'Ash vs. Evil Dead' Star Ray Santiago Recounts Bloody Scenes in the Wilderness [Exclusive]
How far would you be willing to go to land the role of a life time?
Maybe you could do what actor Ray Santiago did when he met with Sam Raimi and tell him that he was willing to be "covered in as much as blood as possible" and "run through the wilderness completely naked."
The actor of Puerto Rican descent has played a plethora of roles through the years in such shows as "The Jury," "Dexter," "10 Things I Hate About You," "Law & Order: LA," "Touch" and "Backstrom" among others. But despite his lengthy career trajectory, few would deny that the actor has just hit his career sweet-spot landing the role of Pablo Simon Bolivar, who as his last two names suggest is slated to be a major hero in the series.
The series takes place 30 years after the hit films and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash, a man avoiding any semblance of responsibility or maturity. He teams up with Pablo as the two attempt to save the world from the Evil Dead's vengeful wrath.
Santiago had a chance to talk to Latin Post about his experience landing the role, fulfilling his dream of being a superhero and the consequences of being covered in blood.
Latin Post: How did you land the role?
Ray Santiago: I was basically auditioning and this was something I called about and was told was a great project. So I did everything I could to go ahead and book it. At the time I was working and auditioning for multiple shows at the same time. I didn't think it was going to pan out so I told myself not to get attached. But then I met Sam Raimi at the final audition and he seemed really interested in me. We had a long conversation about what it would entail to keep the "Evil Dead" franchise alive in the next version that they were planning on doing. I told him that I wanted to be covered in as much blood as possible and I wanted to run through the wilderness completely naked. And I think he was really into it.
LP: Can you tell me about being covered in blood and running through the wilderness naked?
RS: We shot in New Zealand and had amazing places to shoot in. They doubled for American, which was hilarious. But these people that splattered us with blood and worked really hard to make us bloody and make it look real. Then it hardens and stays on your body and you become one with the blood. I just knew that the fans were clamoring for this for a very long time and I just wanted to not let them down. So I did my best to throw myself into every situation and we throw Pablo's character along with everyone's character into a blender. The situations are quite comical.
LP: When all is said and done, is that blood hard to take off?
RS: We have an amazing team that takes it on and we have an amazing team that takes it off. They give you facials and massages, warm towels. It is really hard to take it off. Every day I start off in the trailer really clean and then by the end of the day, the trailer shower would be covered in bloody footprints and hand prints. And at Lunch break I would go to the trailer and take a nap and then the pillow would be covered in blood. My face was actually glued to the blanket one time. It was just hilarious.
LP: Why do you think "Evil Dead" is such a timeless franchise?
RS: I think it is timeless and classic because it is such comic horror and I think that Sam [Raimi] has a steady hand in creating that genre. It comes from a group of filmmakers who didn't have a lot of money and were making practical stunts and making horror movies when they weren't the cool thing to do. They made it cool. They made it their own. They made it legendary. I do think we love it because we can laugh at the horror and I think our show separates itself from other shows because it is only a half hour and we give you that old school comedic and classic horror. There is nothing out there like it. We wanted to make something that had nostalgia of the movies but also something new for everybody. We are definitely keeping you on the edge of your seat by how scared you are but then we push you off your seat by how funny it really is.
LP: Do you remember when you first saw the original films?
RS: I first saw the second film with friends in high school. I was a huge horror fan. I was always the one wanting to be chased by the monster and also the guy that saves everyone from the monster. And I get to do that. I get to be the superhero. It's great for me to see the movie as a kid and come full circle and be a part of it.
LP: What is the experience of working with Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi?
RS: They are both really amazing leaders. Sam was really cool about collaborating and good about allowing us to throw in ideas for the characters because he wanted them to stand out and stand alone in the franchise and stand in the same room as Ash. Sam said too that Pablo is the heart and conscience of the show and he wanted me to keep that. I think he's right. I have that quality. Most of the time I am playing a gang-banger or a drug dealer so this time I tried not to put any affectations and use as much of Ray as possible in creating the role. Everyone working on the project is allowed to be who we are and bring what we have to the table.
LP: As a Latin American actor, how do you feel about the opportunities available in this industry and what needs to change?
RS: I think I feel like the opportunity is amazing. I spent over a decade doing Latino characters but I am happy to get a chance to portray one that is positive and is sort of doing good for the world. Gina Rodriguez said that we are a culture that wants to be remembered as heroes. And now someone has written a story and character about someone who happens to want to be a hero. So this is just the beginning for the character. This is my time to tell people stories and I plan on telling as many as possible. I am trying to be a role model for all the young Latinos out there because I know that as a kid there were few and there needed to be more. People like John Leguizamo I watched as a kid and he proved that it could be possible to do what I wanted to do. I want to do that for somebody else.