In ABC’s newest drama, “Lucky 7,” Luis Antonio Ramos plays the unlucky former member of a convenience store lottery pool — the odd man out when seven of his fellow gas station coworkers hit the jackpot. But Ramos feels pretty darn lucky with his role as a mechanic simply because he’s not playing a gang member, murderer or any other type of criminal.
“I’m a Latino from New York, and I’ve been in the business, like, 34 years. I’ve done a lot of different shows. I’ve played bad guys in, like, every show on every network,” Ramos told reporters while discussing his new series at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles. “I actually left L.A. five years ago because I was tired of doing that. It was just sucking my soul.”
After landing his role, it almost feels like winning the lottery. “To represent somebody with a heart and soul and integrity, that’s big for me,” he said as tears well up in his eyes. “I was tired of playing bad guys and stabbing people in the neck and doing those kinds of things. It was wearing me out.”
The show is set in Queens and features a diverse cast, something producer Jason Richman said was done on purpose. There are two languages other than English spoken in the pilot — Ramos’ character (and his family) speaks Spanish, and one of the lottery winners (and her Pakistani family) speaks Urdu. “Queens is, I think, the most culturally diverse place on the planet,” Richman said. “I think there are more languages spoken in Queens than anywhere else on Earth, and that’s something that really attracted us to do some storytelling there. There are some great mixes of cultures in scenes coming up and great storylines where cultures are colliding in a really fun way in future episodes.”
But more than telling stories about different cultures, “Lucky 7″ tells the story of a group of working-class people whose lives are transformed. This is not the ultra-rich Hamptons of “Revenge” or wealthy Manhattan of “Gossip Girl.” “It’s not about that one percent,” Ramos explained. “It’s about the 99 percent of the people in the world and what they do and what they are about and how they get through a day when things aren’t really going their way.”
It’s something Lorraine Bruce, who plays one of the lottery winners, knows well. She starred in the original British series, “The Syndicate,” on which producers based the new ABC show. While “Lucky 7″ is already different because the producers are writing a 22-episode American season versus a shorter British one, there are definitely similarities between the two projects: like how money changes people and how striking it rich is a catalyst for this group of people to change their lives.
“It’s not necessarily so much even about the money,” Bruce said. “It’s just about the fact that we’ve got these people, and they’re regular people, and they’ve got stuff going on in their lives, like everyone has stuff going on in their lives. And then boom, this thing happens, and it just makes everything a bit brighter, a little bit more intense. We have more potential to make choices now, but it doesn’t necessarily mean our choices are going to be the right ones.”
The careful-for-what-you-wish-for tale also stars Matt Long (“Private Practice”), Christine Evangelista, Summer Bishil, Alex Castillo, Stephen Louis Grush (“Detroit 1-8-7″), Anastasia Phillips and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. (“The Wire”).
“Lucky 7″ premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 10/9c on ABC.