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What Baby Reindeer’s Richard Gadd and Costars Have Said About Real People Who Inspired the Series

Baby Reindeer What Richard Gadd and His Castmates Have Said About Those Who Inspired the Series
L-R Richard Gadd as Donny, Jessica Gunning as Martha Ed Miller/Netflix

Baby Reindeer fans are obsessed with identifying the real-life people who inspired the hit Netflix series, but the show’s creators have advised against making one-to-one comparisons.

Baby Reindeer stars Richard Gadd and is based on his one-man autobiographical show of the same name. It details his past experience with a female stalker and a male sexual abuser. While Gadd is appreciative of the show’s positive reception, he is not as happy with fans’ detective work.

Gadd has urged fans not to dox potential real-life inspirations, but they’ve done just that, and the woman alleged to be the inspiration for obsessive stalker Martha is threatening legal action.

The woman, who has not revealed her name, told the Daily Mail that the show amounts to “bullying an older woman on television for fame and fortune.”

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“Richard Gadd has got ‘main character syndrome,’” she added. “He always thinks he’s at the center of things. I’m not writing shows about him or promoting them in the media, am I? If he wanted me to be properly anonymous, he could have done so. Gadd should leave me alone.”

Here’s what Gadd and his castmates have said about the real people behind their characters:

Richard Gadd (Donny Dunn)

Baby Reindeer What Richard Gadd and His Castmates Have Said About Those Who Inspired the Series
Richard Gadd as Donny Courtesy of Netflix

Gadd has said it’s “not the point of our show” to speculate on who the characters might be based on. That speculation has led to people like theater director Sean Foley facing harassment and threats from fans who incorrectly concluded he was the inspiration behind Darrien, the character who sexually abuses Donny in the show.

“People I love, have worked with, and admire (including Sean Foley) are unfairly getting caught up in speculation,” Gadd wrote via his Instagram Story on April 22. “Please don’t speculate on who any of the real life people could be. That’s not the point of our show.”

“Police have been informed and are investigating all defamatory abusive and threatening posts against me,” Foley added via X.

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Gadd also reminded fans that while the show is based on his actual experience, it’s not an exact retelling.

“It’s all emotionally 100 percent true if that makes sense,” Gadd told Variety. “It’s all borrowed from instances that happened to me and real people that I met. But of course, you can’t do the exact truth, for both legal and artistic reasons. I mean, there’s certain protections, you can’t just copy somebody else’s life and name and put it onto television. And obviously, we were very aware that some characters in it are vulnerable people, so you don’t want to make their lives more difficult. So you have to change things to protect yourself and protect other people.”

Gadd has also spoken about the actual man who inspired Darrien.

“It’s a true story, based on my early 20s when I went through some pretty crazy thing,” he told The Guardian. “There’s a flashback episode where we actually go back in time to Donny going to the Edinburgh Fringe and meeting someone in the industry who helps them in their career but goes on to abuse Donny and that’s obviously taken from my real-life experiences.”

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Jessica Gunning (Martha)

Baby Reindeer What Richard Gadd and His Castmates Have Said About Those Who Inspired the Series
Jessica Gunning as Martha Ed Miller/Netflix

Gunning told the Los Angeles Times that she never talked to Gadd about the woman who inspired her character, and that was by choice.

“I’m not doing an impersonation of her when we’re doing this show,” she explained. “I’m doing my interpretation of this amazing character he’s written, and I felt like it would muddy it too much because that’s not what it is. It’s all told through Donny’s point of view, and it’s based on a true story. I didn’t find it helpful really to know too much about the person just because Martha is a character, so I’m doing my interpretation of her.”

Gunning added that she did not approach the role from the perspective of a “crazy version of a stalker,” because that’s not how Martha saw herself.

“I think [Martha] felt like she was slightly magic with him,” she added. “It’s kind of an unconventional, unrequited love story from Martha’s point of view, so that’s the way I approached it.”

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Nava Mau (Teri)

Baby Reindeer What Richard Gadd and His Castmates Have Said About Those Who Inspired the Series
Nava Mau as Teri Ed Miller/Netflix

Though Mau, a trans woman, never knew the woman that Gadd based Teri on, she could feel the authenticity in the character.

“When I read [the script], I could tell that Richard really loved her, whoever inspired this character,” she explained in a Q&A with Digital Spy. “It felt like the first time reading a character that was written by someone who actually had known and loved a trans woman.”

She added, “I think I knew that it was based on real life and it seemed really important to show people that trans women exist in real life and in relationships with real people. I could see Richard’s heart in the writing and I hope that people will see it too.”

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