Ash Vs Evil Dead season 3 interview: Ray Santiago

We chatted to Ash Vs Evil Dead's Ray Santiago about playing Pablo in season three...

Contains spoilers for Ash Vs Evil Dead season 2 (and part of season 3 as noted in the article).

Poor Pablo, he’s had a rough time since crossing paths with Ash Williams. Female attention seems to ignore him completely, or end up possessed and dismembered, while books can’t get enough of his face, with his Necronomicon mask leaving an indelible mark on his soul.

Thankfully the start of season three sees him catching a temporary break, while fulfilling his dream of opening and fish and chip stand like no other. Of course the peace and quiet won’t last for long, but at least it looks like Pablo is on course to fulfil his destiny to become something truly ‘especial’.

We chatted to Mr. Ray Santiago to discuss the above and more, with his endearing performance turning Pablo into the sympathetic heart of Ash Vs Evil Dead, which as a consequence, makes his suffering even more painful to watch. Yet his unwavering optimism continues, as well as his comedic energy – to date, his response to Kelly’s “You can kiss me anywhere you want!” line in season one still has me in hysterics – so we delved into all things Pablo with the man himself…

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How are you doing?

I’m living the dream!

Congratulations firstly, as the show has gone from strength to strength and Pablo is a core part of that, but going into season three, I think the most important aspect to note is that he actually has his fish and ‘chips’ stall!

[Laughs] Like I said, living the dream, right?

I’d buy into that concept!

I mean he’s come a long way, you know? I think it’s important that we show those details and those small parts with Pablo, because there’s not really many glimmers of hope for our cast and our characters! So we wanted to show them succeeding and having some sort of normalcy in their lives, which is a really beautiful thing. And I do think that a guy from after being roped into this whole madness – that is what Pablo wanted and when you look at Pablo just being a normal guy, as an undocumented immigrant, who comes here and wants that sort of life, but gets roped in to helping Ash and actually becoming more of a hero than he ever bargained for so, than he ever thought he could be.

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So it’s really cool, I think in season three – I had no idea we were doing this – but I think that season three has all of the popcorn pops for Pablo, all of those things kernels are popping, all the seeds we planted really come full circle and we get to see him sort of grow from being this naïve psychic, to really embracing his powers as a brujo and coming to terms with what his family was giving him and that, perhaps, it wasn’t a coincidence that he met Ash and it was all meant to be.

I’m not exactly sure which episode you saw up to, but it’s going be a wonderful thing. As you probably saw, we have something very ‘especial’ for the audience this season! [laughs] ‘Brujo Especial’ will soon become a trademark beer, but it is also his super hero name.

I was going to ask about that, because although I don’t want to give anything away – having seen the first five episodes, there’s a massive turning point for Pablo, but he does ask if ‘Brujo Especial’ is a beer, so you’re going to trademark it?

I think that in season four we should, I mean the franchise should, because it would be pretty awesome to have like a weird, bizarre sort of animated character of Pablo on a beer can, you know? [Laughter] Similar to the logo that they had on my fish and chips stand, which I thought was pretty great!

Yeah, you basically need a whole line of Pablo merchandise, I think.

I do, I do, I think I need anything from like a Chia pet – remember Chia pets? I don’t know if you had them. Chia pets, and troll dolls with real hair, like a Mr Potato Head, Pablo Mr Potato head I think!

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Yeah! [laughter] I hadn’t thought of the similarity between a trolls hair and Pablo’s!

[Laughs] That’s something that just popped into my head, but I do think the Mr Potato Head could be better, because you could have three moustaches and make it sort of be like my eyebrows and my moustache! [Laughs] So yeah, we really should talk about this, because we could really make a lot of money doing all of this!

Yeah, we’re just getting the ideas flowing now! With Pablo, one of his best traits is his innocence – he was naive to begin with, but there’s something so pure about him. He’s arguably had, I think, the most transformational journey across the seasons – being possessed by the Necronomicon, having premonitions and even coming back from the dead. The start of this season is no exception, but it must be such a joy to have so much diversity in one character?

I mean, yeah, it’s hard because you see it that way and I see it as a way of I’ve been trying to fight him to become a badass from the beginning, but that is exactly what the core of myself and the character is. I think that the parallel between him and I, is that we both want to be heroes, we both have been put into situations and been given a life where people have sort of determined what we were going to be and we’re trying to reach for higher ground and with myself as an actor, being able to have the opportunity to play this guy who goes from, as you said, this innocent guy that’s fighting to be a hero – it’s really important in the times that we’re in to have that character and I think that Pablo as well is trying to be a hero and we both want leave our marks on the world.

So it is, by far, the most fun I’ve had in any role because you get to jump from gore, to comedy, to drama, to stunts, to just a whole gamut of fun activities at work, I mean it’s like playing Halloween every day. But yeah he is the heart of the group, so I try to make sure that that was the core of any of his actions throughout all of three seasons, but of course what’s really interesting is that we then decided to torment him and put him on this spectrum of good and evil, to see if he’s going to be able to control this newfound power that he has and if he’s going to use it for the good of the team, or if he’s going turn against the team because he’s had enough. So really we could go so many ways and you really can see Pablo’s life beyond the span of what we’ve seen, beyond the span of the show, I mean you can see him want to go out there and continue to save the world from evil. So I think it will be interesting for the audience to experience where we end up, I think it will be really surprising for them and unexpected – anything could happen on our show, as you know, I could die again!


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That’s what’s so great though – even with the start of season three you think you have a handle on it and can maybe work out how some of the new characters might play out, but then… [I refer to an upcoming incident]

[Laughs] Yeah, you just never know! But I’m really excited for people to see this season and to see the evolution of, not just Pablo, but of everybody. But for me it was a really draining season, but draining in the sense where it was just a lot of work, but it was super fun every day, I mean, I don’t know how much fun it was to have my fingers taken away from me for three weeks, when I had prosthetic fingers put on my hand, every morning at like four, five am and they didn’t come off till about six or seven! Though you could probably use your imagination on how difficult it was to do a lot of normal things without fingers! [Laughs] So that was a lot of fun! But as you – I think you’ve seen… what’s the last thing that happened [tries to avoid spoilers and then says] Ok, so you’ve seen me be a Deadite.

Yeah, that was great!

Yeah, but it was a shame in that so much of that got cut out for time’s sake and it was in a very bizarre location. We were in that car and it was so hard to shoot, but that was really fun for me too because we had the liberty to explore what we want to do with characters and stuff like that. When I had the opportunity to do the Deadite thing, I was like “Guys I really want a Thriller/Grinch/Freddy Krueger homage here.” So I tried, but a lot of the stuff we did didn’t really make it, so it’s really interesting to see what actually they put together and it breaks my heart sometimes, because I’m like ‘Argh, they didn’t use that and they didn’t use that, they only used this.’ But even still, it’s so much fun being able to go to work and play and have it be Halloween every day and if I could, I mean I would spend a lot more time as a Deadite, because it lives within him, it’s just suppressed for now, kind of like the Hulk.

Yes, defintely and it seemed quite cathartic for Pablo to get all his suppressed feelings and bad thoughts out.

Yeah, absolutely. I think he needed to, because it was tormenting him and I think we’ll come to see that it still lives within him forever, but he learns to sort of control it. I mean you know somebody’s going to die that’s part of the group and we’ve been teasing that this finale is going to be pretty epic and that it’s going to be a big game changer for the future of the franchise and where we go from here. I’m just teasing, that it could be quite a jaw dropping finale. We’re definitely going somewhere that we haven’t gone before, but I think people will be happy for us to go.

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Where you mentioned that some of your Deadite scenes got cut, was there anything in particular that you were sad to see go?

Well, I think it was just that were more moments in the car and there were actual shots that were part of what you saw that didn’t make it and that, to me, made it more of the character that I was going for. It was just a really interesting lesson for me as an actor, that when you have a lot of ideas and you do those takes, you really open it up to be so many different things and then when it comes back and you see it, it can be just something that you never thought it would be and it becomes its own thing.

And sometimes – I’ve learnt this from other jobs as well – is that it’s better to be, not limited, but to play things one specific way and be consistent with that, because then you can know what to expect. Whereas if you’re going with three very different takes each time you’re doing the scene, if they cut and paste take one with take two from a different scene, it can be a whole other thing. So it’s just interesting for me to look at, because I’m so close to it, but I think it was mostly for time’s sake and we shoot very quickly, so sometimes things just don’t make it, or they do and it’s maybe not as neat as you’d like it to be, but for the most part I was pretty pleased with it and just the opportunity be hung upside down, like being dropped into that trailer and have Pablo teasing the girls for a bit! I mean this season Pablo’s lips are definitely going to be touching another females lips for sure!


For the last question, to go back to the beginning – as a fan of the Evil Dead films since I was a teenager, you sometimes forget as a character, how abrasive and almost unlikeable Ash can be for some people, because I think pretty much every character that encounters him in Ash Vs Evil Dead doesn’t take to him immediately, but Pablo was an exception to that, he hero worshipped him from day one. Where did that love come from?

I think it’s probably from the fact that Pablo was this guy that people always sort of… no one ever gave him a chance, people never saw beyond what he could be and I think Pablo looks beyond people’s flaws, he always sees the inner good in people and that was a big struggle for me, because I was always like ‘I don’t understand you guys’ – I’d be at a table read and I’m like ‘How many times can I put my faith in his guy, he’s always letting us down and yet Pablo is always like ‘You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!’

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And for me and for me as Ray the actor, I have to think ‘Alright, how am I going to make this believable, that he’s still believing in Ash’ and I think it’s just that every day as a person, I make a choice to believe in myself and I think he was trying to teach Ash that, a little bit. I think in doing that he started to realise what kind of hero he himself could be. So, it was just Pablo needed someone to believe in, because no one ever believed in him and in doing so, I think they formed this amazing relationship. So yeah, I wasn’t going to be able to get around it, I had to love Ash. But I actually think I love Bruce, more than I love Ash! [Laughs] I really do love Bruce, he’s been really great to me and like my white TV dad that I never had and I love him for that. He’s been so good to me and I’ve learned so much from him, so it’s been a blessing and an honour to work with such icons like Bruce and Lucy, so here, here!

Ray Santiago, thank you very much!

Ash Vs Evil Dead is back on Virgin TV in the UK. Gimme some sugar.