John Ridley on ‘American Crime’: Show Is About Family #TCA15

Related: Complete Coverage of TCA Winter Press Tour

Pasadena, Calif. — ABC’s American Crime is much more than a story about murder.

“One of the things that I wanted to explore was the concept that it’s not about the police,” said executive producer John Ridley during the TCA winter press tour. “It’s not about the prosecutor. But really is about the family.”

He went on to explain that character portrayal was vital to the show.

“It was very, very important that people walk away understanding that we were trying to be respectful and delve into aspects of individuals and make these characters characters and not caricatures,” said Ridley.

The 11-episode limited series, which bows on March 5, looks at a murder in Modesto, Calif., and how that crime ripples through the city.

“It’s just big enough and small enough that an event like this could take on its own emotional velocity in a way that it takes over a space,” said Ridley of Modesto.

Ridley was joined onstage by executive producer Michael J. McDonald and actors, Elvis Nolasco, Regina King, Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Caitlin Gerard, Richard Cabral, Penelope Ann Miller, W. Earl Brown, Benito Martinez and Johnny Ortiz.

“It’s an examination of families, different families and how they each deal with the circumstances of a horrific crime,” said Martinez, who plays Alonzo Gutiérrez.

Ortiz, who plays Tony Gutiérre, echoed Martinez’ sentiments.

“This show is about showing the human side of it,” he said. 

“It’s about family, perseverance, and about faith,” Ortiz added.

Other highlights from the panel included:

—Ridley fielded a question about whether recent events influenced the series. “The reality is is that unfortunately these events remain cyclical in this country and as I said before it was never our desire to try to exploit any of these things.”

—Cabral, who plays Hector Tontz, praised Ridley and McDonald for showing three dimensional characters. “I couldn’t thank John, Michael and the team. I couldn’t thank them enough for letting me dive into this and give these people a voice that are voiceless.”

—Hutton addressed what it was like working with the cast and crew. “The overall, I think, for all of us, was this extraordinary opportunity process of coming together and looking at these scenes and investing ourselves in these amazing portraits of these people caught in this situation.”