On Saturday, Ash vs Evil Dead took over New York Comic-Con, where the cast appeared at the Hammerstein Ballroom for a panel. Stars Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Arielle Carver-O’Neill, and Lindsay Farris treated fans to a special sneak peek of the season 3 premiere and more, before signing autographs and taking photos with fans back at the main convention center. I was able to join a press roundtable with the cast members, where they talked the series and their experiences on the upcoming season.
Ray Santiago returned home to the big city for NYCC. A Bronx native, Santiago graduated from Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts aka “The FAME School” in 2002 and has been acting ever since. As Pablo Simon Bolivar on AvED, he follows his “jefe” Ash through thick and thin. Last season was a long and brutal one for Pablo. First he was possessed by the Necronomicon, then he was slashed in half by the demon Baal. Thankfully resurrected for season 3, Ray Santiago sat down to talk about the upcoming season and the torture his character has gone through.
Ray Santiago: Hey guys, I’m glad to sit down. We had the signing, before that the panel, so it’s nice to just sit down and get to talk. The panel though is nice because I’d rather be in a room with thousands of screaming fans than a room where I’m trying for a part and I can’t read the room and it’s just not going well. You don’t have to read a room full of fans.
Geeks of Doom: You talk about reading the room. You and Dana were the new kids on the block for the Evil Dead franchise learning to read the room. What’s it like now for you to have two new cast members to play off of?
Ray Santiago: Well, it’s nice to have some hot young people to hang out with. I love Daddy Warbucks Bruce and Auntie Lucy, but to be fair they party just as much as we do. They are my family, my absolute family. We live in New Zealand for five months a year and they take such good care of us. I see them more than my family. But having the two new people opens up a whole new world for season 3. You know the “will they, won’t they” thing with Pablo and Kelly, now you add this new hot girl in the mix, and she’s Ash’s daughter. If Pablo falls for Ash’s daughter, what’s that do between Kelly and him, what does that do between Pablo and Jefe and does he approve? What happens if Pablo falls for the girl who turns out not to be what she is? There’s all these different things that come into play. And Dalton comes along and shows up, my chick who I’ve done everything possible to get. It’s clear she’s just not into my hair. There are a whole bunch of new variables this season. We still have all the great stunts and the horror, but what we’ve done is take the family sitcom where you add all these dysfunctional people together and ask them to not be dysfunctional. It’s not that easy though when you have evil at your doorstep.
Question: You gave the audience quite the scare last year when you were killed off. How’s that, being dead and now not dead?
Ray Santiago: It was so cool to see how people reacted. I meet a lot of people who think that was the season finale. So when I go to these conventions and they meet me, they’re like, “But they killed you!” And I’m like, “Yo, you still have two episodes to watch!” You never know what will happen on the show. We’ve had a lot of people who I cared about who have died, we lose them as a colleague in the space where we create, like Jill Marie Jones. You learn to go to work every day and really give it your all. I was really touched that the fans cared so much about Pablo. And I didn’t really know… between us and whoever you’re writing for, I wanted to know so I was breaking into offices looking for scripts. They always think it’s my makeup person, but I’m not going down like that. I’ll go through drawers when people aren’t looking. I need to find out, so I always know what’s going to happen. But sometimes they’ll tell you vaguely. I think Rob [Tapert] told me, “You’re going to die… but we’re bringing you back.” I spent a lot of last season hogtied. I had to come back to a softer vibe because my threshold for kinky sh*t was pushed. One episode I’m hogtied, I’m cut in half, it’s crazy with this show. I fear death. Not because of how I’m going to die, but because I don’t want to die. I want to live forever. My high school yearbook quote, and I went to The High School for Performing Arts, the Fame School, my quote was “FAME, I want to live forever.” I was sitting watching a Bruce Lee movie in a Chinese restaurant in New Zealand, hungover and I thought, he’s dead and I’m watching him. One day I’ll be dead and people will be watching me in the form of The Evil Dead. It’s great to be a part of a franchise that’s gone on so long and it feels like that for as long as we have Bruce. But it also feels like this is a franchise that can come back to me and Dana in ten, twenty years. It’s a cool gig to have and I’ve gained so much from it.
Question: Were you a fan of horror and of the Evil Dead franchise before you got the part or was it something you had to grow into?
Ray Santiago: I was a huge horror fan. I loved A Nightmare on Elm Street. We pay some homage to Freddy Krueger this season. The Mask, Freddy, Michael Jackson… just some words I’ll throw out for you. When I was a kid I was a huge Buffy fan and this is such a dorky thing to say but I used to carry wooden stakes in my backpack. And one day I ran into her in Central Park when I saw 16, and I was upset because there weren’t any boy slayers. And here I am all these years later slaying demons as an adult. I always wanted to be a superhero as a kid, and I also wanted to be the one running from the monster. I used to set up booby traps in my house like Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street. My mom used to get mad because I’d put marshmallows on the stairs in the house and she’d step on them. Now I’m one step closer to being the superhero I always wanted to be by being Ash’s sidekick and this season you really to explore Pablo going from the naive young guy that he was and becoming his own hero. He has to fight the battle between the Necronomicon and what was given to him by his family as a Brujo.
Geeks of Doom: I hope you have an easier season this year than last year.
Ray Santiago: Nope, I spent 4.5 hours in makeup for three weeks and they took my fingers away as an actor.
Poor Pablo, but congrats to Ray Santiago. He goes through hell and back literally as a character and as an actor goes through hell for his art. Pablo has quickly become one of the best parts of the Evil Dead universe. He is the full-fledged sidekick Ash never had in the movies. His comedic talents make him the perfect person for this role. Check out Ray Santiago as Pablo in Ash vs Evil Dead, returning to Starz on Sunday night, February 25, 2018.
[Photos by Dr. Zaius for Geeks Of Doom.]
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