Ray Santiago is a diverse actor with numerous major credits, both in and outside the genre. He’s appeared in such films as Girlfright, Meet the Fockers and In Time and now he’s bringing a little humor and a lot of heart to our screens in Ash vs. Evil Dead as Ash’s loyal buddy Pablo. We caught up with him recently to talk about his work in the new series, which is currently airing on Starz. You can follow Ray on twitter at @RealRaySantiago
Wicked Horror: How did you first get involved with the whole Ash vs. Evil Dead project?
Ray Santiago: Basically, I’ve been acting for over a decade and living in Los Angeles for over a decade, and the project came to me last year around pilot season. And I just basically went through a day audition process and ultimately ended up auditioning for Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. And, you know, the rest is history.
WH: Had you seen any of the Evil Dead movies prior to doing the show?
Santiago: Yeah, I had seen Evil Dead 1 and Evil Dead 2. I was a huge horror fan as a kid. I was really into Evil Dead 1 and 2 and then when I got the show I watched Army of Darkness. And the show really has a sense of nostalgia to the original Evil Dead movies but then also sort of has something new and fresh that I think the audience and generation of today can really enjoy.WH: What first appealed to you about Pablo as a character?
Santiago: I have to say, what I love about Pablo is, I’ve played a lot of different characters and most of the time I’ve made a living off of playing gang bangers and drug dealers. And I strive to sort of be a role model for the Latino community and kids out there, and Pablo is the first Latino sidekick in the horror genre. As a kid, I used to watch horror movies and I wanted to be the person running from the monster but I also wanted to be the guy saving people from the monster. With Pablo, I’m one step closer to being that superhero that I always wanted to be as a kid. I’m so glad that the network strived to have that diversity on the show and that we get to see a Latino character in a positive light. I feel like our show is taking a chance and telling Pablo’s story, and I mean it’s a comedic horror show and it’s not that serious, but I love that we get to do it through that lens.
WH: Absolutely, yeah. And what I’ve loved about Pablo is that he’s not just the sidekick, either. He’s the competent one.
Santiago: Yeah, I think Pablo is really the heart and the conscience of the show. I think ultimately the show is about a group of three people who are sort of running from who they’re supposed to be. Once they sort of come into contact with their inner demons and the demons that they fight along the way, they really become this ultimate monster fighting squad.
Santiago: It’s funny, you know, I auditioned for Bruce. We had a work session together in the audition process and we immediately gelled. And I just remember in the audition, he and I just sat next to each other and I just kind of felt it. Bruce is a great leader. I go to work and I play follow the leader. The parallels between Pablo and Ash, and Bruce and myself are definitely there. I think Pablo and Ash, I think Pablo idolizes Ash because he needs somebody to idolize. And in idolizing Ash he sort of figures out what kind of man he wants to be. It’s sort of similar to Bruce’s and my relationship, sort of watching Bruce and absorbing and I feel like I’m becoming a better actor. I learned when to listen and when to let the facial reactions tell the story. Bruce has been great on and off camera, he’s really been nurturing to all of us. Having been in New Zealand for so long and spending time together on our days off, going out and checking out different restaurants, trying out different types of tequila and just having a good time. We definitely have a great friendship and it’s definitely showing on camera.
Santiago: Where we’re at right now, he really wants to leave his mark on the world. He wants to do something, he wants to be somewhat of a hero and I think he’s still struggling with that. As you can sort of see, he went on this journey where he tried to escape his cultural background and run from his family. But he ultimately found his way back there and I think once he embraces who he is, he’ll be one step closer to being the hero he was always meant to be. You know, I think he’s found a sort of family unit with Kelly and Ash and I think he’s really excited about that. At the end of episode three when Ash says he’s gonna follow through with them, you can see how happy he is. I think he’s definitely growing in that sense where he can feel like he’s not alone anymore. I think you’re gonna see him… I’ve got a hashtag which is #pablohasseensomeshit. And you’re definitely gonna see the guy go through more stuff, just a bloody blender of situations before the season is over. You’ll just have to tune in and see what happens.
WH: Well, I was going to say, is there anything at all you can tease without giving too much away about upcoming episodes?
Santiago: I will say, by the end of the season, Pablo goes through something that no man should have to go through. These guys, they really love The Three Stooges. Sam and Rob and Bruce, they just love The Three Stooges and if you watch our show, there’s an episode coming up that I like to say is kind of my version of the I Love Lucy scene of the chocolates on the conveyor belt. Except that it has to do with blood and Deadites and demons. You’ll have to tune in. You definitely get to see Pablo let out his frustrations toward the end of the season on some Deadites. He’s sweet and he’s the good guy in the story and the heart of the story but I think at a certain point, he won’t take it anymore. You get to see him let some Deadites have it.