Gang infiltrator’s ‘Undercover’ mission continues | Inquirer Entertainment

Gang infiltrator’s ‘Undercover’ mission continues

By: - Writing Editor
/ 12:02 AM August 29, 2016

IAN MATTHEWS (left) and Damon Runyan in “Gangland Undercover”

IAN MATTHEWS (left) and Damon Runyan in “Gangland Undercover”

“IT FEELS surreal,” Canadian actor Damon Runyan enthused, describing to the Inquirer his inclusion in the first History Con, which concluded yesterday at the World Trade Center Manila. “You’re watching through this wall of cameras and people—it touches my heart that people have seen this show,” he said of “Gangland Undercover,” the docudrama series where he plays Charles Falco, an informant turned author.

Originally a six-episode miniseries, the History program has been renewed and will return in October. “The show airs in the Philippines before Canada or North America. We have eight episodes now. It’s just thrilling,” said Runyan, whose character is tasked with infiltrating an outlaw biker gang.


His co-star, fellow Canadian Ian Matthews, plays gang member Darko. He also feels “surreal” about the visit. “Honestly, I feel blessed,” Matthews said. “It’s my first trip to Asia. The people here have been so incredibly lovely, so beautiful… Everybody smiles. There’s not a single need of any kind. Now, here I am, I’m supposed to be the big, bad biker—it’s touching!”


Runyan revealed that he gets the same reassuring feeling from a community in Canada: “You know what’s amazing? We have a big Filipino population in Toronto. It’s the same sort of family-based love—just generous people who are welcoming.”
Rabbit hole

Returning to the series and its characters was an “amazing” experience, according to Runyan, who previously had roles in “Degrassi” and “Queer as Folk.” “It felt like, in this season, we had to explore what it is to go down the rabbit hole, come out, then have the desire to go back down again,” he said. “I feel like we all have this [capacity] within us; it seems like he can cast judgment on these characters, the bikers’ lifestyle, but we identify with that human need to prove your life with someone.”

Runyan added that 80 percent was based on actual events, but there was more room to experiment in the second season: “Now we’re looking to expand the story, the world. [The writers] are playing with the fictionalized components of the story. We get to explore an array of choices—what could happen to these characters if they were put in [certain] situations.”

Matthews, who had roles in TV shows such as “Nikita”and “Reign,” said that he’s glad that bonds got to continue in a “very intimate” way. “The relationship with this man,” he said, referring to Runyan. “[He’s] one of my most cherished friends. Without giving away spoilers, Season Two gets to explore [our characters’] relationship in a deep way. It’s guys forced into a situation—it’s very trying and nuanced.”

Doing “Gangland Undercover” has allowed them to grow, the Canadian actors shared. “I’ve done several supporting roles; there’s no small role,” recounted Runyan. “But I found that exploring this role was way more about supporting everyone else. You raise the talent level by creating camaraderie, by listening better and being more collaborative. It was less about ‘What am I going to bring to this?’ and more ‘How do we make this a renewable resource?’”

One opportunity stands out for Matthews: “We represent this [biker] culture. If you’re playing some bad arch-villain, it’s bringing your own stuff to it, representing it however you want. [But it’s] History, [so] we’re representing this as authentic as possible. We’re not talking about hobbyists. We’re talking about dudes and their [way of] life. To actually be accepted, in many respects, that was the goal I was looking for, as far as trying to achieve the essence of brotherhood [is concerned].”


The real-life Falco is proud of the miniseries, and the actors hope to continue to honor him for his bravery and sacrifices. “He’s become a friend of ours,” revealed Runyan. “He wants the show to succeed. You have this obligation to make it the best thing possible!”

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TAGS: Entertainment, Gangland Undercover, History Con, Television

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