Interview With Ray Santiago: Pablo From ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’
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It’s Ash vs Evil Dead week for me over at Geeks of Doom. I got a chance to interview the three lead cast members, reviewed the upcoming Blu-Ray release, and met Bruce Campbell at a book signing in New Jersey. One of the highlights was getting to speak to Ray Santiago, aka Ash’s trusted sidekick Pablo Simon Bolivar. The Bronx born actor has been a pivotal part of the Starz series since its premiere in 2015, supporting his “jefe” through plenty of deadite-fueled adventures. Last season on Ash vs Evil Dead, Pablo faced several challenges from his body being possessed by the Book of the Dead, to terrifying visions, and oh yeah, there was the bit about him dying. With Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 already completed and awaiting a release date from Starz, I spoke with Pablo himself about his experiences during season 2 and what to look forward to on the upcoming season.

Ray Santiago: Good morning, how are you?

Geeks of Doom: I am good, how are you this morning?

Ray Santiago: Living the dream man, how are you?

Geeks of Doom: I’m excellent, I got to speak with you last summer while on vacation with my family in Universal Studios

Ray Santiago: Yes, I remember. What I want to know is, where are you today?

Geeks of Doom: It’s funny, I’m in my car with my kids in the parking lot outside Coney Island. I promised my kids some rides, and they promised they’d stay quiet for this interview.

Ray Santiago: It’s all good man, it sounds to me like you’re a pretty dope dad, always taking your kids to amusement parks. They should know they’re pretty lucky.

Geeks of Doom: I appreciate it and they can hear you, so thank you. I’ll get right into it now. I got to interview Bruce Campbell the other day, and he promised some pretty crazy stuff for the upcoming season. Let me get your take on it, what can we expect as fans from Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3?

Ray Santiago: We can definitely expect that we will continue to explore the “will they/won’t they” relationship with Kelly, perhaps there will be some new characters that come into play that sort of rock the boat a little bit, maybe it’s a girl, maybe it’s a guy who comes in and rocks things up. It’ll make you wonder if Pablo and Kelly will or won’t, maybe someone gets a bit jealous and takes things to the next level. Definitely, we will continue to explore Pablo’s relationship with the Necronomicon and his new abilities, we will take that to the next level in a way fans will not expect. We will also come to understand that Pablo sees things differently and maybe things see Pablo differently. That my friend is what I’ll give you as far as Pablo. We come to find out, it’s revealed that Ash has a daughter. We get to see Ash try to be the father he never thought he could be which is pretty hilarious to witness.

Geeks of Doom: Especially after watching Lee Majors play his dad Brock last season.

Ray Santiago: Yeah for sure. We also get to see probably the most epic season finale that is everything you can possibly want from this show. It will leave you laughing, crying, and it’s the most unexpected thing you can ever imagine for the series and the characters and I just can’t wait for you guys to go on that 10-episode journey and get to the end. I think the fans will be really happy with where this season goes and how this season ends.

Geeks of Doom: It’s funny, Bruce said something very similar about episodes 9-10 being so good, they’ll “blow our heads off.” I’m really looking forward to it. I hope Starz announces a start date soon, a lot of fans are getting antsy.

Ray Santiago: Yeah, we’re with you man, I think everyone is getting antsy but it’s good, because at least we know people are still out there clamoring for what we made. It’s in the can, it’s ready, and I promise the fans they will not be disappointed. And we have the most epic season finale we’ve ever seen for this show or the franchise.

Geeks of Doom: Well, that’s awesome. I just got my review copy of the Blu-ray of Season 2, and I’m watching the special features and re-watching a few episodes, and you got your ass beaten pretty badly last year.

Ray Santiago: Are you asking me if I’m going to eventually muster up the courage to kick some ass?

Geeks of Doom: Haha, no you did, you mustered up courage, you were just routinely beat up. What was a normal day like on set for you, with make up and your body becoming the Necronomicon?

Ray Santiago: Well, it’s funny. Last year seems like such a blur. I had some friends from New Zealand come to see me and they had never seen the show, and we watched some of the show and it’s weird getting the new perspective. I couldn’t believe that was only 2 years ago. It feels like so much has happened. I will say that everything you never expect from Pablo, will happen. Expect the unexpected from his character and what the franchise has done with him thus far. Last year I spent, I would say for my body probably about two and a half hours a day, maybe more, but the only reason I can’t remember is because I spent way more time in the chair this season than I did last season. I spent the most time in the makeup chair than any other cast member or character on the series. Pablo has definitely been through the ringer, but he will be different this season, the audience will see him differently this season, and it’s all worth it, because it’s the best job ever. I can’t wait to watch season 3. I was just watching a bit of season 1 last night with my friends and I was like, “Wow that was a really cool episode, it was really cool we did this,” and I think that on the show as a whole, as a character I’ve gotten to live out so much that I never thought I’d be able to live out on any television series, and I’ve checked off a lot of these things on one. Hopefully, the fans will not be disappointed with the evolution of the characters in season 3, particularly Pablo, and I think they’re really going to dig the hours I spent in the chair because it’s going to totally be worth it.

Geeks of Doom: Wow, now I can’t even imagine what you went through this season. It’s funny I just read an article online, “10 Reasons Why Pablo is the Heart and Soul of Ash vs Evil Dead.” You have Dana [DeLorenzo] as Kelly who is the kickass woman, and you have Ash of course, Bruce Campbell there. What does it mean for you that fans view your character as the heart and soul of the show?

Ray Santiago: It means that Sam Raimi did the right thing in casting who he cast. I know other people who were up for the role of Pablo, and I think physically it just would’ve been a different dynamic. It could have been a dynamic where he is assisting Ash in killing these deadites, and saving the world from evil could’ve been not that different. But I think Pablo sees the world differently. I think Pablo has the ability to see past peoples’ flaws, and see the hero in everyone. That’s why I think the world loves him. I grew up always wanting to be a superhero and I think on the show, I’m one step closer to becoming that superhero. We are the eyes and ears of the audience, and we relate to him, and there’s just something about him. Here’s this guy who’s looked at as this naive immigrant who probably can’t save the world yet, but always believes, and is endlessly positive about what Ash’s capabilities are. I’m glad the fans are saying that because when I sat in a room with Sam Raimi, that’s what he said I needed to be as this character. So to hear those words come back from the fans, I know we’re doing something right. We want Pablo to kick some ass, we want Pablo to get the girl, and we want him to buck up. There’s that naiveté that’ll never go away but in season 3, you know it’s junior year, he’s about to graduate, so he’s got to buck up. He’s gonna really deliver this season in ways you never thought he could, and the root of every action for Pablo comes from his heart.

Geeks of Doom: It’s great to hear that the connection with the character goes all the way back to Sam Raimi and his great casting choices. You mentioned earlier about crying, and last season on AvED, Pablo dies. I remember watching Kelly’s reaction to your body hitting the floor and audibly gasping. What was it like reading through the script and realizing, “I die at the end of this episode”?

Ray Santiago: Well you know, number one I think of is that it services the story then you can sort of empathize and understand, which is what we’re trying to achieve. I didn’t realize until I saw the reactions from fans, how much everyone loved Pablo and that they were so affected by it. What do I think when I read it, I think “Am I out of a job?” Then I also think, wait, it’s Evil Dead, anything can happen. But if it’s your time, it’s your time. What’s crazy is that for me, even though I die in that episode, I had sort of died multiple times that season in my visions. So by the time we got to the scene where we’re like “did he actually just die,” it had been foreshadowed the whole season and I had lived and died in my own way, so it didn’t affect me that much. Yes, I was hoping I’d be back, and yeah you just never know what’s going to happen on our show. Some of us have come back, some of us haven’t, so you just never know. For me personally, what most fans don’t know, I am terrified of dying. It’s not because I’m scared of how I’m going to die, I just do not want to die because I love life so much. So when I see Pablo’s body hit the floor, I thought “Oh no, is my life as Pablo going to end.” I don’t want that. On the other hand, dying all these times on the show, has made my fear of dying in real life begin to subside.

Geeks of Doom: Well that’s good. I think my time’s up so I’ll ask you one more question. If Bruce Campbell were to win an Oscar this year, he’d still forever be known to most people as Ash from Evil Dead. When you do genre roles, especially horror roles, they last forever and become iconic. You’re a young guy, 20-30 years from now when fans come up to you and go “PABLO,” how’s it going to make you feel?

Ray Santiago: I think initially my response is, “How lucky am I?” There are so many people who have not gotten the opportunity that I’ve gotten on this show and to be part of the franchise’s history is one of the best things ever. I was a huge horror fan as a kid, and I’m so blessed to be part of Sam Raimi’s legacy to the world in a genre I feel he helped create in the 80s. How lucky am I and how lucky is the world, they got to see a young Latino try to save the world from evil alongside Ashley J. Williams? How lucky am I and I guess I did the job well, because you guys still remember. So thank you.

Geeks of Doom: That’s really cool. Are you guys going to be at NYCC this year?

Ray Santiago: I believe so. That is what I’m hearing. I’m ready for New York Comic-Con.

Geeks of Doom: Well then, I’ll see you there. Thanks so much for your time today.

Ray Santiago: My pleasure, have fun in Coney Island.

With that, my interview with Ray Santiago came to a close. You can truly tell how important this role is for him, and how much the cast and crew enjoy making such a crazy show. Ray comes off as the most down to Earth, laid back guys, a horror fan, who’s enjoying his work on one of the best genre shows on TV today. It felt like I could’ve shot the shit about Ash vs Evil Dead with him all day, and as an interviewer, if you feel that comfortable, you know the star is really cool. You can see Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar on Ash vs Evil Dead season 3, coming soon to Starz. And make sure you pick up your copy of Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 when it comes out on Blu-Ray and DVD on Tuesday, August 22nd, and Season 3 is awaiting a start date on Starz.

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