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Jill Marie Jones tackles role in ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’

Mekeisha Madden Toby
Special to The Detroit News

Jill Marie Jones is not on the promotional poster for “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” but she is an integral part of the premium cable drama.

In case you haven’t tuned in yet, Jones co-stars as Detective Amanda Fisher, a no-nonsense Michigan State gumshoe and trooper determined to make sense of the barrage of vicious demons she’s fighting and the man (star and Birmingham-native Bruce Campbell) behind the supernatural uprising. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” airs Saturdays on Starz.

Jones, 40, who is best known for her six-year stint as Toni on the sisterhood sitcom “Girlfriends,” says she feels fortunate to tackle a role extremely different from the ones fans are used to seeing her play.

“She knows her way around a gun and she doesn’t like the word ‘no,’ ” Jones says of her character during a recent phone interview. “Her job is her whole life. She’s one of the good guys. One of the reasons I wanted to take the role was because of the female characters. All three of the main female characters kick butt. They’re not waiting on a man to save them.”

Jones also said it’s been a treat to work with executive producer Sam Raimi, a native of Royal Oak. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is set in Michigan but was shot on location in New Zealand for four months. In addition to Jones and Campbell, the show stars Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo.

“He’s a genius,” Jones says of Raimi. “To work with the amazing Bruce Campbell has been a dream. And to shoot in New Zealand — the backdrop for a postcard it’s so gorgeous — is incredible. I get paid to do this?”

Fisher is a more physical role for Jones, but she wasn’t afraid to rise to the occasion, she says. It helps that boxing is her preferred form of cardio, but she also underwent mixed martial arts conditioning and handgun training for the part.

“I like to tell my fellow artists, ‘Just because someone has not seen you do something doesn’t mean you’re not capable,’ ” Jones says. “ ‘Girlfriends’ for me was a shock because I had never studied comedic acting before. I didn’t know that I was funny. That was sort of a shock for me and I realized I could do that, too. I always studied dramatic acting. So it’s great to let people see that other muscle. That’s awesome for me.”

“I had never shot a gun,” Jones adds. “People think because I’m from Texas, I have 10 guns in my purse, but I don’t. I’m just shooting guns and fighting folks.”

As for the show itself, Jones compared it to a rollercoaster and says she hopes fans are enjoying the ride.

“If you have to use the bathroom, I would say use it before the show starts,” Jones says, only half joking. “ ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ does not stop. There are so many things around the corner and turns and twists. It’s exciting and we do all that in a 30-minute format, which is incredible. Diehard fans have been waiting for so long, and we wanted to do them proud.”

Speaking of diehard fans, Jones says she knows former “Girlfriend” viewers have been hoping and begging for a movie version but sadly, she has no news to report.

“Everybody’s on board if it happens,” Jones says. “We had a meeting with Mara Brock Akil. She invited us over for brunch at her home — all of us, including Reggie (Reginald C. Hayes who played William) — and everyone is down to do it. But I think there’s a legal aspect because of the rights and who owns it.”

If a movie doesn’t happen, Jones has an idea that could prove evergreen.

“I would love to see William, Toni, Joan, Maya and Lynn in their 60s and have like a black ‘Golden Girls,’ ” Jones says. “That would be outstanding.”

Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles based TV critic and entertainment writer.

‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’

9 p.m. Saturdays

Starz