“Relating myself to her to understand what she was going through.” Vritika Gupta on portraying a real person in true-crime series Under the Bridge

Under the Bridge, an eight-part true-crime series, retells the fictionalized version of a real event that shook a Canadian community. The show touches on many important and difficult topics of bullying and racism and is adapted from the 2005 book of the same name by Rebecca Godfrey. 

We got to chat with Vritika Gupta, who plays Reena Virk in the show, to learn more about her character, working with a star studded cast, and acting tips for intense and emotional scenes. 

Under the Bridge follows the true story of 14-year-old Canadian girl Reena Virk, who was murdered in 1997 after joining friends at a party and never returning home. Reena was killed by a group of teenage girls, dubbed the “Shoreline Six.” The series examines the factors behind Reena’s murder, and attempts to explore the “why” behind it. In addition to Vritika, the series stars Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone as Cam Bentland, a local cop, and Riley Keough as Rebecca. 

Vritika began acting when she was just seven years old, and has been a part of many commercials and theater shows. In 2018, she starred in the short film Let It Slide. She has also participated in the 48 Hours Film Project, showcasing her range and talent. 

Vritika said when she first got the audition for Under the Bridge, she studied a lot about Reena’s case, including reading Rebecca’s book and a book from Manjit Virk, Reena’s father who published “Reena: A Father’s Story.” She said she wanted to learn as much as possible about Reena and the context of the time period to get into character.

“It is really important especially as an actor to just understand your character and who you are playing and if the tears come out, they come out. Otherwise that is just your raw emotion.”

Since the show took place in the 1990s, Vritika said she made herself a Reena playlist, filled with 90s music to get into her character’s headspace. She revealed she even got to take some of the 90s clothes home from set.

We asked Vritika what her favorite thing about Reena is, and Vritika said it was cool getting to see Reena’s dynamic with her siblings. Vritika said she wanted to put herself in Reena’s shoes and find ways to relate to her.  

“It was really important to understand who she was and put myself in her shoes and take my own experiences and relate myself to her in a way to really understand the things she was going through.”

While Vritika didn’t film many scenes with Lily Gladstone, she said it was cool to watch Lily act, and said she learned a lot about staying in the moment and interacting with the scenes from Lily. 

“I was surrounded by such an amazing cast. I could not go into the room for at least five seconds without smiling.”

“It was really interesting to see how [Lily Gladstone] stayed in character throughout the whole scene and day.”

Vritika said she hopes viewers of the series learn more about Reena as a daughter, a sister, and a friend rather than judging her by how she looks and how she acted.

“I just really want people to understand that Reena wasn’t just that troubled team that was just trying to look for a way to escape, there were so many factors surrounding the way she thought.” 

Thank you, Vritika, for chatting with Young Entertainment. Follow her on her Instagram at @vritika_gupta1. Watch the rest of the video where we ask her more about filming intense scenes, learning how to cry on cue, and the importance of portraying a real person. 

Consider this:

  • When filming intense scenes, take a deep breath and get into a relaxing headspace afterwards. Acting can be emotional so don’t be afraid to have deep talks with costars and set boundaries with your work. 
  • Crying on cue is easier when you really understand your character and what they are going through in that moment. It also helps to think of a sad memory.
  • Ranges means understanding your character in stages and their different emotions. Think of your character in different levels and it will help you to differentiate between your character’s different actions and feelings.