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Lee Majors, The Six Million Dollar Man returns to TV on the Starz hit series Ash vs Evil Dead.
If you were a child of the ’70s like me, Lee Majors was your hero. As Col. Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man, Majors dazzled us with displays of superhuman feats, thanks to his bionic arm, legs, and eye. He then went on to star as tough guy stuntman–bounty hunter Colt Seavers in The Fall Guy. The 77-year-old’s latest project is the Starz series Ash vs Evil Dead, the serial continuation of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead film series, in which titular star Bruce Campbell is in constant battle with, well, the evil dead. Lee joins the show in Season 2 as Ash’s dad. Expect lots of steely-eyed face-offs between the two square-jawed übermen.
M&F: Tell us about your character in Ash vs Evil Dead.
Lee Majors: My character’s name is Brock Williams, and he’s the father of Ash—Bruce Campbell. And, of course, Bruce and I have similar physical attributes. We kind of look related. But he skipped town on me about 30 years ago, and now he’s come back to try and patch things up.
Sounds like he may need your help.
Yeah, he gets in trouble a lot. I wasn’t really familiar with the show when they asked me to do it, so I sat down to watch some episodes. Next thing you know, I almost watched the whole 10 episodes [of Season 1] at one time. It was so good.
It’s gory, but it’s “fun” gory. It’s kind of its own genre.
I try to explain to people that if it was totally without the humor, it probably wouldn’t work, but with the humor in it—the funny one-line deliveries—it just takes the curse off of it and makes it fun to watch.
It really picks up where the movies left off. It’s got the same spirit, the same style.
Sam Raimi is very good. It’s been fun to work with this cast. They’re unbelievably good, and the crew is all really good as well.
You have a great history with a television show that I grew up watching, The Six Million Dollar Man, and of course, The Fall Guy. As an actor, you’ve always had very physical roles, and I know that you have a football background. Is physicality something you look for in roles?
Having just come out of college football, I was pretty active, and I ended up doing probably 80% of my own stunts over my entire career, which is going on 53 years now. I’m starting to feel the wear and tear over the last couple of years, though. The knees get a little creaky, but I still enjoy working and still do a lot of lower-budget films, which gives me the chance to work with young, enthusiastic people. I like supporting them in their careers.
I ran my behind off in Six Mil. It makes the day go faster.
So, you were the Fall Guy for real. Was that role offered to you because you were that guy in real life?
Well, I knew Glen Larson from Six Mil. He reached out to me and said he wanted to do another series, and I said yeah, so we got together and came up with the idea of a stuntman moonlighting as a bounty hunter. So we wrote the script, and he wrote it more or less because he knew me, and he knew that it really fit me well. That was the character that was closest to the real me and my personality, and I had the most fun doing it—even more fun than Six Mil and the other ones.
Legend has it that you actually broke your back.
It was a situation where there was a congenital problem. There’s a fusion that normally takes place in the lower lumbar, but in me that fusion never occurred, so when I got hit [playing college football at Eastern Kentucky University], it put me out of commission for weeks, during which I was immobile. I lost a year of football. Then I found a doctor who said, “If you don’t get hit in the same spot, you could play again,” and that was all I needed to hear. I did a lot of back rehabilitation stuff, but I didn’t play football again. Instead, I went into acting.
I’m 50. At 77, you’re not doing so bad.
Yeah, they don’t have to film me in slow motion anymore because I can only run in slow motion these days! The biggest thing is stairs. I can go up stairs more easily than going down them. It’s the hardest on your knees when you’re going down stairs. I have no cartilage in one knee and they keep wanting to replace it, but I keep putting it off. I don’t do much action anymore, but I have no intention of quitting the business.
I imagine exercise has always been a part of your life.
Yeah, I did a lot of running, not really heavy weights, but some weights, just to keep everything intact. And since I did all action shows, I didn’t really have to do as much working out as you’d think because it kept me active the whole time.
How was it working with Andre the Giant while filming Six Million Dollar Man? Rumor is he almost flattened you.
We had a fight in the woods, and he was supposed to take a flying leap and land on me. It was a sunny day, and I look up, and all of the sudden the sun is gone—blocked by an enormous shadow—and I know he’s on his way down. But he never touched me. As a professional wrestler, Andre was totally aware, but you still think that, at that weight…he must have weighed 400 pounds and was 7′. But what a gentle man he was. He was great.