It’s Time to Talk About Dusty on ‘Under the Bridge’

under the bridge
Under the Bridge: It’s Time to Talk About DustyDarko Sikman

Hulu’s true-crime series Under the Bridge deftly blends fact and fiction to tell the story of Reena Virk—a fourteen-year-old girl who was killed by her friends in 1997. By now you may already know that Cam Bentland (Lily Gladstone), the lead detective on the show, is a composite of the cops who worked on Reena’s case. But did you know that Reena’s friend Dusty Pace is a work of fiction, too?

Under the Bridge is based on Rebecca Godfrey’s book of the same name, which investigates the teens involved in Reena’s death. Dusty isn’t in it. Like Cam, her character is meant to represent something bigger than herself. Unlike the other characters, Dusty feels remorse for Reena’s death. She didn’t kill her, but she could have stopped it—and her guilt makes for some of the show’s most heartbreaking moments. Some believe that Dusty is based on Missy Pleich–one of the real teenagers who attacked Reena—but the series creators have not confirmed that theory.

On the show, Dusty is played by Aiyana Goodfellow. She recently spoke to The Wrap about preparing for the role. “I sort of read the book [written by Rebecca Godfrey],” Goodfellow said. “I didn’t want to be too mired by the real events because Dusty is an amalgamation of various characters. And although Under the Bridge is based on true events, it’s obviously not a retelling.”

Since Dusty is fictional, Goodfellow played the role without adhering to specific details from Reena’s case. “It was kind of fun to approach the character from a human [perspective] rather than an analytical perspective,” she said. “I think the show itself really questions a sense of reality, in terms of both its structure, as it flashes back between different time periods, but also, in the characters themselves. It’s kind of questioning how people can responsibly tell stories and investigate events like this.”

Keep reading for everything we know about Dusty and her pivotal scene in episode 6 of Under the Bridge.

What Happened to Dusty Pace?

In episode 6, Josephine Bell (Chloe Guidry) and Kelly Ellard (Izzy G.) attempt to kill Dusty. Twice! The girls are convinced she’ll tell the cops that Kelly killed Reena, so they try to get rid of her before she has the chance. Their first method is rat poison. Kelly spikes Dusty’s drink, but she throws up, unknowingly clearing it from her system. When that doesn’t work, Kelly and Josephine drive Dusty to a train station and tell her to walk on the tracks. “All your problems go away when you die,” Josephine says. Dusty takes her advice and stumbles in front of a train, but Josephine has a change of heart and pulls her out of harm’s way.

It’s a pivotal moment for everyone. Josephine realizes she’s not a killer (Kelly can’t say the same), and Dusty realizes she can’t trust anyone. Goodfellow told The Wrap about filming the train scene. “I find a level of satisfaction and freedom in portraying moments in the character’s journey that require a kind of emotional upheaval,” she said. “Acting is a really strange job. It’s the only job where you can have a panic attack and a mental breakdown in front of your colleagues, and people will be like, ‘Oh, that’s a great take.’ So it was quite strange.”

Thankfully, the scene isn’t based on real events—and the actors were spared from filming on an actual track. “It wasn’t a real train crossing,” Goodfellow explained. “So there’s just like a bunch of dudes next to me with massive fans while I’m trying to be in this really emotionally deep moment.”

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