Is ‘Under the Bridge’ Based On A True Story? Showrunners Discuss Speaking With Reena Virk’s Father and More


Tragic True Story Behind ‘Under the Bridge’ Unveiled: Showrunners Speak With Reena Virk’s Father

To tell the tragic true story behind Canadian teen Reena Virk’s murder in the new Hulu crime drama Under the Bridge, creator/executive producer Quinn Shephard and showrunner Samir Mehta turned to multiple resources.

Quick Facts

  • Under the Bridge is based on the real-life murder of Virk in 1997.
  • The showrunners consulted with the late teen’s father and obtained access to extensive research materials.
  • The series is based on Rebecca Godfrey’s best-selling book of the same name and premiered its first two episodes on Apr. 17.

The eight-part limited series, starring Riley Keough and Lily Gladstone, is based on Rebecca Godfrey’s best-selling book of the same name. The show premiered its first two episodes on Apr. 17, with the rest of the season airing weekly on Wednesdays. While crafting the sensitive story, Mehta told Decider that he was in contact with the late teen’s father Manjit Virk.

“I was in touch with Reena’s father, actually, and we also optioned his book,” the showrunner says. “That was a big part of the telling of the story.” Ahead of the release of the series, Decider spoke with Shephard and Mehta about their research process and how they gained a “local perspective” of the complex murder case.

Under the Bridge was filmed in Vancouver, near the location of Virk’s murder, which Mehta says added depth to the story they set out to tell.

“Just shooting the show so close to where it happened in Vancouver, almost every week, we encountered somebody who had some personal connection,” Mehta shares. “In the process, I feel like [the show] started becoming imbued with that local perspective because we were surrounded by people who lived this.”

Godfrey, whose book won British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction in 2006 and was first optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s Type A Productions, died in 2022 from complications of lung cancer. But before that, Shephard and Mehta consulted her while in the early stages of creating the series. They obtained access to the writer’s “meticulous” archives and went through her “seven years of research.”

In an Instagram post from 2022, Shephard wrote, “I have had the honor of interviewing @_rebecca_godfrey_ for the last three years for my new TV show Under the Bridge, a project which explores the life and murder of Reena Virk in 1997 in British Columbia. She has given me the greatest gift by allowing me into her beautiful mind and the seven years she spent living and writing this story. I cannot wait to help bring this to life.”

During our interview, the show creator elaborated, “We had access to pretty much every single article that had ever been written about the crime, we found things that weren’t in Under the Bridge and weren’t in Manjit’s book. We tried to zoom out as much as possible and include every pivotal detail that might have gone unturned.”

Under the Bridge is based on the real-life murder of Virk in 1997. The case inspired Godfrey’s book, which was released in 2005. On Nov. 14, 1997, the 14-year-old girl was invited to a party by a group of teens, called the “Shoreline Six,” in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada. According to Vice, the gathering started in a field behind Shoreline School, but was moved to a location under a bridge that led to the Gorge waterway after authorities arrived to shut down the party.

There, the teens beat Virk and left her with cigarette burns on her skin and other injuries. Virk walked away after one of the girls told the group to stop, but she was followed by two of the attackers. The two dragged Virk to another side of the bridge and removed her clothes before beating her for a second time. They disposed of her body in the water. After Virk’s body was found eight days later, the coroner ruled her death as drowning but found that the injuries she sustained were severe enough to have caused death regardless.

Vice writes that the coroner reported multiple blows sustained to her abdominal area, a crush convulsion injury often seen in car crash victims, extensive bruising under the skin of her face, a bruise shaped like a sneaker print on the back of her brain, and eighteen pebbles in her lungs. The beating was reportedly brought on by tensions that Virk had with her schoolmates, and she was said to have been spreading rumors about one of the girls who bullied her. During the investigation, there was widespread media outcry about teenage bullying among girls and many were divided on whether racism played a role in the murder. Multiple teens received sentences for their involvement.

Under the Bridge is streaming on Hulu.


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