Is Rupert Friend’s Bob Scarborough aka Guru Bob Inspired by an Actual Person?

Apple TV+’s ‘High Desert’ mixes comedy with mystery to deliver an entertaining story of Peggy Newman, who becomes a private investigator while going through rehab and grieving her mother’s death. To make money off her new venture, Peggy needs a case that will bring her both fame and fortune, and this leads her to Guru Bob, an ex-news anchor who has turned into a cult-like figure. Looking into him, Peggy discovers that Bob is tied up with dangerous people and owes them a lot of money. Add to this the mystery of his wife’s disappearance, and Peggy has quite a case to solve.

Played by Rupert Friend, Bob is a complex character who evokes suspicion and empathy at the same time. We never quite know whether to trust him and despite his efforts to come off as a victim of the circumstance, it feels like something is always going on with him, which makes Peggy wary of him at all times.

Guru Bob is Not Based on a Real Person

No, Guru Bob, aka Bob Scarborough in ‘High Desert,’ is not based on a real person. The show’s lead character, Peggy, is inspired by co-creator Nancy Fichman’s sister, who struggled with addiction and briefly considered becoming a private investigator. While it never happened, this gave Fichman the idea to make a TV show around a character who does become a PI while dealing with her addiction. As for the rest of the characters in the show, they are fictional. In an interview, Rupert Friend confirmed that while Peggy is based on a real person, Guru Bob is not.

In playing Bob, Friend had to understand what his character was about and what his motivations were. He found that “this guy has such self-belief without anything to really base it on. He’s someone who’s got that chutzpah. The complete self-confidence and isn’t really very good at anything.” He compared Bob to “certain politicians” who have no idea how incompetent they really are. “I didn’t say a party or say a country, but where it’s like, ‘Wow, you really think your stuff doesn’t stink.’ So that was inherently funny to me.

In the show, Bob used to be a news anchor, but one day, he had a meltdown on live TV, where “everything is stupid” became his mantra. Having quit his job, he became a “guru,” creating a cult of his own. However, he continued to be a fraud, duping people around him to buy fake art and getting involved with a dangerous criminals. The unsolved disappearance of his wife has also been a huge question mark on his life.

Despite all this, Friend sees Bob as a lonely man who doesn’t find a sense of camaraderie until he meets Peggy. “That’s one of the tragedies of Guru Bob. He doesn’t have anyone. He doesn’t have any family or friends. He has acolytes, he has marks, people he’s trying to pawn paintings off on, and that’s it. If I could want anything for him, I’d want him to have a friend. Maybe it would be Peggy; I don’t know. But there’s definitely something linking them together,” he said.

The creators of the show also paid special attention to how Bob would be presented to the world, be it his persona or the way he looked. They wanted him to be an alluring character that people would be intrigued by but also be cautious of. Considering all this, it is clear that while Guru Bob is a fictional character, the actor and the show’s creators have made sure he feels as realistic as possible.

Read More: Is High Desert’s Peggy Newman Based on a Real Investigator?