Cliff Curtis is a New Zealand born actor whose screen roles include “Whale Rider,” “Once Were Warriors,” and “Blow”. He also starred in the NBC series “Trauma” and a new hit show on FOX called “Gang Related.” Curtis plays the tough but complex Javier Acosta, who is the head of the Acosta Crime Family. He takes Ryan Lopez (Ramon Rodriguez) under his wing and has him always on the line between being a good cop and protecting his family.
In a exclusive interview with CableTV, Curtis talked about what people could expect this season and how he views his character as a “good” guy.
Q: How did you get into acting?
Curtis: I started as a laborer and started working with my dad. That lead to working in productions and plays. Then I got into theater and my first movie was “The Piano” and then I started my film career. Then since then every couple of years I seem to find myself doing a series in the states. That is like 30 years of my life in one minute.
Q: What drew you into “Gang Related”?
Curtis: Well what gets me excited about shows in general, is if you get on a hit show you have typically a good 5 year run. I have a family now so that gives us a structure that allows us to know where we are going to be, whereas films you never really know where I am going to be and for how long. In terms of having kids in school and such it’s a lot easier to do television. In terms of creatively, there has been a really big change over the last 10-15 years the way the studios pick their film projects such as independent films. The landscape has changed. Television, largely due to Cable television, it has changed tremendously. All of those big budget directors are now working in television. So, that is one part of it. This show is so cinematic and reminds of the film “The Departed.” It has a similar kind of thing but instead of Irish gangs it has the Latino gangs and I relate to that movie genre so being someone that is interested in movies and seeing this role I was attracted to it automatically. I also have been watching Allen Hughes for a long while and knew he would bring that cinematic view to the small screen.
Q: This show is nuts. Just going off of the pilot alone I was shocked and surprised.
Curtis: The setup of the show centers around the character of Ryan which is my characters adopted son. The police aren’t able to directly link him to any of his “business” dealings. He is trying to legitimize his family. I describe my character as a Latino that wants to get out of the gang life and keep his family clean.
Q: You play your character so well because you are just on the line of being good and bad. How are you able to play that?
Curtis: I put a lot of energy in the back story that is not even shown on the screen. As he goes through the season you might hear him talk about certain things. I talked to the creators and show runners that Javiar was an orphan himself and lost his family when he was really young. So there was a whole story, his parents were lost in a fire and his children were illegal. So everyone was left to their own devices to they grew into a gang. So that’s the back story. I play it so that, the gang in my mind is that I have a soft spot for orphans and all I want is a family.
Listen to the rest of the interview with Cliff Curtis below and watch him on “Gang Related” on FOX every Thursday at 9 p.m.
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