (2016). Taylor said of Fede, "He knew his entire world and that was just so good to be working with a director who's also the writer."

Evil Dead was released on April 5, 2013, in the United States of America by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film would go on to gross more than $97 million globally against its production budget of just $17 million, becoming a modest success with positive reviews along the way. For his efforts, Lou Taylor would earn Best Supporting Actor honors from the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards as well as the Fright Meter Awards.

What's Next For Lou Taylor?

In the years since his successful blockbuster run with Evil Dead, Lou Taylor has continued to expand his filmmaking and television offerings. A steady performer in Hollywood, Taylor has most recently appeared as an episodic regular in projects such as American  Horror Story (2019), Shameless (2021), and Physical (2021).

Taylor advises potential actors following in his footsteps to avoid coming to Los Angeles to "make it". Instead, Taylor advocates that entertainers cement their skills and develop their talents through external markets before arriving in Los Angeles as more fully-formed and prepared artists.

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