Ramon Rodriguez stars in the new Fox series Gang Related as Detective Ryan Lopez. Lopez is a member of the L.A.P.D. Gang Task Force, and works as a mole for a Los Angeles crime family that raised him after the death of his father. Ramon has starred in movies and television including Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and ABC’s failed reboot of Charlie’s Angels.
Here’s what you need to know about the Gang Related star:
1. He Plays a Cop and a Gang Member
Rodriguez’s Ryan Lopez toes the line between good guy and bad guy in Gang Related. He joins the L.A.P.D. to gain intel for Javier Acosta, the leader of Los Angelicos and the man who took Lopez in. But Lopez forms a bond with his other task force members, especially with his captain Sam Chapel.
His allegiance to Los Angelicos will come into question when his L.A.P.D. partner gets shot down in the middle of a street gang battle. Lopez will have to figure out how bring justice to his partner and still protect his Acosta family.
Rodriguez tells the The Arizona Republic that the “show is not black and white.”
“It’s emotional, dramatic and has a lot of layers to it. Ryan is in the middle of it all, trying to do the right thing. He’s got a really good heart and is an absolute good guy in a difficult situation.”
2. He Rode Along With the LAPD
To learn more about his character, Rodriguez did weeks of ride-alongs with the Los Angeles Police Department, according to Entertainment Weekly. He even witnessed a high speed pursuit of a Mercedes Benz while staking out the thief’s neighborhood in a minivan.
He tells Entertainment Weekly about the experience.
“We start following the car, and then we have a black-and-white go to pull it over. That’s when the car takes off. That’s when the helicopters come. That’s when 10 other cars come, and it becomes a car pursuit into a foot pursuit. I get to the crime scene when they finally caught the guys — it was like 30 cops, a massive scene.”
Situations like the Ryan Lopez character happen in real life too with gang members joining the police to have connections on the inside. They also enlist in the military to “learn tactics and strategy to implement” into their battles on the streets back home. Rodriguez says the organization within some gangs is “scary.”
3. He Was Born In Puerto Rico and Grew Up in New York City
Rodriguez related to the tough childhood his character endured growing up. He moved from his home country of Puerto Rico to a small apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with his mother and three older sisters. He has three younger brothers still living in Puerto Rico.
Growing up without a father figure, he understands the influence a man like Javier Acosta can have over a young boy like Ryan Lopez, Rodriguez tells The Arizona Republic.
“I was raised by a single parent in New York. I know how impactful it can be for a young boy to be empowered by someone in the neighborhood. The influence that my guy friends had on me was massive. They were my brothers. They taught me how to become a man.”
4. He Guest-Starred on The Wire as Omar’s Boyfriend Renaldo
Rodriguez used to run the streets of Baltimore as Renaldo on HBO’s The Wire. He played Omar Little’s (Michael K. Williams) boyfriend during the crime drama’s fourth season. His other television credits include Day Break and Charlie’s Angels. He recently starred in the big screen adaptation of the video game Need for Speed with Aaron Paul.
5. He Performs Basketball Tricks
When an essay on a cockroach caught the eye of Rodriguez’s summer school teacher, it led him to attend a boarding school in northern Michigan. There, a dedicated coach helped him discovered his talent for basketball that put him through four years of college and got him one of his first acting gigs. A Nike representative witnessed him performing tricks at a competition and hired him for commercials.
Check out the video above to see Rodriguez a.k.a. The Last Samurai perform his favorite trick where he spins the ball on a pen and puts the pen in his mouth with the ball still spinning on top. (Trick starts at 0:48)