To prepare for a role, actors will study and prepare for months in advance in hope of giving an honest and true performance on the screen.
In the case of Ramon Rodriguez, to get ready for his role as Ryan Lopez in the upcoming Fox drama “Gang Related,” he had the opportunity to get an inside look into two groups on different sides of the law.
“Gang Related,” which starts airing on May 22, tells the story of Ryan Lopez, a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department’s gang task force who also happens to have a loyalty to one of the most powerful gangs, Los Angelinos.
So for six weeks, the 34-year-old Puerto Rican actor trained and rode around with police officers.
“I spent a lot of time with the LAPD,” Rodriguez told Fox News Latino. “I spent six weeks training, weapons training, ride-alongs, surveillance, interviewing them, in all different departments and divisions.”
During that time, Rodriguez also met with members of Los Angeles-based gangs – in prison and in their homes – to learn about what lies behind the loyalty that they show to other member of the gang.
“I spent time with former gang members, active gang members, interviewing them, speaking with them, spending time with them,” Rodriguez said. “Just to understand the cultural difference – what it would be like to grow up in L.A. and be involved in gangs?”
Rodriguez said his character’s situation is very complex because Ryan feels indebted to the gang, especially the leader Javier Acosta (Cliff Curtis of “Whale Rider”), who took him in when he was an orphan and treated him like a son.
“That’s his job – his mission is to infiltrate the LAPD, get information and give it back to the family to protect the family to hopefully go legit,” he said. “He feels it’s all for the right reasons, honorable reasons. Javier wants to get the family out of the gang world into the legit world.”
But nothing is ever that simple – especially for a guy living a double life – so Ryan begins to have a crisis of conscience in which he questions if he is truly doing the right thing.
“It’s about self-discovery for Ryan,” Rodriguez said.
But it’s not just about Ryan, the actor said. All the characters will have dynamic and complex story lines and back stories that will influence the dynamic of the show.
“It’s constantly living in a grey area. We try to keep that so it’s not such a simple, black-and-white surface show,” Rodriguez said. “Every character is very complex.”
Follow Lucia I. Suarez on Twitter @luciasuarezsang