Lily Gladstone, Quinn Shephard And Samir Mehta On ‘Under The Bridge’ And Creating A Show About “Radical Empathy” – Contenders TV

Lily Gladstone, Quinn Shephard And Samir Mehta On ‘Under The Bridge’ And Creating A Show About “Radical Empathy” – Contenders TV

Lily Gladstone, creator Quinn Shephard and executive producer Samir Mehta joined Deadline’s Contenders TV to discuss their Hulu series Under the Bridge. Based on Rebecca Godfrey’s account of the murder of Reena Virk, all three said they were careful not to sensationalize Virk’s death.

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“A lot of times, the human element, particularly the people who suffered the most are the ones who get erased,” Gladstone said. “The thing that happened to them becomes a sensationalized thing for the media and then it becomes something for consumption.”

Gladstone added that her movie Killers of the Flower Moon, for which she was Oscar nominated, faced the same issue. She felt Martin Scorsese’s film was aware of this dynamic, indicting itself for making a work of art about a real-life tragedy, too.

“It’s about bringing the voices of the family and what their experience was with the media,” Gladstone said. “In bringing Rebecca [Godfrey] into the narrative herself as the woman writing about this, that’s a great way to self-indict the sensationalism that often happens with true crime journalism, with writing these books when somebody’s career blows up because of another family or somebody’s tragedy.”

Riley Keogh plays Godfrey. Shephard decided to make Godfrey a character in Under the Bridge after getting to know the author.

“Part of making her a character in the show was removing ourselves from her perspective as the answer to what had happened or who we should sympathize with in the story,” Shephard said. “The more I got to know her the more I realized that she is a character because her own perspective shapes the book.”

The show also optioned a book written by Virk’s father about how the ensuing trial dehumanized Reena all over again. Shephard said the show acknowledges that Godfrey did not represent the only perspective on the case.

“Part of having Riley playing her was to explore how she felt about the crime but other people felt very differently about it,” Shephard said.

Mehta said the show is about radical empathy. That includes understanding Reena’s killers.

“If this show is ultimately meant to be one about radical empathy, we have to be able to access that level of empathy when we don’t want to,” Mehta said. “Because if it’s easy, if it’s someone you already like, you’re not actually engaging in that process.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.