Ramón Rodríguez on His New Crime Drama 'Will Trent' — and Why He Loves His Character's 'Quirky' Side

"I adore him. I think he's just a very complicated human being that is doing his best to navigate the world," Ramón Rodríguez tells PEOPLE of his character, Will, in ABC's new series Will Trent

Photo: Matt Miller/ABC

Ramón Rodríguez has a lot of respect for his "quirky" character in ABC's new series Will Trent.

In the latest issue of PEOPLE, the actor, 43, opens up about taking on the lead character in ABC's newest crime drama — a series based on Karin Slaughter's Atlanta-set detective novels — and why he finds his unique character is so lovable.

"This is a crime drama that has a lot of heart and doesn't take itself so serious," Rodríguez says of the series, which premiered on Jan. 3. "It laughs at itself at times. I think that's the fine line only that we've been able to spar. There's some seriousness, there's some drama, but yet we are able to thread the needle with including some humor in there and levity."

"And there'll be some action with some of the cases," he adds. "And these cases oftentimes, which is important, are impacting our characters personally somehow and emotionally, or revealing something about our characters, which, that to me, is a fun way to take the idea of a procedural but make it feel serialized."

Matt Miller/ABC

When it comes to his character Will, a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Rodríguez — who previously starred in Showtime's The Affair from 2018 to 2019 — says that while he comes with a lot of baggage, he admires his resilience.

"Will is an underdog," he explains. "He's someone that grew up in the Atlanta foster care system. There's a lot of trauma that this guy had to suffer. He suffered from physical abuse, verbal abuse, and not being told he was intelligent because he was dyslexic. There's all of this trauma that this guy was bearing and caring."

"Another thing that I loved was his resilience, despite everything he'd been through," he continues. "He found a way to use what he's been through, and even the scar that he has on his body, his proof of what he has been through. But he found a way to use his experience."

The actor adds: "I love how he interprets the crime scene visually and how he can put his story together. He found a way to try to do the right thing and help others by his very unique perspective on the world. He can walk on a crime scene and read it like nobody else."

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Actor Ramon Rodriguez attends the "Megan Leavey" World Premiere at Yankee Stadium on June 5, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City.
J. Kempin/Getty

Rodríguez says the series — which also stars Erika Christensen, who plays a recovering addict and undercover detective Angie, and Jake McLaughlin as Angie's partner — does a great job at leaving fans wanting more.

"I thought [the showrunners] did a great job in the pilot starting off and meeting Will, who is a bit of a loner and a bit quirky and a bit different, but has a huge heart," Rodríguez shares. "And we see that because he adopted a Chihuahua in the first scene that we meet him in."

"When I read that scene, I was like, 'Okay, this has got me hooked. This character has a lot of heart,'" he recalls. "I'd already known the troubled past, but when I read that scene, he got me. As I kept getting to know him and doing research and learning about dyslexia — I love this character. I adore him. I think he's just a very complicated human being that is doing his best to navigate the world."

While Rodríguez couldn't be more proud of the series, he has his heart set on big goals for the future.

"I want to have my company that gets to create and produce television and film and open doors for other people, but specifically Latinx storytellers, filmmakers, and writers," he says. "I want to be able to really project that and create that space and an avenue for our people to tell our stories authentically and honestly. I know there's a big void and we hear a lot of talk about it, about the business and people wanted to get Latino stories told, and Latinx stories told out there, I want to be a real advocate. I'd like to just be a part of the solution that helps change that."

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Will Trent airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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