Ray Santiago made his own luck.
During the audition for the part of Pablo, Bruce Campbell’s trusty sidekick on Starz’s Ash Vs. Evil Dead, the Bronx native refused to let his nerves get the best of him.
The horror comedy’s creator, Sam Raimi — who first booted up the franchise with the original, 1981’s classic Evil Dead, followed by two big screen sequels — was there, dissecting Santiago’s every move.
“Sam asked, ‘Are you ready to film far away in New Zealand, work long hours, most of them covered in blood?’” Santiago says laughing from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami. “I just looked him straight in the eye, and said, ‘That is fine.’
“It was between me and another guy in another room. Later after I got the part, I asked Sam, ‘What did you say to the other guy?’”
The two have bonded since.
“He’s an actor’s dream,” Santiago says of the veteran producer-director. “He makes it so comfortable to be around him but is also someone you trust and respect. I can’t believe he took a chance on me.”
Sounds like a regular boys’ club over at the Ash vs. Evil Dead set. Santiago also can’t say enough good things about costar Campbell.
“He’s just a cool guy,” praises Santiago of the formerly Miami-based Burn Notice star. “He’s just that guy. We have the same close relationship on-screen as off.”
Santiago — who before his big break had bit parts in such TV shows as Bad Judge, Touch, Raising Hope and Dexter — is still cutting his teeth in showbiz and is counting on Campbell to show him some tricks.
“I try to learn as much and absorb as I can from him. He’s an amazing leader who has had such longevity in his career.”
One thing Raimi, Campbell and the rest of the crew have in common is a love for the horror genre.
“I remember watching Nightmare on Elm Street as a kid over and over,” says the 31-year-old. “Like Evil Dead, for sure, it was gory, but it jumped from tone to tone. It had a twisted, comic element. I like when you can get scared and laugh at the same time.”
Viewers can expect more of the same sick fun for the remainder of the season.
“Heads will roll,” Santiago teases. “And we have something happen to Pablo that should never happen to any man.”
While on hiatus from the series, which was picked up for a second season, Santiago works on his craft. He can next be seen at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in psychological thriller Trash Fire.