Is Lily Gladstone’s Cam Bentland Based on a Real Police Officer?

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

In Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge,’ a chilling true story of a teenager’s murder is brought to the screen. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Rebecca Godfrey, the show focuses on the investigation into the murder of Reena Virk, who went to a party one night but never came back. The case unfolds from the perspective of Rebecca Godfrey (played by Riley Keough), who returns to her hometown ten years later only to land herself in the middle of the homicide investigation, helmed by her old friend, Cam Bentland.

Apart from the murder mystery, the show also delves into the backstories of the investigators involved, particularly Bentland, who feels more attached to the case as she relates to the victim. Because the show is based on a true story and almost every character in it is based on a real person, the question about Cam Bentland’s real-life counterpart arises.

The Fictional Cam Bentland Presents the Perspective of the Police Force

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

While ‘Under the Bridge’ brings a true story to light, there are several parts of the show that have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. The character of Cam Bentland is one of those things. Played by Lily Gladstone, Cam’s character goes through her own riveting journey, which often reflects the struggles of the victim of the case she is investigating. The show took creative liberties with her storyline and how it impacts the case, but to keep the course of the investigation realistic, the creators of the show tried not to stray too far from the real investigation.

The Hulu show puts one detective at the center, but in real life, it took the work of many police officers of the Saanich Police Force to find Reena Virk and bring the perpetrators to justice. One of those officers was now retired staff sergeant Chris Horsley. Talking about the time when the investigation was still ongoing in Virk’s case, Horsley, the media liaison officer at the time, revealed that around the same time, Vancouver hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which brought a lot of international media on the case, which elevated the status of the story, making it the biggest case of his career, as well as that of several other police officers like him. They had never seen that level of youth violence before, and what happened to Virk was truly shocking for the community.

When asked if the creators of the Hulu series reached out to the Saanich Police Department, Horsley revealed that they had talked to the people currently on the force, especially to get down the details about the uniform, the firearms, and other details about the cops at the time. They needed to do that to make the show appear as historically accurate as possible. However, because the show largely relies on Rebecca Godfrey’s book to tell the story, Horsley revealed that the accounts of the police officers who were actually on the case weren’t taken.

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

One of the things that Horsley was concerned about was the glorification of the crime through the lens of Hollywood. He said he didn’t want “people to lose sight of the fact that a 14-year-old girl was murdered and lost her life” and that the show should be taken as a cautionary tale rather than “entertainment.” He also focused on the work of Reena Virk’s parents in battling bullying and youth violence and helping change things in the country.

While the show may have changed a few details and fictionalized the character of the lead detective on the case, it does so with the intention of adding value to the story, especially from Cam’s perspective as the only woman and a person of color in the position of taking charge of the case, to which she brings her own empathy, which not only helps her solve the case but also leads her on a path of self-reflection. So, while Cam Bentland might be fictional, some truly relevant issues are addressed in the story through her subplot while acknowledging the hard work of the police officers who dedicatedly worked on Virk’s case to get to the bottom of the truth.

Read More: Manjit and Suman Virk: Where Are Reena Virk’s Parents Now?