AshVs. Evil Dead Season One is out on DVD and Blu-ray now. Ash Vs. Evil Dead Season Two starts soon on Starz. Series’ stars Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo were cool enough to take some time out of their schedules to talk to us about what it’s like working on the series, fan reception, acting alongside the inimitable Bruce Campbell and more! Read on…
RSP - How did you wind up getting the part in Ash Vs. The Evil Dead? Were you familiar with the movies before auditioning for the role?
RS- As a kid I was a huge fan of horror films and Evil Dead2 was one of my favs. I loved movies that combined both genres of horror and comedy, an element of camp like Evil Dead. Another one of my childhood favs was Nightmare On Elm Street. As a kid I pretended to be the guys saving people from the monster and the victim running from the monster. Now I'm one step closer to being the hero I always dreamed of being as Ash's loyal side kick “Pablo!” I'm also TV's first male Latino side kick in a horror/comedy, which is an honor to bring to life and to the future of the franchise.
RSP - Given how intense fandom is around the Evil Dead movies, how have you found fan response to be so far? Any run-in’s with fans, good or bad, that stand out?
RS - Fans have really embraced Pablo. Many fans have said to me that they really relate to him and that he is one of their favorite characters. Fans have praised the new addition of characters to the show and have made fan art, even balloon art at conventions of my character, and at this year’s San Diego Comic Con I had my first encounter with a Pablo Cos Play which was so unreal.
RSP - How would you describe your character, Pablo, and what does he bring to the series that the other characters do not?
RS - Pablo is Ash’s loyal, idealistic, and awkward friend who then becomes his sidekick. Pablo sees beyond peoples’ flaws and sees the hero in ash. He is the heart of the group and the eyes of the audience. He looks up to Ash like a father and I think the series explores Ash caring about other people besides himself, he has more to lose now that he has picked up these sidekicks.
RSP - The Evil Dead franchise has a huge cult following – did you feel like you were under any sort of pressure to‘deliver’ while working on this series?
RS- The man himself who created the cult classic chose us and prepped us for this job and once I had Sam's blessing I knew I was good. He knows what he’s doing and like Bruce wanted actors who weren't going to second guess themselves. So with his blessing and my eagerness to not let down the fans, I promised to work hard, stay bloody and bring a new flavor to the future of Evil dead.
RSP - Your character, Pablo, is basically Ash’s right hand man. What’s your working relationship with Bruce Campbell been like so far?
RS- My relationship with Bruce is very similar Pablo's relationship with Ash. We both idolize Ash and Bruce in a way that leads us to become a better actor, man and hero. Bruce has taken us under his chainsaw wing and has gone above and beyond to welcome us to the Evil Dead world. He has taught me so much in just the short time the series has been on and we are always having Evil Dead family nights, from chartering a boat for the cast on Easter to poker nights in New Zealand on the weekend. Although it may not have made the cut, Pablo says in season two“I've always wanted a white dad!” I couldn't agree more.
RSP - You’ve worked on movies as well as this new TV series – do you prefer working in film or TV and why?
RS - I love both equally but I'm living for TV right now. TV shows are so great right now and as an actor the opportunity to have more time to live in any character’s given circumstances is just so yummy. As actors we work really hard to get the gig and before you know it's over. TV allows for more content and deeper exploration.
RSP- Horror and zombie themed TV shows are kind of hot right now. What do you think sets Ash Vs. The Evil Dead apart from the rest?
RS - Well, the Evil Dead Franchise spearheaded the cult classic comedic genre and we don't take ourselves too seriously. We honor the style of gore and bloody filmmaking. We also jump tones very quickly throughout the show and we do it in a short time so there is never a dull moment.
RSP- What’s the craziest thing that happened on set during the making of the first season?
RS - I'd have to say for me it would be having birthed Ruby's Deadite spawn out of my mouth. Never thought I’d call my mom and say “Hey mom today I shot my birthing scene.”
RSP- Season two starts soon – is it bigger? Better? Bloodier? What can you tell us and what else is going on in the world of Ray Santiago?
RS- Season two promises to torture Pablo in so many unimaginable ways and his connection to the Necronomicon will go to deeper darker places. Pablo may or may not become the hero he never imagined he could be. In life he wants threethings. To live, be a hero, and get the girl. I can tell you that at least one of those things will happen.
RSP - With season one over and done with and season two set to premiere soon, how would you sum up your experiences so far working on Ash Vs. The Evil Dead?
DL- I’m having the time of my life! I really am. This is a dream job for so many reasons. From an acting standpoint, I get to play with so many different genres— horror, comedy, action, drama. I’m learning the craft on such a broad spectrum— from how to sell a punch to the face to the best apparatuses to dispense varying degrees of blood. Not to mention, I get to work with the most incredible people! Getting direction from the great Sam Raimi was surreal; Lucy Lawless inspires me on a daily basis; and Bruce Campbell, the king himself,perpetually amazes me with his ability to command a room and the screen. And Ray Santiago is a great partner to have along for this ride, because not only is he charming and hilarious when playing Pablo, but even more so in real life.I’m so lucky to be a part of this iconic franchise.
But above all, the most surreal part of this whole experience has been talking to and meeting the fans. These fans are unlike any fan base I’ve seen! They are the reason this show exists—it really is a bloody love letter to them. And with a network like Starz giving the show free reign to be as over-the-top as we can imagine, it allows us to keep giving the fans more of what they want.
To sum up this experience in one word: Awesome-gory-groovy-licious.
RSP - Were you a horror movie fan or a fan of the series before landing the part on the show?
DL - I grew up loving horror! As a kid I was a ferocious reader of the Goosebumps series, and I never missed an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. I remember seeing The Exorcist and The Shining in the same year in 7th grade and since then I’ve always wanted play a part in a film like one of those. (Check!)
Army of Darkness was the first film I saw in the Evil Dead franchise— I saw it in high school with my guy friends because they were all obsessed with it.Later I saw Evil Dead 2, but I didn’t see the first Evil Dead until I was prepping for this job. Admittedly, it absolutely terrified me. I never thought a movie that was made 30 years ago would be scary to me, but it most certainly was. Had to watch it with the lights on. My 12-yr-old self would be very unimpressed.
RSP - The character of Ash Williams – his views on women are a little…antiquated. As an actress playing a strong female character, does this bug you are all or do you just roll with it and see the humor in the situations and the quips?
DL- From the get-go, Kelly was a strong female character who had no qualms putting Ash in his place. The first scene of my first audition was a version of what ended up in the pilot episode: Ash immediately offends then hits on Kelly, and she responds by slamming his face onto the counter. I loved that! I have the most fun playing this role when I get to bust Ash’s chops— which happens every episode. Since Ash has a skewed view of women— and really, himself— it works and is laughable because he’s the butt of the joke. Ash is so self-unaware that whatever he says must always be taken with a cup of salt. And it is the women who surround Ash, like Kelly and Ruby, who can be the voice of the reason (and basic common sense) and call him out on his BS. Kelly is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with Ash, and I think that creates an entertaining dynamic.
RSP - What do you think makes Kelly Maxwell different from other ‘horror heroine’ characters popular in movies and TV these days?
DL- Kelly is a a bad-ass with brains— the kind of girl who’s not afraid to use a deli slicer to demolish a Deadite face— but really she’s just a regular person with real vulnerabilities. She was thrown into this battle against evil and is learning how to fight on the fly. So what makes her different from other heroines is when she shows her fear. She does get scared, she does scream and cry when, say, her mother jams a fork through her father’s eye. She’s not always putting on a brave face because she’s not a super hero with super skills.
But,what makes her a heroine is her courage to fight through that fear, and constantly push herself to new levels of ass-kicking; like finding creative ways to turn inanimate objects into weapons. Though she can definitely hold her own, she’s not afraid to ask for help, and I think that’s very brave.Ultimately, you root for her, and Pablo and Ash, because they’re relatable, flawed human beings— and they’re trying to save the world.
RSP - At one point in season one your character gets possessed – how comfortable were you shifting gears like this and how was it having to perform under what were probably some pretty serious makeup appliances?
DL- Getting to play a possessed character was on my ‘acting bucket list!’ Sam Raimi told me in my screen test that they were thinking of a possession for this character, and wanted to make sure I was okay with it— getting a face cast,wearing prosthetics —the whole bit. My response? I put my arms up in the air like I just won a race and screamed “YES!! THAT IS SO AWESOME!!!” (Truth. They have it on tape.)
Being possessed was one of the most challenging but truly rewarding moments I’ve had in any performance. Yes, it was physically and mentally demanding but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to play a role like that.
Because we have such an incredible special effects makeup team, the 2 hours in the makeup chair getting airbrushed with veins all over my body was the easy part! The hard part was trying to say my lines with those damn fake teeth! They were HUGE and protruded from my mouth so when I tried to talk either the upper or bottom teeth would fall out onto the dirt, and since my hands and feet were tied up I couldn’t pick them up, so they’d have to cut and then a crew member would come and pick them up and rinse them off and put them back in my mouth… it was a whole ordeal! It makes me laugh in hindsight. I think the scene that took the most takes was when Brujo (Hemky Madera) had to pour the (fake) leeches into my mouth, with the teeth in, and I had to to chew them, then open my mouth to show them to the camera without choking or having the teeth fall out. That was a very tough scene.
RSP - Last year you and the rest of the cast appeared at a few conventions –NYCC was a big one, you guys all did a signing there in front of the trailer.Do you enjoy interacting with the fans face to face? Does it ever get too intense or too crazy?
DL- One of the best things about being part of a franchise like this is meeting the fans. I love listening to anecdotes about what film they saw first, which one is their favorite— and hearing how much they love the show is always thrilling. I think the highest compliment we can receive is when certain fans say they had their doubts about this becoming a TV series, with “the lone wolf” Ash Williams getting two new sidekicks— but that it has exceeded their expectations and they love the new characters and the show. They really have embraced us. I always thank fans, because they are the ones who were relentless in asking for another installment in the franchise so thanks to them I have a job! And it’s also great when I get to meet new fans. I think that is something this show does exceptionally well— it gives the life-long fans what they clamor for, while also keeping new audiences on board.That’s not easy to do.
A highlight for me at SDCC this year was seeing my first Kelly cosplay! I practically leapt over the table to take a picture with her. Pretty sure I freaked her out because I was more excited than she was. The entire fan experience has been overwhelming— in the best way.
RSP - The show was shot in New Zealand, right? How was it working over there as opposed to working in the States? Any culture shock at all or did you guys all feel that you fit right in?
DL- To quote my friend Cherie, everywhere you look in New Zealand is a postcard.It’s stunning! The cityscape, the pastoral views, the water— it really is breathtaking. I think that New Zealand is its own character in the show. It really adds a certain je ne sais quoi. When we shoot on location deep in the woods, although breathtakingly beautiful, it feels completely isolating— and that really adds that special sauce that you need when shooting a horror show.
I absolutely love it there, and I love those Kiwis! We have the hardest-working crew in the business, and we really have become one big (bloody) family. And because we all live and work over there for 5 months, it enabled the cast to bond in a way that I don’t think we could if we shot in Los Angeles. Filming this show is like being at summer camp. Ghost stories and all.
I tell everyone who’ll listen that they need to visit New Zealand. Put it on the top of your travel list— you won’t regret it!
RSP - What can you tell us about season two, what have fans got to look forward to?
Double the gore. Double the laughs. Quadruple the blood and viscera.
We go back to Ash’s hometown, so you get to see the world that made him who he is.He must confront his past and the people in it— so you know they’ll be plenty of Easter eggs for the longtime fans!
And now that Ruby is part of the team, it creates a new dynamic with Pablo and Kelly. Evil takes it to a whole new level this season, and watching the Ghostbeaters try and deal with the hell that has unleashed on each of them will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Season 2 has an incredible star cast including the legendary Lee Majors, Ted Raimi, and Michelle Hurd - all of whom had an extra layer of magic to the show this year. And, since Ash’s dad is in the show, you know what that means: DOUBLE the amount of quotable one-liners! Get the GIFs ready!
Also,this season features the most offensive yet painfully hilarious Ash fight yet,the most dangerous villain we’ve seen in the franchise, and a puppet.
A puppet, people.
Need I say more?