Apple TV+’s ‘Criminal Record’ follows a complicated case where a case comes into the limelight when a police officer gets new information about it, which conflicts with the previous outcome. Errol Mathis was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend about twelve years ago and has been serving a prison sentence. But then, an anonymous caller claims that the real killer is still out there and Errol is serving time for a crime he didn’t commit.
This leads two police officers on a path where one tries to prove Errol’s innocence while the other wishes to uphold the original verdict. In between all this, Errol goes through quite an upheaval, which makes one wonder whether someone has been through all of that in real life. SPOILERS AHEAD
Errol Mathis is Inspired by Real Wrongful Conviction Cases
‘Criminal Record’ is a fictional crime drama created and written by Paul Rutman, and all characters in the show, including Errol Mathis, are fictional. That said, the creators of the show were focused on making it as realistic and raw a story as possible, especially when it comes to Errol, who is at the heart of the drama that unfolds over the season.
The idea for the show germinated with the question of the role that confessions play in an investigation. The show explores the grounds of a confession and questions whether or not the confessor, as well as the police, can be trusted about the way that confession was brought about. In Errol’s case, this question becomes the hook that draws in June Lenker. As she investigates the case and receives information that convinces her Errol is innocent, she also cannot brush away the fact that he confessed, though eventually retracted, to the murder.
For actor Tom Moutchi, playing Errol needed tapping into the sensitivity and the depth that would allow the character to have the audience’s empathy. He revealed that growing up in Peckham, he had heard similar stories and drew from the experiences of the people he has known either directly or through someone. This allowed him to see things from Errol’s perspective and to react to the situations in the show accordingly.
Moutchi also revealed that during the filming of the show, he was at a conflicted point in his personal life where he felt caged, and that further bridged the gap between him and Errol, allowing the actor a better understanding of his character. His approach towards the role worked incredibly well as the other actors sang praises of him, with Capaldi pointing out the charisma and screen presence that Moutchi brings to the screen.
In one instance, Moutchi shared the screen with Cush Jumbo, who plays June Lenker. Moutchi’s portrayal of Errol felt so real and heartbreaking to her that she started to cry after the scene was done. She told him that seeing him at that moment made her feel as if she was talking to someone close to her and felt the way it would feel for others to see their loved ones in prison, especially when they are there for something they didn’t do.
Considering all this, it’s clear that Moutchi and the writers created Errol in a way that would allow the audience to immediately feel sympathy and attachment to him and understand why someone in his position would do certain things that might be deemed questionable on the surface. So, even if the character is fictional, he feels real enough for the audience to have that sentiment.
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