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Interview with Ramon Rodriguez and RZA of "Gang
FBC PUBLICITY: The Gang Related Conference Call
May 15, 2014/10:00 a.m. PDT
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by,
and welcome to the Gang Related Call with Ramon Rodriguez
and RZA. We ask you to please limit yourself to one question
and one follow-up. You may then re-queue, and additional
questions may be taken if time permits. As a reminder, this
conference is being recorded.
I’ll now turn the conference over to Chris Kaspers for open
remarks. Please go ahead.
Chris: Hi, everyone. I just wanted to thank you all for
coming on for this Gang Related conference call. We’re
really excited. The show premieres next Thursday, May 22 at
9:00 p.m. on Fox, and we have Ramon and RZA, two of the
stars, on for your questions.
So I’ll turn it over to Roxanna for the first question.
Moderator: That question comes from the line of Sheldon Wiebe
with Eclipse Magazine. Please go ahead.
Sheldon: Good morning, guys. Thanks so much for doing this.
For Ramon, you are playing Ryan Logan, and he is a guy who
kind of has to be a lot of different things to different
people while also dealing with—I guess you could call it an
identity crisis in his personal life. In terms of the show,
he has to—his ability to act actually is what’s keeping him
alive. How did you approach the role, and how was the
Ramon: So first off, his name is Ryan Lopez. I know you said
Logan, but it’s Lopez. The research for the character 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.
So I was kind of splitting my division between LAPD and then
speaking to active and former gang members. I also got to go
to a prison and speak to some inmates in there to get their
perspective on everything—on gang life, growing up, and also
how organized it is. So that was kind of the research
process of that and doing some stuff online and things like
The character was developed by Chris Morgan, who wrote the
pilot and created the show. Apparently he was in San
Francisco, and he found out that this actually happened,
that there are cops who are actually—or have been found out
that are active gang members or were former gang members. I
also asked guys when I was doing my research in the LAPD,
and they said this unfortunately is a reality and it does
You’ve got gangs that send some of their members to the
military to learn tactics and strategy and then sometimes
even into law enforcement, and they’re informants. So 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. 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
Sheldon: Thank you. RZA, how did you become involved in the
RZA: I got involved as the character Cassius Green. Actually,
Allen Hughes, the director of the pilot, he had reached out
to me after my agent sent the material. I read it. Of
course, I was really blown away by the writing of Chris
Morgan and Scott and what they had in mind for the show. It
felt more like a feature film but I wasn’t sure about going
and jumping into the TV world.
But Allen Hughes, the director himself, also reached out to
me. We had dinner, and he described to me what he thought
the character was and what it would be and what it would
mean for me to play this character, and he was willing to
adjust the character a little bit as far as his background,
bring him from Harlem, New York instead of him being a guy
that grew up on the streets of L.A. as he was originally
I said okay, it seems like something I—it felt cool. I know
Allen. I trusted his creative ability. I trusted Chris and
them guys. I met Chris at various times on other projects,
and I trusted their creative ability of what they were going
to try to bring to the series. And when you do something
like this, I thought it was going to be a pilot.
You never know if it’s going to get picked up or not, so you
come on board and you give your best energy toward the
pilot, and I guess the network saw it and they thought they
put a good team together, and we would want to do a season
of it. So that was my attraction to it, and I’m really happy
to be on board with it.
Sheldon: Thank you so much guys.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie
Steinberg with Starry Constellation. Please go ahead.
Jamie: Hi. It’s such a pleasure to speak with you both. Thank
you for your time. I was wondering if there’s anything about
these characters that you added that wasn’t originally
scripted for you?
Ramon: For Ryan there was a ton of back story that—there was
some stuff that Chris kind of had a general idea of what he
wanted for the story and for Ryan, and then I think as we
sat down with Scott—I sat down with Scott and Chris, and we
just started discussing characters’ journeys. And a lot of
the stuff, specifically with Ryan, deals a lot with Javier.
So he is who he is 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. 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. That
was a lot of the stuff. The pilot was written. That was set
in stone. It changed a little bit. The location changed, but
primarily a lot of the stuff we got to work on was back
story, his relationship with Javier. We felt like that was a
very—it was important to set that foundation in stone so
that we know where he comes from and why he’s doing what
Then that also affected Javier, and Cliff had some great
thoughts on his character as to what makes Javier and their
relationship bond so tightly. And then we talked about the
journey throughout the season, but that was kind of an
RZA: And for me, I think what I brought to Cassius was the
New York element. They wrote him originally, like I said, as
a guy from California, but then they were just able to
readjust him to be a guy from Harlem. So that is a territory
But when they asked me, for instance, what kind of car would
he drive, and I thought about what would a New York guy do
if you came to California. Most likely he would want to kind
of blend into the California culture, watching videos young
and getting a classic muscle car that the California guys
drive and all that. So I started coming from this New York
To me, I feel like Cassius is a guy who wanted—who wants to
be a part of the California scene, like it was more like a
fulfilling of a dream for him, a job that gave him a chance
to leave New York and to come and have a whole new
experience in life, and he chose to get a ‘69 Roadrunner
rather than a modern car, because he has his California
fantasy in his head.
But I think what I wanted—they told me that the guy was
smart, and he had spent years as a DEA officer, and so I
want to make sure that he had something studious about him,
so I think the glasses was something that I wanted to put on
the character. I said, “Let me wear glasses while I’m in the
office at least sometimes.” Sometimes I’ll wear them while
I’m doing tactics, but mostly inside the office and
throughout the series you’ll see him put his glasses on.
I think he’s a smart guy that after he went to school and
college and everything and chose to be a law enforcement
officer. He chose to be different from his neighborhood. So
I think some of that element is what I’m trying to bring out
of him, and some of it was written, and some of it was me
thinking like what would make him a little different being
that he’s not from California.
Jamie: Great. Thank you guys so much.
Moderator: Our next question comes from the line of coal play
with Red Carpet Crash. Please go ahead.
Cole: Hey, guys. How’s it going? My first question is for RZA.
You’ve worked with an eclectic list of directors such as Jim
Jarmusch and Ridley Scott, and of course you’ve directed
yourself, so you have a bit of background of how the process
works. What actually brought you to this project? What
attracted you to it specifically, to Gang Related, because
it’s a television program which is a different format than
films? So I was just kind of curious what brought you to
RZA: It was mostly the writing. Like I said, when I read
this—I’m going to save a screenplay even though it was a
teleplay—when I read it, it just read like a movie. And
wanting to challenge myself as an actor—I played a cop in a
movie called American Gangster and I liked the energy that
it brought to me. For me from my neighborhood it’s a little
ironic that I get to play the good guy, and I wanted to take
Now, TV is of course something very different from my past
work, and it’s something that demands a certain kind of
schedule and a certain kind of commitment, and I think that
when I got on board—of course, you’re never sure—as a pilot
you’re never sure what’s going to happen. But once the green
light was given and we had to engage, I went on there as a
And every week the difference between a film and TV is that
you get a new director almost every week, and so you really
got to readjust every week, and there’ve been times when I
felt a little out of place in a sense. So the director
hasn’t been there for six weeks, so he doesn’t know what the
characters like we know the characters. But when you take on
a job like this and it’s a commitment to a network, you’ve
got to—a part of you got to become puppeteered, and I’m
willing to be a puppet in somebody’s hands.
Cole: Okay, cool. I appreciate that, man. I’m going to see
you performing in Houston at Free Press at the end of the
month. I’m real excited to cover that event.
RZA: I’ll be holding my blank on stage and that one. That’s a
whole different guy.
Cole: Alright, man. Well, I’m excited for that one. Take
care. I have a follow-up for Ramon if that’s alright?
Cole: Alright, Ramon, I was drawn to the line in my press kit
“every villain has a noble cause, and every hero has a dark
side.” This shade of gray is an element that I’ve found to
be lacking in pretty much every other police drama that I’ve
seen on television right now. What themes such as this are
you most excited for the audience to experience?
Ramon: What scenes?
Cole: Yes, what scenes. Excuse me.
Ramon: I mean, I think there’s a lot. I think it’s really
well written, and there are a lot of really great directors
that came in and did some really fantastic work, and so
there are a lot of great moments. I mean, what’s really
interesting is that I think every character is very dynamic
and complex. Like you said, it’s not black and white. So
each character as you learn and kind of discover about them,
they’ve got stuff going on.
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’m excited 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.
But there are some great journeys where you think you know
someone, you think you know who they are and how they’ll
behave, and something is going to affect them. Something is
going to change them. And that’s another thing, an aspect
that I love about the show is things that happen often are
going to have an effect later on. It could be a small thing.
A seed will be planted early on, but everything has a bit of
a ripple effect, which I love because to me that’s a very
kind of universal theme where in life it could be karmic,
where you do something and something—you know, there’ll be a
Every action has a reaction, and that happens in the show a
lot where things will happen, and then it might come back
later on, and you’ll go, “Oh wow. I remember when that
originally happened it didn’t make sense, but now it does.”
That, to me, kind of takes very intelligent writing. These
writers have really thought out the whole season, and they
did callbacks to things, which I always find really
captivating and interesting when I watch TV—where I’m like
they’re smarter than me. They thought this out, and I love
Cole: Yeah, right. Absolutely. I appreciate your time guys.
Take it easy.
Moderator: Our next question comes in the line of Krista Chan
with TV Mega-site. Please go ahead.
Krista: Hi, thanks for taking the call today. My question is
for both of you. I just wanted to know is there anything
that you had to do specifically to get into the role to
adapt to the character that you’re playing?
RZA: I’ll jump first on this one. Coming up from a guy that
for me being blank known to be the villain of the world, so
I did take time to spend time with police officers. I have
some friends that are in law enforcement that I invited out
to my California house and spent the blank with me, and we
would talk about police stories and situations. I tried to
absorb some of their life and personal lives into my life,
which will make me become who Cassius is.
I think one for me also is I play a character who becomes
partners with Ryan Lopez, and he doesn’t know Lopez as well
as some of the other people. He wasn’t his ride-along guy.
And I think that during the process of—during this show that
Cassius gets to know Ryan in the same way that as me,
myself, have to get to know Ramon. I’ve seen his work, and I
knew of his , but we’re not friends that came together. We
became—I would like to say we became friends working on his
job. I hope he’s my friend now.
Ramon: Yeah, man. Come on.
RZA: Right. I actually love the process that we went through
growing not only on-screen but also growing as two guys, and
I think some of that as the season goes on it spills over,
and you feel it, and I think that was something that was
very important, and I think we allowed—I know I allowed. I
think it’s something we allowed to bring to the table.
Ramon: Yes, and like I said before, I definitely spent some
time with the LAPD. I spent some time speaking to former and
active gang members, whether it was through the LAPD sources
or through some direct contacts that I had with people, and
then I did—I did some reading. There’s a great book that I
read called The Black Hand by—I believe it’s Chris
Blatchford. He wrote a cool book about the Mexican Mafia and
about this guy specifically, “Boxer” Enriquez. It was kind
of like his story.
And it was fascinating because he’s a guy who was a made guy
in the Mexican Mafia and how he kind of flipped to the feds
and gave information. So anyway, there was a lot of reading
and also just eventually, like RZA was saying, just the
chemistry stuff and once we all got to meet each other and
hang out a little bit and we did some weapons training
together to develop those relationships. But a lot of stuff
was handled prior. I did a ton of research early on before
we ever stepped on set, which is always my favorite part of
Krista: Okay, great. I look forward to seeing it. Good luck.
Moderator: At this time, there are no other questions in
RZA: It looks like we said it all.
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be
available for replay after 11:30 a.m. today, running through
May 22, 2014 at midnight.
That does conclude a conference for today. Thank you for
your participation and for using AT&T Executive
Teleconference service. You may now disconnect.
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