Interview: Actor Ray Santiago, “Ash Vs. Evil Dead”

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Ash Vs. Evil Dead Poster

 

What once was a nerd’s pipe dream became reality this year when Ash Vs. Evil Dead premiered as an original series on Starz Halloween night. A runaway hit, the show has become the hottest ticket on the network. It follows inept folk anti-hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell,) as he is dragged back into the eternal fight against pure darkness. We hung out with Ray Santiago, who plays Campbell’s right hand man Pablo on the show, and got the inside scoop on what makes the show’s motor run.

FGN: Hello Ray, and thank you sitting down with us. We have seen Pablo show some pretty epic bravery so far. Is that a trend that will continue, or is he going to hit a breaking point?

Ray Santiago: The show pushes things to the limit in every episode something crazy is happening, and the payoff has got to be that we get to see Pablo go through all these experiences. I have a hashtag, it’s #pablohasseensomeshit. I mean he’s covered in blood the whole series, he keeps getting thrown in this blender of bloody situations.

As the series progresses, we are going to get to see him go through these more and more, and what I loved about Pablo is that he sort of lives in me, too. When I go into the room to talk to the writers I’m always saying, “Yeah, but you know he needs to start fighting back, he can’t be a punk all the time,” and they start laughing and say, “You don’t realize, we’re gonna do exactly that you just said.” Pablo thinks he’s cool guy, he wants to be the badass, but he’s just not. He’s super sweet, and he’s always gonna be wide-eyed. At times we will definitely see him settle into his superhero shoes a little but more, be a little more sassy and maybe not as scared, but he’s always going to be the heart and conscience of the show. He’ll always remain vulnerable and open, and I think that what’s great about this character.

FGN: Do you think Pablo will take up the chainsaw mantle? Or will he follow in his steps of his uncle, the Brujo?

RS: I’m not allowed to really say, but I’m rooting for Pablo to be the next Brujo. I’ve also been saying to the writers that yeah, he’s a sidekick, but what if he’s also a psychic. A psychic sidekick. Give him some powers, some Brujo powers! If you pay attention to how we’ve crafted the series thus far, the season is basically catering to Ash but also becoming more and more like Ash. The Deadites have forced them all down the same path and we’ve lost relatives, we’re angry, having to run from this evil force, but ultimately the show is about a group of people running to who they’re meant to be. And as they face the demons along the way they become the ultimate monster squad. But at the end of the season, Pablo has to go through something no man should go through.

FGN: Well, we can’t say we look forward to it, but this show really is addictive. Is it fate for Pablo to have crossed Ash’s path, or is it just a case of “wrong place, wrong time?”

RS: I definitely think it’s fate. And I think it was fate that I, Ray, got this role. I was really campaigning during the audition process for a part on another show, because I didn’t think I was going to get Ash Vs. Evil Dead. And I think it’s so funny that after a decade of auditioning for shows, jumping from show to show in Los Angeles, that I have found my permanent home for the next couple years here. And it’s a portrayal of a positive character. Pablo is not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Growing up his uncle would tell him stories of these great heroes that fought evil in the past and they called them Jefes. And Pablo needs something to believe in at this point in his life, and he brings a bit of humility to Ash’s life and Ash gives Pablo a sense of self-worth and value in this world. Someone to idolize that ultimately leads Pablo to be the person he wants to be.

 

Ash vs. Evil Dead Key Art and Marketing Shoot 2015

 

FGN: What is Pablo’s weapon of choice?

RS: I would have to say a baseball bat. There was one thrown in to the mix in the beginning of the process of the show. I had to go to through “Baseball Bat Training,” and we ended up not even using it. It’s ok, it lives in my apartment in New Zealand when I shoot, and then I brought it back with me to my house in LA. And it’s signed by Sam [Raimi] so it’s super, super cool to have that.

Pablo is very good at mentally outsmarting the Deadites. I really want to see him have some sort of mental power, something that is a physical weapon. At the end of episode 5 (The Host,) as he’s walking away all these things in the field start to set on fire and when I watched it I thought it would be so cool to have some sort of mental power in his development. We’ll see what happens.

I’m constantly going to the writers telling them to put me in bloodier situations, please, because I really like it and I think the fans do, too. In episode 7 (Fire In The Hole) He gets put in this situation similar to Lucy’s chocolate conveyor belt scene, accept it’s with blood and guts. The writers, (Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi,) are huge Three Stooges fans. You can see the influence of the films, and when I was in an kid in acting class people would say that I’m really big, that I’m built for comedy, and I’m telling them I don’t see it, I don’t see it. But then one day I looked in the mirror and went, “Oh, I have three mustaches on my face, and I look like I could be a Marx Brother!” So why not Three Stooges? I’m embracing that now.

FGN: Were you a fan of Evil Dead and the horror genre prior to this?

RS: Oh yeah, I’ve been a huge of horror movies since I was a kid, I was always pretending I was the person running from the monster and want to save people from the monster. Now, I’m one step closer to being the hero I always wanted to be. I love movies like Nightmare On Elm Street, because the have this combination of comedy and horror at the same time. We wanted to make something that kept people laughing and have them scared at the same time. So it’s got a little nostalgia that the original Evil Dead franchise brings, but something new and modern. I’m also a fan of Halloween, which is a completely different tone, it’s much more eerie, but yeah, I would have to say A Nightmare on Elm Street was the horror movie I loved the most as a kid.

I was a fan of the [Evil Dead] franchise. Evil Dead II is my favorite, Evil Dead comes next, and then Army of Darkness. I think because I am more of a true horror fan Army of Darkness is more the lunacy and crazy and culty, but we do teeter on all of them throughout this season and next season for sure. We clear up some issues we had with Army of Darkness. We didn’t touch on it much this season, but definitely next season we will have that be the focus.

FGN: It was such a pleasure talking to you, and thank you for chatting with us. Any parting thoughts?

RS: Thank you, it’s my last interview of the day so I really love that you’re asking cool questions. I just want to say that working with Bruce [Campbell] has been amazing. He’s a horror icon and to be so lucky as to work with him and having the opportunity to learn so much from the leader himself, it’s just…Groovy.

Be sure to check out Ash Vs. Evil Dead every Saturday on Starz and Starz Play.  Follow the show at their Official WebsiteFacebook, Twitter with the hashtag #AshvsEvilDead and remember to write your own #PabloHasSeenSomeShit to Ray @RealRaySantiago.  Fight on, jefes!

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