Is ‘Interrogation’ Based on a Real Case?

Interrogation Kyle Gallner

CBS All Access

The latest show to drop on CBS All Access is Interrogation, a crime drama about a young man accused of brutally murdering his mother in 1983 and what happened in the ensuing 30 years. But the interesting thing about this show is that the creators based it on a real crime and crafted their story from the evidence, the interrogations, the trial transcripts, 9-1-1 calls and more. Read on to if you’re curious about the real crime, but be warned of major spoilers ahead for the series.

SPOILER WARNING: Do not keep reading if you don’t want to be spoiled. It might be more enjoyable to wait until after you’ve watched the whole season of Interrogation.

The Show is Based on a Real Case from Los Angeles

Warning: This is your last chance to avoid spoilers.

The main character on Interrogation is Eric Fisher (Kyle Gallner), a 17-year-old boy accused of murdering his mother Mary (Joanna Going) in 1983. In real life, the teen’s name was Bruce Lisker. Here’s what happened in his case.

Bruce lived with his parents Robert and Dorka Lisker in Sherman Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles. In March 1983, Bruce came home to find his mother badly beaten and stabbed twice in the back. He called 9-1-1 and, over the next several years, he was subsequently arrested, tried and convicted of her murder. He was sentenced to 16-years-to-life.

The police liked Lisker for the crime because he had been in and out of rehab for drugs and kept the company of other drug users and dealers. They maintained Lisker came to ask his mother for money and when she said no, he killed her. Interrogation definitely raises the idea that Bruce’s friend Mike Ryan — called Chris Keller (Kodi Smit-McPhee) on the show — was responsible (or at least involved) in the murder. Ryan killed himself in 1996.

While in prison, Lisker convinced a private investigator named Paul Engle to look into his case. Engle’s Interrogation counterpart is Charlie Shannon (Andre Royo). Working alongside Engle was Los Angeles Police Department Internal Affairs officer Jim Gavin, who knew something was not right with the case. He is called Ian Lynch on the show and is played by Vincent D’Onofrio.

48 Hours | Mystery (CBS) – 'The Whole Truth' from Bruce Lisker on Vimeo.

While the P.I. and IA officer worked to prove Lisker’s innocence, he served 26 years of that sentence before a 2009 ruling by a district court judge found that Lisker was convicted using false evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel.

Lisker was then freed and the Los Angeles County District Attorney was given the choice to retry him, which they chose not to do. Instead, they dropped all charges due to lack of evidence.

Lisker sued the City of Los Angeles, accusing police detectives of fabricating evidence and was awarded a $7.6 million settlement.

From what we’ve read about the Lisker case and from what was featured on an episode of 48 Hours Mysteries about the case, it looks as though Interrogation hewed extremely close to the facts.

The Interrogation Creators Wanted Viewers to Feel Like Cold-Case Detectives

We sat down with two of Interrogation’s executive producers at the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour where they told us that consultants showed them several cases and “this one caught [their] attention.”

“We took the case and started reading it chronologically and the detective said no, no, you can’t do that. This is how you do it — you start at a random point and then you pick your own path through the material,” explains EP Anders Weidemann.

“They throw out the previous narrative because it was wrong and they create their own,” added EP John Mankiewicz.

It was this idea that cold-case detectives don’t work in a linear fashion that really honed the idea of Interrogation, which is that viewers should watch the season premiere, titled “Eric Fisher,” and then they can watch the next eight episodes in any order, playing detective and trying to figure out what really happened before they watch the season finale, which will be identified as such.

As far as the real story goes, however, the Interrogation EPs cannot say with 100 percent certainty that anyone knows what happened that day except Eric Fisher — or Bruce Lisker.

“What happened for real and what does [Eric] know? That’s really hard for us to answer,” says Weidemann, adding that with the season finale, they are presenting “a very plausible theory of what happened” but “it’s still a theory.”

“There are things where if you dig deeper into the episode that don’t quite add up,” he continued, adding that they did not invent anything out of thin air for the show.

“As soon as you start to invent things that don’t even have a sparkle of truth, that wouldn’t work, says Weidemann. “So even the stuff that we had to fill in the holes, it’s derived from real authentic things that can be used. We used a lot of consultants to help us with that.”

Interrogation is streaming now on CBS All Access.

READ NEXT: Interrogation Time and TV Channel Information

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