EXCLUSIVE: Ramon Rodriguez ‘I don’t believe anything is really black and white in real life’

Ramon Rodriguez in "Gang Related" (Photo: FOX)

Don’t be sad that so many of your favorite shows are wrapping up for the summer. There are some great new shows coming out and Fox’s “Gang Related” is at the top of my “must watch” list. Ramon Rodriguez (“The Wire“) stars as the conflicted yet good hearted Ryan Lopez. During tonight’s premiere episode, airing at 9pm ET, you will learn early on why this protagonist is having to lead a complex life as a member of the Gang Task Force for the L.A.P.D and simultaneously as a devoted family member to a Mexican gang called “Los Angelicos.”

I caught up with Rodriguez during a recent press trip in Miami to discuss the difficulties his character Ryan will be facing this season, his relationship with his captain Sam Chapel (Terry O’Quinn) and his partner Cassius Green (Rza), and whether or not Ryan will have time for a little bit of romance amidst all the drama.

In order to understand who Ryan is, you need to know about his past. Will we learn about him all at once or little by little as the season progresses?

“In the premiere, you’re going to learn why he’s doing what he’s doing and why he is committed to doing all of this. What I hope viewers will see as [the show] goes on, is how much more things get complicated for Ryan. He is indebted to Javier (Cliff Curtis) because he saved his life and he feels like they’re doing the right thing. It isn’t until something really tragic happens during the pilot that he, for the first time, starts to question if he’s doing the right thing and whether or not the way they go about it is the right thing.”

Ryan's loyalties are going to be tested a lot by both sides. Will a big part of the story be his struggle with the duality of his life?

"That's going to be the constant question. This is really where the show lays. Is he loyal to the family he was raised in or is he loyal to this new family; he's made brothers and sisters in the Gang Task Force. That will be the moral dilemma that he will be dealing with as the walls start closing in on him. Not many people know who he is and he's not only trying to protect the family but also himself from being discovered. The further we go into the season, things are going to get tricky."

Sam and Cassius spend the most time with Ryan on a day-to-day basis. Will they start to get suspicious about his behavior and begin to question his loyalties?

"There are going to be some situations where things are going to get very hairy and close. I think he will get questioned by both sides. The family will questions whether I'm with them but so far, no one in the LAPD suspects him. As the season goes on, there will be moments when he's questioned about something serious."

With so many things going on in Ryan’s life, will there be any time for romance?

"There's definitely going to be some sort of romance. I think Ryan needs a romantic interest on the show to keep the ladies interested right? Why not? Let's keep everyone intrigued! You're really trying to get some spoilers from me but I'm not going to fall for that. All I will say is that there will definitely be romance and some tension and complex situations. Things are going to get crazy."

It seems like there are both "good guys" and "bad guys" that are living in a grey area. Why do you think this is necessary?

"I don't believe anything is really black and white in real life. I think it only makes it interesting and compelling if characters aren't simple on the surface. When you have heroes or "good guys" that are doing questionable things, that's interesting. Or when you have "bad guys" or villains doing maybe honorable things, that's interesting. It's complex and it does live in a grey area which I think is great. We tried to constantly do that with the show so that it puts the audience to think, 'I don't know what I would do?' Sometimes we have to make decisions in our personal lives that are tough because of the greater good and that's what the show is about."

One of my favorite relationships is between Ryan and Cassius. What has it been like to work with Rza?

"He's fantastic. Don't we all wish we could hang out with the Rza all the time? He's awesome. He's a really intelligent, talented, and my favorite, humble. He brings a lot of comedic relief to the show. The show is pretty drama heavy with all that is going on and then you have Cassius who kind of just doesn't care. He likes to have fun but he's also got heart. He's definitely into the ladies which, I'm not mad at him for that. He's a really fun and outgoing kind of guy and here's Ryan trying to be the opposite. It's interesting to see these two interacting with each other.

He was a pleasure to work with. He taught me some chess moves in between scenes, which was cool. It was just awesome to work with Rza from Wu-Tang Clan that I was a big fan of growing up."

Overall you guys have a pretty amazing cast!

“We have a fantastic cast. We have Terry O’Quinn from “Lost” who is just a fantastic actor. We have Sung Kang from “The Fast and the Furious” films and Jay Hernandez, Inbar Lavi, Shantel VanSanten, and Emilio Rivera from “Sons of Anarchy.” We’ve got Latinos, Asians, Blacks, it’s a very diverse and beautiful cast which I feel is a great representation of Los Angeles. I think people want to see that on TV.”

Check out a preview below of tonight’s premiere episode:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Gang-Related/5829883384167135112/262042179737/Gang-Related-Preview/embed 580 476]

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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