Interview: Ash vs Evil Dead’s Ray Santiago is leaving his mark on the world

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The Great and Powerful Raimi

RS: My rep called me and told me I was at the right place and to go back. I left my car nearly on the side of the road and ran back to the audition. When I walked into the room, it was as if I had been chased by Deadites already. So, when I saw Sam Raimi, I felt like I had been rescued. I walked into the room so any nerves that I had went away.

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After that I met Bruce in the same room. He was soft but he was hard at the same time. He had that “Ash” quality that we all love. I remember him helping me set something up, it was some sort of chair or stand. He started helping me and it was the moment where I saw him help me for the first time. I thought okay, he’s on my side.

Sam had me take my shirt off in the audition. He was like, “How’s your body? You understand you have to be very physically inclined to do stunts and stuff like that.” I said, “Absolutely. I will do anything for this role.”

They gave me tons of direction. Sam went handheld and did this 360 shot where he took the camera and followed me around in the middle of my audition. It was not your typical audition. It definitely was fulfilling. You learn to leave everything in the room. If it works out, great. I strive for excellence not perfection.

It felt like an excellent audition. I took their direction. They seemed to be vibing with me but you just never know. Do they want someone taller, buffer, skinnier, shorter (if that’s even possible)?

Moment of Truth

RS: After that I had to test for the network. Sam Raimi came into the room. There was another person I was testing against and they put us in separate little rooms.

Sam said, “Hey, I just wanted you to know, just do what you did. You have to show the network you can do what you do. I believe in you. Show them what you got. Remember Pablo is the heart of the unit and I can tell you’re a good guy. Just rely on that and rely on Pablo being the heart of the unit. You’ll be fine.”

I said to him, “I brought my broom today. When we were rehearsing the other day, I felt like I didn’t want to pretend to sweep up this broken glass in Value Stop.”

He said, “I’m glad. I was wondering why you didn’t bring it the last time.”

I didn’t want to be that actor but I needed it. It was such a Pablo thing to do. Of course, he would try to be the best at whatever he needs to do to get the task done. I wanted to bring my broom.

Sam then said, “See you in there, Pal.”

He always called me “Pal.” So, I went in there and I did my thing. When we were on set I said to him, “Gosh, you really pepped me up and you really motivated me. You inspired me. What did you say to the other guy?”

He responded, “Oh, I never went in that room.”


The Chosen One

RS: I knew then from the beginning, he believed in me. I was his choice for Pablo. So sometimes, you just have to trust that people who are behind the scenes are making the right choices. Once they do, you give yourself the freedom to live with it.

” I strive for excellence, not perfection.”

That alleviated my nerves. So many people asked weren’t you nervous about coming into this big franchise with so many fans that could love or hate you? I never wanted to sound pompous or arrogant but I wasn’t nervous because I felt that I had been chosen by the man who had created it.

When we had that conversation and I got his blessing, I knew I had a task to complete. I was up for the challenge and ever since then I go to work every day on AVED and no matter what situation they put me in, I give 150%.

Inside the Audition

1428 Elm: Do you remember the scene you did? Was it with Bruce?

RS: I did a chemistry read with Bruce my first time I met with Sam and executive producer Craig DiGregorio, the casting director and the producers.

Then when I went in for Starz, I read with a casting director in front of all of the heads of the network and all of those producers. I did the scene in the stockroom where I kill the little doll and I tell Ash about my uncle and the past that I have come from.

I tell him I believe he can help us and that you can’t outrun evil. We did a lot of scenes from the pilot episode.

La Familia

1428 Elm: Part of the reason why AVED is so successful is because of the amazing rapport that you guys have with one another. You are very much a cohesive family unit. Who would you say is the glue?

RS: I feel this is a hard question to answer because I would say at one point or another we have all been glue for each other. I think the glue has always been the work. I can say every single cast member. Bruce, Lucy and Dana have all been the glue when I needed them.

Bruce for sure, he and I have shared an undeniable relationship as his sidekick. I feel like I’m the Bubbles to his Michael Jackson.

I was about to shoot a scene one day and I had to do a crazy stunt. He said to me when I came back, “How did it go, Bubbles?”

We have this thing, he and I whenever something crazy happens on set and this started happening from the beginning, we understand the absurdity of the situations that we’re in and we look up at each other and we just start laughing. We share this look and we think, “How did we end up here?”