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Ramon Rodriguez: “It’s not black and white; the characters have a lot going on”

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Ramon Rodriguez was cast in a new FOX drama series called “Gang Related,” which follows members of the elite Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) multi-agency gang task force as they take on the city’s most dangerous gang members. Within the first episode, the audience learns that one of the main characters, Ryan Lopez (Rodriguez) is not who he seems.

Rodriguez said his character is very complex and layered, causing him to do a lot of preparation for the role including working directly with the LAPD.

“I had about six weeks where I got to spend time with the LAPD, which was very helpful, doing ride-alongs, surveillance, weapons training, and then also they would also introduce me to former and active gang members in different neighborhoods in South Central, Watts, and the Newton division,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez continuing working between splitting his time between the LAPD and then active gang members to get a real sense of what happens on the streets and what the gang life is like. He said he wanted to “get their perspective” on what it was like growing up in a gang, going to prison, and how the gangs are organized. After completing his research he knew how he wanted his character Ryan to come off on the show.

“I just approached him as a good guy, and we had a very kind of clear back story for why he’s doing what he’s doing,” Rodriguez said. “He’s kind of just a complex guy who’s having to protect himself and survive but also protect his family, and so he’s always putting up several walls to different people. So there’s just a psychology behind that. I got to explore that little bit.”

In the pilot, Ryan is seen as a child hanging out with gang members and then jumps to him being apart of a gang task force as an adult. Not much is said about his character and his past in the beginning of the season. Rodriguez said he did a lot of backstory himself prior to filming.

“Today as we meet him in the pilot because of his past relationship and what Javier did for him—so basically saving this young kid, taking him off the streets, raising him, loving him, treating him like a son—essentially forms a very deep bond between Ryan and Javier where Ryan feels indebted to this guy and would do anything for him, especially when Javier kind of comes up with some really honorable reasons of why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Rodriguez said. “So I think for Ryan in his head it feels justified and right. So we kind of worked out a lot of the back story stuff.”

In addition to his loyalties to his gang leader, Javier, Ryan also works with a set of complex characters that all have some secrets of their own adding an element of surprise, gritty drama, and a slew of dramatic problems that will lead to quite an exciting season.

“Every character is very dynamic and complex. It’s not black and white. So each character as you learn and kind of discover about them, they’ve got stuff going on,” Rodriguez said.”They’ve got kind of rich back stories and rich lives, and then the other thing I—probably not a scene, but I would say what I think people are really going to—what I’mexcited for people to experience is kind of the turn of events and characters’ journeys. So I think there are some characters on the show that really have some fantastic journeys, and I’m not going to spoiler alert them.”

Watch Ramon Rodriguez on “Gang Related” every Monday on FOX at 9 p.m.


Photo: FOX

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Monica Gleberman began writing in 2000. She has been published on CNN and in the Suffolk Times, Examiner, The Daily Collegian, Demand Studios, Patch, and The Tattoo.

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