Based off the original book by Charles Falco, Vagos, Mongols, and Outlaws: My Infiltration of America’s Deadliest Biker Gangs, Gangland Undercover revolves around Falco, being one of only three men ever to infiltrate three different outlaw biker gangs, as he partners with law enforcement to tackle some of America’s most dangerous and feared gangs.
The show returns for its second season with Damon Runyan reprising his role as Falco alongside Ian Matthews who plays Darko, enforcer of the Vagos gang. Falco attempts to start anew after being forced into witness protection two years after he successfully infiltrated the gang but ends up on the front line of a violent war between several gangs. Damon and Ian offered us their insights into the reality of filming such a high intensity and downright spine-chilling series.
Tell us about the character that you are portraying and his backstory.
Ian: He’s a simple character, his name is Darko and he is the Sergeant-at-Arms, the enforcer, for the Vagos gang that Charles Falco is infiltrating. On the surface of it Darko represents the greatest sort of immediate existential threat to Charles Falco and you know, responsible for bringing in the darkness.
Damon: He’s a meth addict dealer and chef who gets busted and trades his time in jail for infiltrating a motorcycling gang. The first season followed the Vagos, where I meet Darko and win him over with my charms and then put him in jail. In Season Two my life is upside down, I’ve got no identity, I’ve got no source of income. Also, it takes place in Virginia Beach where there is a gang war happening and I find myself falling in love with a woman and another gang.
What type of research did you do to help you get into character?
Damon: I read every book possible and listened to audio books too but that sort of scared the crap out of me because I realised the consequences that not only transpired for Falco, but the possible consequences for playing someone like this and putting it out there and being the face of this. I was able to talk to Charles Falco and gain as much as I could from what his life was like but also try to find the similarity in terms of how we are.
Ian: I did the requisite reading and watching as well. I did a lot of research in terms of the drug culture, the consequences, human cost and trafficking of these drugs. I found that the best stuff for me was when we actually started shooting and our supporting staff was all cast out by real dudes, not necessarily the hard core vicious murderous bikers that we are trying to portray. These guys were very centred, regardless of what the rest of the world thought of them, there is a tremendous amount of certainty on their parts which I found to be wonderful and useful.
What was the dynamic between the two of your characters?
Damon: We’re both aspiring for some higher status and we’re portrayed as men with few words that speak with actions and the same fashion sense. *laughs* The other thing too is like those rites of passage, they both got through it and in the first season they achieved the exact same status, they are equals to some degree. I think they push each other in that capacity, I think they would be co-presidents but that would never happen.
Ian: It’s interesting because on the surface of it, they are antagonistic, one is distrusted by the other obviously Darko doesn’t trust Falco. But there is this basic notion of alphas clashing that becomes completely exacerbated as well as male bonding. Darko, has learnt not to trust anyone to the point where Charles Falco’s probably the first person he ever really trusted in his life. It’s really a begrudging respect, he’s done everything in his power to make sure that this doesn’t happen, to kind of break and crush this person, to have this person fail yet he manages to pass every single trial.
Have you received any threats from the biker gangs since you started filming the series?
Damon: The closest thing I got to that, that’s outside of my own paranoia and dreams was that a guy tweeted me that he was in Long Polk which was the jail that Falco lies about in the first season. He ran into a Vago who said that I have a price on my head. I didn’t know how to react, I had the instant like “Oh my”, all the blood just rushed in my body. I’m an actor! I was going to tweet “I’m an actor, I’m an actor, I’m an actor, I’m an actor”.
To sum it all up, in 10 words tell us what viewers have to look forward to.
Damon: You’ll look forward to a great love story, a gang war that is happening on the East Coast, the return of Darko.
Ian: I think a pretty reasonably authentic representation of the culture.
Gangland Undercover Season 2 premiers Friday, 28 October at 10pm on HISTORY (StarHub TV Ch. 401)