Exclusive Interview with Rising Actor Eddie Ramos
Eddie Ramos’ star is on the rise. A young, up-and-coming actor from Queens, Ramos is no stranger to our TV screens. So far, we’ve seen him in small roles on Teen Wolf, Parenthood, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Real Husbands of Hollywood (where he shares some very funny scenes with rapper Nelly). And this November, he’s gearing up to step into a larger spotlight.
His new show Incorporated is set to premiere on the SyFy network November 30th and in it, he plays a struggling cage fighter who’s on a quest to find his older sister in a world that favors the haves over the have-nots.
Ramos, who is extremely passionate about his role on Incorporated and even more passionate about his craft, was generous enough to chat with us about the show and what it’s like to be an actor in Hollywood today.
What can you tell us about Incorporated?
I can tell you that Incorporated is a show based in a futuristic world set in the year 2074—so the very near future—where corporations have basically taken over control of planet Earth. The government has completely lost control, and it’s seen through the eyes of Ben Larson, played by Sean Teale.
Ben is trying to find my older sister Elena who was taken into the Green Zone. So, the world is divided into two zones: the Green Zone where the very, very rich live and the Red Zone for the very, very poor.
I watched the trailer, and it just seems like such an exciting show. How did you get involved with the project? Can you tell us about your audition process?
Wendy O’Brien was the casting director for the show, and she actually cast me in Teen Wolf a couple of months before Incorporated, so I’d like to think that I had done a good enough job that she was able to bring me back for the callback.
I went straight to the callback and then it was such a fast process after that. I mean, I think we were done with testing and everything in a span of three weeks and right after that, I was already on my way to Toronto to film the pilot. So the audition process was fast. We tested in front of about 40 network executives. Unfortunately, Matt [Damon] and Ben [Affleck] weren’t there, but they definitely had to give me the OK, I believe, which is really, really cool. It’s such an honor to be on a project with such heavy-hitters. They’re the best, honestly.
We went to Toronto in August, we filmed for three weeks and then, almost to the year, they finally told us we were getting picked up for season one, and we went back to Toronto again, and I just got back. I was there for five months filming.
Wow. What’s it been like working with Matt and Ben? I mean, are they super involved or are they kind of off in the distance?
Their official title on the show is executive producer, so from what I’ve learned they’re definitely the guys who were overseeing the whole show. I haven’t actually gotten to meet them yet. They’ve been so busy with their own projects—The Accountant Ben was just in and Matt was filming in Toronto at the time, too. But I believe they saw the pilot and they definitely gave some notes on the pilot. Again, it’s just been an honor to be in a project helmed by those two guys. And I think that they’ll—I’m hoping—that they’ll be very happy with the show.
That’s great. What can you tell us about your character?
Theo is a 17 year old up-and-coming cage fighter in the Red Zone and he’s basically on a mission to find his older sister, Elena, who was taken as a special agent for the Green Zone. He believes that if he uses his fighting skills inside the cage and his hustler mentality outside the cage, he thinks that he can make enough money which will then help him make a big enough name for himself that he’ll be able to get into the Green Zone. He wants to go on his own mission and find his sister in the Green Zone because he doesn’t think that Ben is doing a good enough job.
When the show starts in the pilot, we see Ben Larson come to Theo’s door, and we’re unsure who my character is when we first see him, but we understand that it’s been six years and Ben Larson has still not found Elena and Theo has just had enough.
It’s been so cool playing this character. He’s so primal, he’s athletic, he’s ferocious, he’s animalistic. He doesn’t quit. He’s a go-getter. And he’s a fighter and a survivor. Ultimately if you live in the Red Zone, you have to be able to survive because it’s dog-eat-dog. I loosely based him on a mountain lion, you know, just the animalistic behaviors of a mountain lion. (laughs) So, hopefully the audience will be able to see a little bit of that sprinkled in the show.
You grew up in New York—I’m in New York, actually. Do you feel that there are certain aspects of your character and the kind of struggles he goes through that parallel what people go through growing up and living and struggling in New York?
Oh, most definitely. I grew up in Queens, New York and it’s the largest borough in New York, It’s also the most ethnically diverse borough in New York. So, I definitely can see the similarities between Queens and the Red Zone. What I love about Queens is that you can go into Manhattan and feel this energy and this fast-paced and this ever-changing, ever-growing city with people from all over the world.
Big, big money is in Manhattan, and I always felt like there was such a divide between being on the train in Manhattan or being on 5th Avenue and then going back to my little hamlet in Queens. You know what I mean? My little, like, getaway. It felt suburban in a way. It’s not. It’s definitely a city, but it’s not Manhattan.
I think that the Green Zone is Manhattan and Queens is the Red Zone. More working class people, families; people trying to make it to the other island. It’s almost like the East River is dividing us like the wall is in Incorporated.
Being from New York or anyone that’s familiar with New York City, there’s just that energy that I was talking about before and it just kind of manifests itself in a very hustler mentality. Everyone in New York is on a mission, on their own little mission. Everyone seems to be moving at light speed, and I think that Theo has that energy as well. He’s got something on his mind always; he’s not just idle. I feel like New York is such a fast-paced place and I definitely was able to use New York City as my research for the Red Zone.
Yeah, that’s fascinating. Now, you mentioned before that your character is a cage fighter. Did you have to do any training or research to prepare for that?
Oh yeah. (laughs) From the minute we got there, the creators of the show and our fight coordinator definitely emphasized the importance of Theo looking like a real fighter. That meant that I had to train like a real fighter does. And that was in all aspects. We were training at the gym in Toronto, at the Xtreme Couture Gym where a lot of fighters come out of Canada, but they fight through there first. So, we were there for about five months, since I got there in May until the very end of September.
We trained for about four or five hours, three times a week. I think it was 30 minutes of stretching and then we would just do straight two hours of pad work and that means me hitting the bag, learning my moves—the boxing, the punching. We were very strict on the form. We wanted to show that Theo was like some of the Latin fighters that you see right now, and back in the day.
Roberto Duran was definitely a huge inspiration for my character. He was called the fighter with hands of stone, so a lot of Theo’s punches come from down below, from his legs and land with such ferocity and weight. It was just getting that down and learning how Theo moves. So, we fought, and then we would go to lunch for an hour, and then we’d come back and do another hour or two of sparring and then kicking. Theo is also a MMA fighter. So, there’s boxing and MMA.
That was incredible. I love the sport of boxing. I’m a huge UFC fan, so you know, all the research and the watching of films and I went to a couple of fights in Canada with my trainer which was so cool to do—it’s enjoyable for me. To work out and get paid, it was an excellent deal! (laughs) I can’t complain.
That sounds intense. Have you ever trained like that before or has nothing you’ve done before come close?
I did a short film called Vici about three years before Incorporated. We trained for about two weeks, and it was the director and me running in Griffith Park at like six o’clock in the morning, running up those hills and after a while, it does get easier. After all the heaving and cramps, it finally got a little easier. Then I also trained at Wild Card Gym where Manny Pacquiao fights, Freddie Roach’s gym.
I think the boxing fans will definitely know what I’m talking about. But yeah, that was the only fighting I did. I mean, I stay in good shape. I did some parkour on the front lawn of my L.A. house. I was doing jumps and handstands and just trying to stay limber, but I definitely wasn’t ready for the intense workout that they had me go through for Incorporated. (laughs)
The cast list for Incorporated is impressive–there’s Sean Teale, Dennis Haysbert, Julia Ormond. What’s it been like working with them?
It’s been an absolute blast. I mean, Sean and I have gotten so close. I knew from the pilot that we were going to be like brothers, but we’ve just gotten even closer. Spending days with that guy, I’ve learned a lot. As much as we share jokes, I’ve also gotten a chance just to sit back and watch him work, and I’ve learned so much from him.
I don’t think people, and I didn’t even understand, how much work a lead on a show does. And Sean, I mean, he didn’t shy away from it. He knew how much work he had to do and he put the weight of the show on his shoulders, and he did it with grace. You know what I mean?
He never—he didn’t do anything that was uncharacteristic of Sean. He’s just a stand-up guy, and he took care of all the cast. He was very supportive of everyone. I can’t say enough about him. He’s a great, great friend of mine and like a brother to me.
It’s unfortunate that Theo lives in the Red Zone. So, almost like that wall divided—not only did it divide the characters, but it separated the actors. Not that I didn’t get to talk to Julia Ormond and Dennis Haysbert who are excellent, great people—so much knowledge that they were able to give me—but our characters never got to work together really.
We did one dream sequence which was the highlight for me because it was the first time I think the actors, like the first seven actors, were all together. It was a really great experience. I got to be with Elena played by Denise Tontz, my sister, Allison Miller who plays Laura, Julia was there, Dennis Haysbert, Sean, and Doug Nyback. It was all of us. We all got to be in the same scene together and that was a real joy for me.
That’s awesome! Now you’ve appeared in some Off-Broadway productions throughout your career. How is that different that working on a film or television set?
I think the main difference is timing. The pace of work. I mean, there’s definitely an urgency for both mediums, however, if you’re familiar with working on stage, there’s a heavy value on the actor’s process. And everything that comes with that word, you know, the timing, taking the character home, actually giving yourself a month or two months to sit with the character. Then you would do your performance. It’s a one-time performance and then you get to go home and put it away and you get to work on it again. Each day could be completely different.
The thing with TV is, although I was able to work with this character from the time that I knew I got cast until the end of the show which was almost a year, every episode was new. We didn’t necessarily have every episode months in advance. I think we got something like two episodes a month and it’s just different. You don’t get to do the same performance every day.
It was working on the character, it was growing with the character, it was seeing an arc from the very beginning—seeing, kind of, where your character would land at the end of episode two. That was just a different type of challenge. It’s a different kind of acting.
TV is much faster than theater. I learned that the hard way. (laughs) You have to pick up your lines and get to that emotion a little quicker, but I think I rose to the occasion and hopefully it shows in the show and it was a great experience. I’m looking forward to season two, hopefully. Fingers crossed.
Awesome. What do you love most about being an actor?
I give a lot of credit to those actors who are just stunningly beautiful people who can get on the screen with just, like, pure beauty and say a couple words and take over an audience. However, I find that my acting and where I’ve leaned is more towards being able to really show some emotions that aren’t necessarily so beautiful and controlled and, like, PC in a way.
I really enjoy letting myself free on camera and that can be as ugly and as rough—I just really enjoy doing that as an actor and kind of being free on screen and getting ugly for a role and getting in the nitty-gritty of things. My character is a fighter. He dealt with so much—there’s sweat, there’s blood, there’s a whole bunch of other bodily fluids just flying around. After you let yourself get over the fact, you really do just get to live in that world and that’s some of the things that I really enjoy about being an actor.
I also have to say, I really do enjoy meeting a lot of new people and working with different artists. It’s so cool that every episode, especially for Theo’s character, I worked with a lot of day players, so I got to meet so many other actors from Canada that the other cast members didn’t actually get to meet. It was me in my own world with these new actors and that was awesome. That’s what you don’t get on a stage production because that cast is set.
What do you like to get nerdy about?
I definitely like getting nerdy about acting. I love talking about acting and being an actor and the trials and tribulations of being a young actor in Hollywood. I am starting a website for young actors because I felt like after my four years of going through ups and downs in Hollywood, I have some information and some knowledge to give away now.
I’m the eldest of three brothers, so I get nerdy about shows and Marvel, etc. I’m a guy, too, and I enjoyed all that kind of stuff before I was an actor and I still can get nerdy about it. (laughs)
You can catch Eddie Ramos this November 30th on SyFy’s Incorporated. In the meantime, check out the promo trailer for the show.