'Gang Related' star Ramon Rodriguez talks one memorable ride-along

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Image Credit: Ron Jaffe/FOX

As if the launch of 24: Live Another Day didn’t have enough drama on its own Monday night, Fox also used the two-hour premiere to debut a new trailer for its scripted summer series Gang Related, created by Chris Morgan, writer of The Fast and the Furious franchise since Tokyo Drift. (Watch the trailer below.)

Ramon Rodriguez (Need for Speed, The Wire) stars as Det. Ryan Lopez, a member of Los Angeles’ elite Gang Task Force who also has ties to one of the city’s most powerful gangs, the Los Angelicos. Its leader (Cliff Curtis) raised him as a son and masterminded his entry into the police force. “What I ended up learning on the gang side is that it’s incredibly organized — scary almost, how organized it can be,” Rodriguez tells EW. “There are cops, unfortunately, that are active gang members — or who are former gang members — and they’ve been caught and kicked out of the department. This happens. Gangs do send their members to the military to learn tactics and strategy to implement when they come back, which is the backstory of my character.”

He did weeks of ride-alongs with the LAPD to research the other side of the role — the energy of people who spend most of their time on alert, their sense of humor, how they respond when something finally happens. “To be honest, a lot of ride-alongs are not that great. There might be one or two calls on the radio — not a lot — depending on what time you go,” Rodriguez says. But occasionally, you get lucky, which the cops told him he did the day he was riding with a plainclothes detective who was trying to find guys who’d stolen a Mercedes-Benz and some jewelry. “We’re riding in this soccer mom minivan with tinted windows, which is gutted out with shotguns in the back, and all of a sudden, it’s something out of a movie — the Mercedes-Benz that we’re looking for literally pulls up to us on our left. We’re like, ‘That’s weird. Is that actually the car?'” he remembers. “He calls it in. The cop that saw the car take off wasn’t really sure of the year or model. 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. It was all over the news. I was like, ‘Wow. I get the adrenaline of when that happens.’ I got excited, and I didn’t have nothin’ to do with it. I was just in the passenger’s seat. But it was exhilarating.”

Gang Related, co-starring Lost‘s Terry O’Quinn as the Task Force leader and competing father figure, premieres Thursday, May 22, at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. Watch the trailer below:

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