Riley Keough on Making Sure ‘Under the Bridge’ Wasn’t Exploitative: ‘I’m Trying to Be Thoughtful’

When actress and producer Riley Keough received the first episode of Hulu’s “Under the Bridge,” she was apprehensive. Keough wanted to make sure this story was more than just entertainment and the story wasn’t an exploitative one. “I’m really trying to be thoughtful about what I’m putting into the world,” she tells Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast.

The limited true crime series follows the 1997 murder of Reena Virk (played by Vritika Gupta), a 14-year-old girl in Saanich Core, British Columbia. After attending a party with her “friends” near the infamous Craigflower Bridge, Reena never returns home.

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Keough plays Rebecca Godfrey, a real-life journalist who penned a book of the same name. In “Under the Bridge,” Rebecca travels back to the area for a story and ends up working alongside a cop (played by Lily Gladstone) investigating the beating and attack.

Variety‘s Awards Circuit Podcast spoke with Keough about “Under the Bridge,” and what it took for her to sign on to the project. Listen below!

Keough says she first met with showrunners Quinn Shephard and Samir Mehta and shared her feelings about the themes in the story that would interest her. “They were very open to exploring those things, and exploring the gray area and not having such a black and or white opinion on ‘This is bad. This is good,’ and that was interesting to me,” Keough says.

In order to play Godfrey, Keough studied the book. And while she didn’t get to meet her – Godfrey passed away shortly after Keough was cast – Shephard did meet the author and spent time with her. That proved to be a valuable asset for the actress and her process of tapping into the character.

“She had spent three years with Rebecca and knew her very well…Quinn also had things like her diaries and her notes and these really personal things,” Keough says. “I feel like through the conversations I had with Quinn…I know she wasn’t afraid to not be like this perfect character in the story to do questionable things, and maybe not have a total sense of her direction at all times.”

The ensemble aspect of the series was also appealing to Keough. Gladstone plays Cam Bertland, the police officer who investigates Reena’s murder, but also shares a history with Rebecca. Keough says she enjoyed tapping into that exploration of the murder through the different characters and perspectives. “You get to the end and everybody’s right and wrong. She feels very human, and I love that.”

Later, Keough talks about her aspirations for directing. Having made her directorial debut with the 2022 film “War Pony,” Keough says she will step into the director’s chair again. For now, she’s in no rush. “I am just taking my time. I’m writing,” she says.

While not disclosing any information about the project, Keough does reveal she is “writing a film. I’m about halfway through.” She adds, “I have these moments where I’m just like, ‘I can’t bear it,’ and I stop. I don’t push myself through it. Maybe I should. Eventually I will be finished with it.”

Also on this episode of the podcast, the Roundtable discusses the top contenders in the limited series/anthology/TV movie lead and supporting acting categories.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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