FOX's new series "Gang Related" is far from being your average cop drama. While it has its chases and shootings, it also tells the story of family values and loyalties. It's sharp, gritty, full of action, and especially intriguing is the story of the person at the center of it all: Det. Ryan Lopez. Played by Ramon Rodriguez, Ryan is not only a dedicated member of the LAPD, but also connected to one of Los Angeles's most notorious gangs. Why? Its leader, Javier (Cliff Curtis), provided a home for Ryan as a child and became a father figure to him, then forced his entry in to the Gang Task Force as a way to get information and strategies to protect his gang. As we will see throughout the season, Lopez finds himself torn between the different worlds and obligations he feels to the man who raised him and to the cops with whom he's working. As Rodriguez recently told me at the advanced screening for "Gang Related", the gray areas and conflicts Ryan will find himself in are what make this character most interesting for him.
What did you most enjoy about playing Ryan Lopez? There’s a lot going on with him.
Ramon- I gotta say I loved the complexity. I loved how he's kind of the guy who is trying to figure himself out. He's well-intended taken in by this guy, Javier, and for the right reason. First of all, he was an orphan he didn't have a choice, and Javier made him a part of his family. But Javier can kind of use Ryan to protect his gang, Ryan is a tool to facilitate that. I love that idea: that premise that it's not like he's just in a gang and he's giving information, there's no, ‘What's the reason?’ Well, the reason is to take the family legit. Ryan in his heart really believes that that was the reason why he was doing it. And I think what unfolds throughout the season is he is put in really precarious situations where has got to make some tough calls.
From the episodes I have seen, it does seem as if he is conflicted at times between whom he feels he needs to be loyal to.
Ramon- He is very conflicted, very torn. As he spends more time with the LAPD, I think he forms bonds with some of the members of the task force. I also think he learns a lot about them; where he thinks maybe cops were supposed to do the right thing, but sometimes even they do things that are sketchy. The show is constantly living in a gray area where there is no black and white. There is no good or bad. The bad people are doing some good things and the good people are doing some bad things. I think that's very real. Life isn't black and white. I love that the show represents that, and hopefully we'll be able to continue that because I think I’m attracted to that and I think the audience will be, too.
Now that you have filmed the entire season, what has been the most challenging part about playing this character for you as an actor?
Ramon- There's a ton of challenges: just his situations, and his complexities, and his childhood. I just think Ryan; it was a tough character for me to play during the whole season. It was a lot to carry. It was pretty stressful. It wasn't like I was going home and being fun and light; I was going home heavy-hearted often. I would take it with me home for a little bit. It was tough. Because I'm naturally a fun-loving guy and this guy was dealing with constant stress. The writers were putting him in situations that were very difficult. As it goes on you'll see how hard and just more challenging his situations become.
"Gang Related" touches on a very realistic and a controversial topic with the gang rivalries all throughout the country. As the lead of the show, what do you hope audiences get out of it?
Ramon- I'm hoping that they will lock into some of these characters. I think there are some really fascinating people. And the family story watching, I love that we don't just show gang violence, I love that we actually show the family side of it; them eating and having these get togethers, and showing another side that I don't think you often get to see in TV or film. That to me is one of the biggest differences of this show; it kind of balances between these two worlds. You'll be seeing other sides of this world that aren't often portrayed.
Gang Related airs Thursdays at 9 pm EST on FOX. @GangRelatedonFox