Sunday, October 2nd sees the return of Starz’s hit series Ash vs Evil Dead, and to get you guys pumped for all the mayhem that’s coming your way in season 2, Daily Dead had the chance to catch up with one of the show’s co-stars, Ray Santiago, at the 2016 Fantastic Fest. During our interview, he discussed what we can expect to see from Pablo as he continues to deal with the ramifications of the events from the season 1 finale of AvED, and he also gave us a few homages to keep an eye out for throughout the new season.
Check out our chat with Santiago below, and look for more on Ash vs Evil Dead season 2 leading up to its premiere this weekend.
It’s evident from the premiere that something very dark is going on with Pablo, but I love the fact that in episode 2 we really start to see that there is perhaps a bigger thing happening than we would have thought going into it. How much fun has that been for you to explore as an actor?
Ray Santiago: First of all, as I always say, the opportunity to be the first Latin American sidekick on a horror genre [TV series] is an honor. To have a positive portrayal of a Latino on television right now is what I'm all about, because I want a little kid to see Pablo and think that a Latino person can be a hero, especially in a world where people are trying to build walls to keep the potential of Latino lives from becoming something bigger. With Pablo, what's been the most interesting thing is that he's gone from being this naive little sidekick to maybe becoming the hero that he never thought he could be.
Season 2 introduces this darker side of him, where we get to see him tormented by these post-traumatic visions of having birthed demons out of his mouth. Pablo now has an undeniable connection to the Necronomicon and this season definitely explores that connection in a way that will parallel Bruce's journey in the Evil Dead films.
Pablo goes on a journey this season very similar to Bruce in the sense that he will come out of it forever changed in the way that Ash was changed after losing his hand in the films. He will no longer be the same guy that he was before. That heart and the hunger to bring the fight to it is definitely still there, though. This season, the most difficult thing was trying to keep a sense of lightness and humor and trying to have that Pablo that was in season 1, while [also] having the darker side, this tormented side come to the camera.
That was a big thing, because I didn't want to go completely dark with it, but that was one of my bigger challenges, to just try and find the humor in things. Sometimes I just thought, "How can I do this if the lines aren't really dictating that?" Sometimes you just have to smile or laugh in crazy situations.
You mentioned the fact that Pablo's the only other person than Ash that's ever really had a direct connection to the Necronomicon, and for me, that's really interesting because as a fan of the entire franchise and this TV iteration, it's such a different dynamic to explore. There are so many really cool possibilities, because we've been watching Bruce be tortured now for thirty-something years, so to see another character come in and have to contend with the same issue on a completely different level is interesting.
Ray Santiago: It's cool that we get to see the evil force torture someone else but also, as you were saying, introduce this element of the book itself having so much power. Ultimately, the show is about the Book of the Dead and how it affected Ash. That's what the films were about, too, and the show introduces the evil force and how it affects all of us. How it's changed Kelly's character into becoming this badass who has so much anger, and how you have to be careful and not let that get to you or you will completely be someone that you don't even recognize. The book has a lot of power, and we get to see that.
I'm super excited that I got to have this opportunity, because I am a bit of a fanboy myself, and to have the cover of the book on my face and to have these visions and this whole thing happen, I'm excited for the fans to see it and I'm excited to see if they are down with it. There are so many possibilities that we can explore.
You’ve now been a part of two seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead. What has been the biggest surprise for you in terms of being a part of this? Has it been the physical aspects? The comedy? Being in New Zealand?
Ray Santiago: There are two things that have been the biggest surprises for me. One, is how something can feel so bizarre where you don't feel like it's going to work, because sometimes I'm at work and I'm like, "How is this going to work? How is this going to look good?" Then the biggest surprise is when you go home, you turn on the episode, and you look at it and you're like, "Wow." Movie magic does happen and it makes a difference. You just surrender to it when you're on set. That's one of my biggest surprises.
The other surprise is how people relate to us off camera. Engaging with the fans and meeting with fans has been an amazing thing for me. People really do idolize the characters and buy into what the show is. That has been one of the biggest surprises, the relationship that fans have with us when they see us. They do cosplay as us, and the way that they have embraced us has been one of my biggest surprises, because I didn't expect them to. I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to the fans, because without them, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing.
Is there a favorite character moment for you from season 2 that you can talk about without giving away too much? Maybe a moment that you either personally enjoyed or that really gave Pablo something unexpected to do?
Ray Santiago: Well, we haven’t talked about this much, but there is a nod in this season to The Craft, which involved Pablo. There's also some Weekend at Bernie's happening this season, too, and with the visions, I felt like we were tapping into the themes you see in the Nightmare on Elm Street series somewhat. We paid homage to a lot of horror films this season, and I don't think that we realized that we were doing it as we were going along.
I will also say that there's one thing that happens every episode this season for my character, Pablo, where I was like, "Wow, I get to do this. I get to do this." Also, I definitely got to run naked in the forest this season, and I think it's because I had said to Sam Raimi I would run through the forest of New Zealand completely naked to be on this show, being chased by Deadites. And it happened. So I'll leave you with that.