I go back over 25 years with the Evil Dead franchise. As a small child, I was mesmerized by the posters and big plastic cassette boxes in the video store. My father let me wander through the horror section and occasionally get some tapes, you know, as long as I “didn’t tell mom.” My walls in college were adorned with those same Evil Dead posters I used to see in the stores, and I own various copies of the trilogy on video, DVD, and Blu-Ray. I sat front and center at NYCC last Fall to see the premiere episode of Starz’s series Ash vs Evil Dead, and I’ve reviewed every episode for this site. So it came with great pride and pleasure that I was given a chance to interview several members of the cast while on vacation with my family in Orlando. One of those members was Ash’s new sidekick, Pablo Simon Bolivar, aka Ray Santiago. Somehow I found a quiet spot outside Diagon Alley in Universal Studios.
Check out the interview below.
GeeksofDoom: Thank you for your time, I am a huge fan of the show. It was my favorite new show last year, and I’m a huge Evil Dead geek in general. My first question is, how familiar were you with the Evil Dead franchise when you got the role of Pablo on Ash vs Evil Dead?
Ray Santiago: I was pretty familiar with it, I was a huge horror fan as a kid. As far as the franchise goes, I had seen up through Evil Dead 2 before, I hadn’t seen Army of Darkness until I got the part. As a kid I was a really big horror fan, so I always wanted to be the guy saving a chick from a monster, or be someone running from the monster, and now on Ash as his loyal sidekick Pablo, I sort of get to do that and I’m one step closer to the superhero I always wanted to be. The franchise has that nostalgia for me, because Bruce as Ash was just this cool guy trying to save the world.
Geeks of Doom: I’m also a huge horror fan, and that leads to my next question. I looked you up on IMDb, and you are younger than the Evil Dead franchise. What does it mean to you to be a part of such a long-lasting horror franchise like Evil Dead, which has been around almost 40 years now?
Ray Santiago: Well it’s an honor, I am so lucky to be a part of this franchise. Having auditioned for Sam Raimi, and Bruce [Campbell], and Rob Tapert, and having Sam sit me in a room and ask me a bunch of questions, it was like he was giving me his blessing to enter the franchise and be the future of the franchise. We do these conventions, and I just got back from one last night, and I see these fans that are like 8-years old and their parents are watching the show with them, and there are 16-year olds that watch the show, and it just goes to show that this is a cult classic of comedic horror and it’s timeless. It’ll be around forever. Somebody has to the good parent, or maybe the bad parent who put it on when they go out for dinner. As far as the future of the franchise with Dana [DeLorenzo] and I, along with Bruce, we want to keep the fans happy, whether it’s having buckets of blood thrown on us, or traveling around the world to meet fans and thank them for accepting us into the franchise, and let them know how honored we are to be a part of it.
Geeks of Doom: Well that leads me to a question about your co-star, Bruce Campbell. I watched the panel from SDCC and he just never stops being “Bruce Campbell.” How different is the real-life Bruce from the one we’ve grown up with for 30-plus years?
Ray Santiago: There is definitely a persona that Bruce puts on, and he’s completely open about it. It’s what we want, what the fans want. But it’s not that different from who he is, he is always on, he is always entertaining. He is always telling a story and having someone laugh. As Ash and as Bruce, he is an impeccable leader, and that’s one characteristic I can say transcends both the character and the actor. He’s an incredible leader and that never turns off, so we just follow the leader. He has a capacity that is very authentic and real, even though he has this image to keep up. But he is a wonderful person to work with. We had dinner after a convention this weekend, and you know he’s my boss, the executive producer, the guy who started this all and yet he has this ability to make you feel like you’re part of something, and that’s why I respect him so much.
Geeks of Doom: That’s great, you know you hear stories about certain actors being hard to work with, and he [Campbell] just seems like the most fun guy to be around.
Ray Santiago: He’s absolutely incredibly professional.
Geeks of Doom: I am interviewing Dana [DeLorenzo] in a few hours, and I’m gonna ask her this exact question. One of my favorite arcs of the first season was Pablo and Kelly, with Pablo being obviously into her, then she seduces him while possessed, and then ends the season by putting him in the friend zone. In season 2, will we see any continuation of the Pablo & Kelly will they/won’t they romance, and are you pushing for that as an actor?
Ray Santiago: Ha ha, I can’t say that I am… but I will say that Pablo wants three things in life in the Evil Dead world: he would like to stay alive, he would like to be a hero and save the world, and he would like to get the girl and do whatever it takes to get there, and I can tell you that in season 2, at least one of those things happens.
Geeks of Doom: What was your favorite moment from season 1, whether a scene you were filming, a particular gallon of blood that was thrown on you, what was that one IT moment?
Ray Santiago: There are two moments that come to mind. For scenes, the scene in the back of the pickup truck when I had to fight the deadite. We really improvised that fight sequence, they basically said there will be blood here, here, and here and continue using that boxing training we gave you when you first got here. As for moment, it would be at the end of the pilot. I don’t think Dana and I fully realized what we were getting ourselves into until the blood squirted on us. We were on this journey together, and at the end of the pilot, Ash has accepted he has to come to the call of duty and act, and I ask “˜How do you feel, Jefe?’ and he says “˜Groovy’ and there was a crane shot that Sam Raimi wanted to perfect, and there was a moment when Dana and I looked at each other and it clicked, and we like “Oh, we are now part of this forever.” So I would say that moment, where we knew we were in it together, and part of something special with this little trifecta that we had. That was the moment where it all just clicked for us.
Geeks of Doom: That is great to hear. Lastly at SDCC, Bruce Campbell said as long as Starz kept renewing the show, he’d do seasons 2, and 3, and 4 and on and on. Are you guys all down for that ride?
Ray Santiago: I am absolutely down for that ride. I love working with great actors who are like family and I love showing up to work, and I would gladly do it as long as the fans want.
Ray Santiago made his film debut in 2000’s Girlfight, and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows since. The Bronx, New York native seemed genuinely touched and excited to be a part of Ash vs Evil Dead and I wish him the best of luck with the show. Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 is available now on Blu-Ray, and Season 2 premieres on Starz on Sunday, October 2, 2016.