James Turner chats with Ash vs. Evil Dead stars Ray Santiago and Dana Delorenzo…
Ash vs. Evil Dead is back for another season of hilarious, blood soaked action, as are everyone’s favourite Ghostbeaters, Ray Santiago (Pablo) and Dana Delorenzo (Kelly). I had a chat with the two of them to get their opinions on the new season, and to get a taste of the hijinks that happen behind the scenes.
What’s it like jumping into the same character? Have you got used to it or do developments keep things interesting?
Dana DeLorenzo: “You know, I’d say both. This season we have a new showrunner and some new writers, and they definitely went in a different direction with Kelly. So in that way it was a challenge and always exciting as we were going into new territory. But then there are certain moments where the dialogue really hits to the heart and soul of who Kelly really is. A couple of the jabs, those four letter words Kelly only knows how to speak with, and you just slip right back into it. Though I have to say, I give the credit to my hair and makeup person Tamara, and our incredible wardrobe team and designer Barbara, because the minute we’re putting on the look – the rock and roll t-shirt, the purple leather jacket, the black jeans, the boots, the hair – I’m Kelly. I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Oh there she is.’ Add a few ‘fucks’ in there and she’s back.
DD: “We definitely wanted to explore new territory though. For instance, for the first time, I think, Kelly says an entire sentence without using the f-bomb once. That was pretty impressive.”
Ray Santiago: “I think I jump into the character with some muscle memory, and then I realise that the muscle’s getting stronger, and I think that shows in the evolution of Pablo over the last three seasons. In think season three we’re going to see him fulfil the destiny he never knew he was meant to fulfil, following in the footsteps of his uncle, and really homing in on the power of his Brujoness. We’ve really got something special for the audience that we’re calling El Brujo Especial.”
Pablo’s character arc is in a lot of way’s like Ash’s. You start off as the nervous kid, and evolve into a tough cookie. Does this mean we’re going to see some Army of Darkness level cockiness from Pablo this season?
RS: “Yeah, I think you’ll be able to see a little bit of that. This season Pablo sees things very differently, and evil sees Pablo very differently. I think he has built up the strength and the courage to move forward, but he’ll definitely get himself into trouble. But I also think he’ll maybe prove to the team that he is more than what they bargained for. We don’t know what’s happened to Pablo since he’s had this undeniable relationship with the Necronomicon, and we don’t know whether that’ll be something that helps the team in the end, or be something that will make the team suffer. He’s sort of teetering on both sides of good and evil because the book lives within him, and I think this season we’ll definitely explore what it means when Pablo is fully in control of what’s going on with him.”
So some Army of Darkness level craziness with a little something extra Especial. Was this an intentional character choice, or did it all just fall into place?
RS: “Well I went into the room with the new showrunner and I had a list of things I really wanted to throw into the season for Pablo. I think about 90% of that list ended up being in the show. Short of me shaving my head on camera, everything else I wanted to happen happened. I don’t know whether that it’s just in following El Jefe’s footsteps that the natural evolution of Pablo happened, but I’m very protective of Pablo, and in having a new showrunner, I really wanted to vocalise what road I would like my character to take, and they were very open to that.
RS: “I got to play Pablo the way I wanted to, within reason. I still definitely get tortured, whether it’s on camera or in the makeup chair. I’m still paying my dues for being part of the franchise, don’t you worry.”
You mentioned shaving your head. Why was that something you wanted for Pablo?
RS: “I really wanted Pablo to have a moment where he transitions from this naïve, idealistic sidekick into something more badass, and it definitely happens this season. Maybe I didn’t have to shave anything off, but I did have to put some things on.”
What was the most enjoyable part of making this season, and what are you most looking forward to showing people?
DD: “I can’t say much, but how about a couple of teasers? One: Kelly gets her own boomstick and she is ready to pump it. Two: Kelly gets to fight a body part. Three: One of the biggest things I’m most excited for fans to see is, for the first time in three seasons, Kelly finally gets some agency. Kelly finally gets to call the shots. Every other character already has, except Kelly, which is funny as she’s the one with the most common sense. But she finally has some agency and it’s all about her forging her own path this season. Everything she’s learned, every unconventional weapon, the battle with the puppet in the cabin and getting possessed; all of that gets culminated into one specific moment for Kelly where she seizes her opportunity to go into battle alone, because that’s the opportunity she sees to stop anyone else getting hurt. And she’s willing to die for this. Because at the end of the day, she always said she wanted to go down swinging. And I’m just excited for fans to see Kelly go ballistic in a way that’s reminiscent of the very first time we saw her lose her shit back in season one.
DD: “It’s a slow burn for Kelly this season. She gets cornered in these catch-22 situations that she can’t fake or fight her way out of. A window of opportunity opens for her and she just goes for it, man! She doesn’t ask for permission; she takes it because it could end this battle once and for all. The sacrifice is high, but it sets of a chain of events that continue on through the finale. And the result of this: Kelly is changed forever, for better or for worse.”
I know which body part you have to fight and why, and I know this will only become relevant to readers once they’ve seen the show, but I still have to ask: was that as bizarre and amazing to film as it was to watch?
DD: “It was, and I could say that about so much of this show. It was kind of reminiscent of the asylum episode in season two, episode seven. In that I had a mould of my own arm and hand. You can see some photos on my social media. We have an incredible special effects team, and they did this cast of my arm, that was then part of a contraption that was attached to my bicep. I had to lift my arm up to break my own fingers, but I kept hitting myself in the face with my own fake prosthetic arm because you forget it’s there sometimes, so I had two arms coming out of the same elbow. So I caught myself with my own fake hand.
DD: “That’s what this scene was like, only it wasn’t my arm, it was… somewhere else. They made an exact replica of mine, as well as someone else’s. And I tend to go balls to the wall when I do these scenes. I don’t know how to not give 150%! But that often ends up being to my own or the production’s detriment. For example, that finger breaking scene from season two, I broke my own fake fingers. The special effects team will have spent weeks and weeks on that arm, and I broke the middle finger on the second take, so we had to do the rest of the takes shooting around it. And in this season where I fight my own body part, I gave myself some awesome bruises. If you’ve never given yourself a Charley-horse, I can tell you how to do that. Half the time you’re doing it you’re like ‘I’m failing at life,” and then the other half of the time you’re like ‘let’s go balls to the wall’ and it’ll be fine.”
There’s obviously a lot of practical effects and plenty of stunts. I saw Bruce talking about how good the stunt men were, but I was wondering if you ever got to do any of your own stunts, Ray. Any injuries to top Dana’s Charley-horse?
RS: “Well I did manage to break my finger this season, in episode one, but I’m happy to do it. I’ve always dreamt about being on a show like this where stunts, prosthetics, comedy, drama, and all these different variables come into play. I have this amazing stuntman called Luciano, we have an amazing stunt coordinator, so we spend a lot of time working with them. We spend as much time as we can get, really. I was always aware of the fact that I wanted to do as many of my own stunts as they would let me. With that said, I always practice my choreography to be the one allowed to do the stunts while we’re shooting, but they don’t want me to actually die, so from time to time my stunt double will definitely come in. He’s definitely my sensei and my safe haven. I’ll just go up to him after doing a stunt and ask some questions, or he’ll just put something in my ear like ‘put your weight on your right leg and then move your arm this way,’ and then all of a sudden it’ll just make sense. It’s all teamwork. Teamwork makes the dream work on Ash vs. Evil Dead.”
Pablo opens this season having fulfilled his dream of opening a fish and chips, taco, and computer hardware stand. Whose crazy idea was that?
RS: “Well it was suggested in season two, when Pablo’s talking about what he wants to do when he gets out of all the madness. So season three picks up with evil having hidden away and the characters being born into the next place in their lives, doing what we’d do if we had normal lives. And that’s where he’s at. But then of course evil comes back.
RS: “Ash has his hardware store, Pablo has his fish and chips stand just outside, so they’re still working side by side. They’re still homies. And I really liked the idea; I thought it was really funny. And the store itself was done really remarkably well. The logo for my space was pretty hilarious.”
You’ve got a few new faces this season with Arielle Carver-O’Neill and Lindsay Farris. I take it they were just as wonderful to work with as everybody else?
RS: “Yeah, absolutely. Having been on set for the last couple of seasons, when the newbies showed up I was like ‘Okay, let’s see what they’ve got’. And I was so shocked and so happy to see how good they were. Arielle, who plays Ash’s daughter Brandy, she’s amazing. She never complained, she took it like a champ. We definitely baptised her the way that Sam Raimi did with all the blood and whatnot. And as far as their characters go, I’m not so sure I trust this Knight of Sumeria guy Dalton. You know he shows up with the girl Pablo’s been pining after for three seasons, and no one in this Evil Dead world is to be trusted anyway, even if you may or may not be sleeping with them. And as far as Ash’s daughter goes, I think it will be really interesting to see Ash try and be the dad that he could never be. But also, Pablo’s basically been trying to get laid for the past two seasons, so when he’s in a house with another woman, things are going to get really interesting. You know, what’s going to happen if the Jefe’s sidekick is interested in his daughter? what’s going to happen if Kelly sees Pablo go after another woman? What if this guy Dalton tries to steal my girl away? In a weird way we’ve asked you to come and take a knock on our door and come join us for this weird, sort of sitcom we’ve created by putting all these quirky characters into a house and calling them a family.”
Obviously, you guys all have amazing chemistry on screen, and from what I understand you all get along really well in real life too. So I’ve got to ask: when you go out and hit the dancefloor, who’s a total Deadite, and who’s totally groovy?
RS: “Wow. I’d have to say that fortunately for us, everyone is totally fucking groovy. There are no Deadites. Everybody is living up their best life, on and off camera. Bruce takes us on these amazing sail-boating trips, and even Lee Majors comes out and parties. So don’t you worry, the only Deadites on this show are the ones that we’re killing.”
I hear you’re a really good impressionist, Dana. Can you do any impressions of the cast?
DD: “I can! I can do some really terrible ones. Is this being recorded?
It is, but the audio is only for me (sorry guys).
DD: “Okay then, this is just for you. This is my Pablo.” [Dana proceeds to shout “Jefe, we need to help Kelly,” gasping between words. It was beautiful, I promise.]
DD: “I did my terrible Ash in season one. They’re all bad, but I do a really good impression of the chainsaw” [Dana proceeds to do a lyrebird quality impression of the chainsaw. It pains me not to be able to share it with you all].
DD: “I nailed that.”
Ash vs Evil Dead season three premieres on February 25th. Catch it on the Starz network.
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor