There is no shortage of serial killer shows on TV right now, including “The Killing,” “The Following,” “Dexter” and “Hannibal.” So do we really need another? The answer is yes when it is as timely and intriguing as FX’s latest entry “The Bridge,” premiering Wednesday, July 10, which focuses attention on a political crisis zone: the border between the U.S. and Mexico at El Paso, TX.
Starring Diane Kruger as Detective Sonya Cross and Demián Bichir as Marco Ruiz, “The Bridge” begins with a body dump on the bridge connecting the two countries. At first it looks as if the case will fall exclusively under the authority of U.S. law enforcement because the victim is an American judge. But when the body is taken to the medical examiner, a shocking discovery turns the grisly murder into a bi-jurisdictional crime.
“I think that the two characters — Marco Ruiz and Sonya Cross — are an unusual combination of detectives,” Kruger tells xfinityTV. “The show’s not your usual cop show. It’s a very character-driven show. You think the show’s about one thing and then it goes in directions that will be quite unexpected.”
What makes Sonya such a unique detective is that she is living with Asperger’s Disorder, which makes her a stickler for procedure. From the get-go, it is obvious that her character doesn’t like to bend the rules when an ambulance carrying a dying man tries to cross her crime scene and she refuses to allow it through.
“That’s really what drew me initially to the project,” Kruger says. “There are so many shortcomings in her personal life that appear because of that condition, yet she is so different in her job because she has this ability to focus and to really look at things from a different point of view. I had never really had a desire to play a cop, I’m not really the gun-toting kind of person, so that’s what really was interesting to me.”
Intrigued enough to want to watch? Here Are Five Things You Need to Know Before Tuning in to “The Bridge”:
No. 1: An Asperger’s expert was hired to help Kruger get the character right. Kruger was a novice when it came to Asperger’s, so she read up on it but still had concerns because she knew, to play it with conviction, she would have to put herself into a certain mindset to get it right.
“The key for me really happened when FX decided to reach out to Autism Speaks. They introduced me to a young man called Alex, who has Asperger’s, and decided to bring him on as an advisor to the show,” she says. “He’s on the set every day when I work, and I’ve spent more time with him in the past four months than I have with my partner. I’m observing him, but I’m also asking him some pretty uncomfortable questions. His willingness to be my partner in this has made a big difference. I sleep easier at night knowing that he watches over everything I do.”
No. 2: The story moving between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico makes it different, but it is also topical because it includes the real-life unsolved cases of missing girls from Juarez. There are some controversial issues addressed in this series, including immigration, drugs and gang wars in Mexico, and while the stories may be ripped from the headlines, dramatizing them is a more palatable way of educating the public, while also keeping them entertained.
“I think it’s more shining a light on a situation that most people in the U.S. and Mexico are aware of,” Kruger says. “I personally don’t like shows or movies that try to teach you a lesson, or tell you this is the way it is and we should all be doing something differently, because at the end of the day, that’s not our job. The show has to be entertaining, but what we’re trying to do is shine a light on a situation and be accurate and not partial to either side. Obviously, I don’t know how we can stop the drug cartels, or how we can find the murderer of the missing girls of Juarez, but we can show what is going on, and, hopefully, shine a little light on the situation. That’s really what I thought was interesting.”
No. 3: The relationship between Sonya and Marco is a metaphor for the Mexican-American relationship and how it could be: Marco Ruiz is a happily married man, who, as a member of law enforcement, has learned to live with the corruption in his department without becoming a corrupt cop himself. As a result of her Asperger’s, Sonya is socially awkward, whereas Marco is a people person. Marco represents an idealized version of Mexican men — very Latin and charming, while Sonya is very American in being all about the rules and enforcing the law. Their relationship is about two very different cultures coming together to trying to make it work.
“Our characters are not trying to make a political statement,” Kruger says. “But it is pretty obvious how different our ways of operating are on the show and how we look at the world quite differently. I think it is a little bit of a metaphor of how we’re trying to solve crimes, shine a light on those horrible situations that present themselves. We’ll see what happens, we’ll see how the season evolves and, maybe if there is a second season, what direction it will go.”
No. 4: “The Bridge” is based on a Scandinavian show. The American adaptation keeps the tone of the original, as well as the intrigue and the skeleton of the story, but the colors are different because the locale has changed to El Paso and Juarez. As a result, it’s warmer and lighter and sunnier. The characters are pretty much the same, but the storylines will evolve a little bit with the major difference being that we get to see Sonya’s personal life much more than in the original show.
“Where we go away from the original show is that the writers agreed to write a backstory to her character, which we will come to explore as the show goes on. It will really show you a very emotional side of Sonya,” Kruger says. “I’m always very excited to play it because she so often could come across as being blunt or standoffish, which is not at all the case, because people with Asperger’s have empathy and they have feelings, but they just don’t know when to show those emotions. There’s a delay there. They understand when somebody is pissed off, or their behavior causes people to misread their intentions, but they just don’t understand what it is they said.”
No. 5: Lieutenant Hank Wade (Ted Levine) is Sonya’s mentor in the police department and someone with whom she has a close relationship. Hank is the one person that Sonya can turn to when she makes one of her social blunders to help her understand what it was she did.
“Definitely, Hank is a character that knows Sonya better than most,” Kruger says. “He’s a father figure for her. You will come to find out why in the show, with my backstory, the idea being that my sister was killed when we were teenagers, without giving away too much, so that is the private backstory that we’ll come to explore through Ted’s character.”
“The Bridge” premieres Wednesday, July 10 at 10/9c on FX.