The story of how actor Ramon Rodriguez got involved in FOX’s new drama “Gang Related” isn’t that surprising — agent delivers script, actor auditions, offer is made — but what happened once he was cast is kind of a shocker.
The new show (which premieres tonight, May 22), casts Rodriguez as Ryan Lopez a cop on a task force taking down gangs in LA, who secretly is working as a mole for one of those same gangs.
Though ultimately Rodriguez found the complex part irresistible, at first he was “hesitant” to try out a network drama.
Even the script, though, wasn’t enough to convince him, at least based on the title.
“The first script they sent me was called ’Gang Related,’ I don’t know if I really want to do that,” Rodriguez said. “But as I got into the story it was interesting, it was a complex character, in a really difficult situation.”
So Rodriguez accepted, and then things got weird. The pilot was directed by Allen Hughes, a veteran director, which isn’t the strange part. This is:
“We had worked on a Nike commercial, which was my first gig in front of a camera,” Rodriguez said. “It was an awesome experience, and how I got into the business.”
Once on set, though, Rodriguez discovered that the experience wasn’t (initially) as memorable to Hughes as it was to him.
“He didn’t [remember me] because I had long cornrows,” Rodriguez said, “and the commercial was a 1975 Nike commercial with Vince Carter coming from the future to the past. And so I had these short poom-poom shorts, and an afro, and my braids were tucked into the afro.”
Naturally, Hughes didn’t quite remember Rodriguez at first. But when he explained to the director, Hughes was floored.
“He fell out of his chair, he freaked out,” Rodriguez continued. “And he thanked me, ’because of that commercial, I got to eat for a long time, that commercial paid me well.’ ”
Hopefully “Gang Related” will pay off the same dividends, nearly 40 years later.
“Gang Related” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.