Actor Jake Ryan Spent a Month With Gang Members to Get Into Character for ‘Savage’

Jake Ryan

Australian actor, Jake Ryan, who has previously starred in Home and Away and Stan Original Series Wolf Creek, can now be seen in Savage — a powerful New Zealand crime film. 

Savage, which is now available to watch on streaming service Stan, is inspired by stories from New Zealand boys homes and the early history of New Zealand gangs. 

The story follows Danny (Ryan) across three different ages during important junctures in his life that push and pull him towards and away from gang life. James Matamua and Olly Presling star as younger versions of the character. 


According to a synopsis from Stan, “Each chapter of Danny’s life is a complete short story set in a defining time for New Zealand gangs – from the abusive state-run boy’s homes of the sixties; to the emerging urban gang scene in the seventies, where disenfranchised teenagers created their own families on the streets; to the eighties, when gangs became more structured, criminal, and violent. Together the three chapters combine to create a deeper look at a boy who grows up to become the brutal enforcer of a gang; to understand how he got there.”

The movie also explores the abuse suffered by kids in the state care system and the impact it had on the choices they made in their adult lives.


Ryan, who spent a month hanging out with past and current gang members, told 9Entertainment that speaking to men who had suffered abuse had been a particularly moving experience for him.

“To see these grown men — you wouldn’t look sideways at these guys — but to see them shedding a tear and talking about their childhood, which no one’s asked them about before, was really powerful,” he said. 

“In no way does the film glorify the gang violence or justify what they get up to but to get an understanding of what makes a young boy, an innocent young child who wants to be at home with his mum and family, fast forward to the brutal enforcer of a gang, to see that process.

“Any kid in the world that suffers the abuse that these guys did, society’s going to have some repercussions down the track.”

Savage, which was written and directed by Sam Kelly, also stars John Tui (Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw), AACTA Award-winner Chelsie Preston Crayford (The Code), Seth Flynn (Fresh Eggs) and newcomers Matamua and Presling.

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