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The Stars Of Hulu’s ‘Under The Bridge’ Wanted To Do Reena Virk’s Tragic Story Justice

Murder, secrets, and startling truths. That’s what Hulu’s new series Under the Bridge brings to the screen as it tells the 1997 true story of fourteen-year-old Reena Virk who disappears after spending a night out with friends — aka “The Shoreline Six” — and is later found dead. The series takes viewers on a rollercoaster experience as author Rebecca Godfrey (played by Riley Keough) and local police officer Cam Bentland (Lily Gladstone) work to uncover the truth about Reena’s killer. 

Almost 10 years after Rebecca Godfrey told Reena’s story in her novel Under The Bridge, the Hulu series’ creator Quinn Shephard is now shedding light on this heartbreaking and tragic event. Shephard first read Godfrey’s book about Reena Virk’s murder in 2019 and was instantly hooked on this true crime, which compelled her to create the series.  

“It’s so fascinating. I had never really gravitated towards doing true crime or sought it out, but the book had so much tenderness and empathy in it, and most importantly, had a coming-of-age story about childhood,” Shephard tells Her Campus in an exclusive interview. “I saw an opportunity to touch on those themes and cycles of violence and how to stop them. I thought it was a very important story that needed to be told.” 

Since Reena Virk’s murder happened nearly 30 years ago, it’s no surprise that the Under The Bridge cast — composed of mostly Gen Z and Gen Alpha actors — had no prior knowledge of her story before filming. However, everyone did their due diligence to prepare for their roles, especially Vritika Gupta who portrays Reena in the series. 

“I read Rebecca’s book and I also read Reena’s father’s book,” Gupta says. “I definitely used the book as one of my resources, and I think Quinn and [the series’ showrunner] Samir Mehta really helped me understand [Reena’s story]… They were also a great resource.”

Under the Bridge deals with very heavy topics, like bullying and murder, which can take a toll on anyone’s psyche. But the cast knew how important it was to recognize the difference between themselves and their characters going into filming. “It’s really important to have your character [seperate from] yourself and not to let it affect you,” Chloe Guidry, who plays Reena’s frenemy Josephine Bell, says. 

Gupta had a similar approach to that of Guidry. “Differentiating myself from Reena was really important to me and being able to go home from a long [day on] set and just remember that I am Tika,” she says. “It was something that I really focused on to make sure that I was able to keep myself [separated] and [distance myself] from [Reena] while also having her in me.”

Javon “Wanna” Walton, who plays murder suspect Warren Glowatski, found it “pretty easy” snapping in and out of his character, especially since he’s had dark roles before, like teenage drug dealer Ashtray in HBO’s Euphoria. 

Staying true to Virk’s story was important to Shephard and Mehta, but ensuring the young cast received as much mental health guidance as possible was also a top priority. “We were super aware going in because the show centers around an incredibly sensitive subject matter,” Shephard says. 

Shepherd and Mehta even had the necessary resources readily available to the cast during filming.

“Gita Patel, who directed the pilot, did a ton of workshopping with the kids. We had a social worker, and a therapist on set as well,” Shephard says. “We just tried to surround them with as much positive energy as possible.”

Although the “Shoreline Six” are a group of kids in troubled water, IRL, they are an “incredibly gentle and sweet group of teenagers,” according to Shephard. They are also hyper-aware of the realities of bullying and want viewers to be aware of it too. 

“We did our best to speak about universal themes,” Mehta says. “Things that anybody who went through any sort of bullying might have experienced and do our best to come up with a story that felt authentic and that we could feel pretty safe in.”

Eileen is a senior at Fairfield University who is studying Communications with minors in English, Professional Writing, and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies. She has a passion for magazine writing and hopes to pursue a career in the field. Eileen is the Entertainment & Culture Intern at Her Campus where she covers all things pop culture, entertainment, and internet trends. Eileen was formerly a National Writer for Her Campus from April 2023 - January 2024. Eileen is one of the Campus Correspondents (CCs) at Her Campus' Fairfield University chapter. She oversees the entire chapter and works with her other CC to curate ideas and events for HCFU. She also mentors and trains the editorial team and helps create content and boost engagement alongside the social media team. In her free time, you can find Eileen creating new Spotify playlists, getting a sweet treat with friends, or obsessing over Taylor Swift. If she isn’t doing that, you’ll likely find Eileen with her six best friends from school talking about their “Big Three”: "Normal People," their favorite "Dancing With The Stars" performances, and Greta Gerwig's "Little Women."