Wicked City: A Killer Roster of Criminals, Cops and Crime Journalists

Aubry D'Arminio
Ed Westwick in Wicked City

Fall TV PreviewBad things have gone down in and around Los Angeles, like the Black Dahlia murder, the Manson killings and the Hillside strangulations. Now, in the anthology series Wicked City (each season will follow a different fictional case in the City of Angels), it’s the Grainger-Beaumontaine serial slashings of Sunset Strip partygoers throughout the early 1980s. Series creator Steven Baigelman introduces us to his nutty perps, the cops on their tail and the journalists following the story.

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WICKED CITY - Welcome to Los Angeles, circa 1982, during the rock 'n' roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip. But all is not glitter as there's a serial killer on the loose, and two detectives find themselves on one of the toughest cases of their careers. "Wicked City" follows a unique case set in this noteworthy era of L.A. history, with the detectives determined to track down and bring the killer to justice before another murder can occur. (ABC/Eric McCandless) ED WESTWICK, ERIKA CHRISTENSEN

Ed Westwick as Kent Grainger, Erika Christensen as Betty Beaumontaine

The Killer

Kent Grainger (Ed Westwick)

Grainger (left) makes his living restoring old cars and gets his kicks from stabbing women inside them. He’s charming, smart and a whiz at luring in the desperate Hollywood locals. “Kent is a chameleon who can pose as all those guys who claim they’ll make a young lady’s dreams come true, whether it be in film or music, etc.,” Baigelman says. “The next day, he’ll part his hair to the other side and pretend to be a different man. When the Sunset Strip raged, a monster could easily hide in plain sight.”

The Accomplice

Betty Beaumontaine (Erika Christensen)

The nurse and single mother (right) isn’t in touch with her bloodlusty side until meeting Grainger. “Betty is a healer and a caretaker, but there’s another person deep inside,” Baigelman says. “Like-minded attracts like-minded, even if one of them isn’t aware yet they’re of that ilk.”


WICKED CITY - "Pilot" (ABC/Eric McCandless) SARA MORNELL, JEREMY SISTO, GABRIEL LUNA

Jeremy Sisto as Jack Roth, Gabriel Luna as Paco Contreras

The Veteran Detective

Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto)

This hardworking family man (above kneeling) with a devoted wife and daughter plays a great good cop but a better bad cop, growing obsessed with cases to the point of self-destruction. He’s also shacking up with a fellow officer (see No. 5). “Jack loves his family very much,” Baigelman points out. “But he is broken inside, and what fixes him is going into the darkness and catching bad guys.”

The Rookie Transfer

Paco Contreras (Gabriel Luna)

Vietnam vet Contreras (above standing) has ambition—and it doesn’t go over well with his new partner. “That quality really rubs Jack the wrong way,” Baigelman says. “You’ve got one guy who will do anything to get ahead and one guy who just wants to get the job done. What they both are is good cops who want to catch this killer.”

WICKED CITY - Welcome to Los Angeles, circa 1982, during the rock 'n' roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip. But all is not glitter as there's a serial killer on the loose, and two detectives find themselves on one of the toughest cases of their careers. "Wicked City" follows a unique case set in this noteworthy era of L.A. history, with the detectives determined to track down and bring the killer to justice before another murder can occur. (ABC/Eric McCandless) KAROLINA WYDRA

Karolina Wydra as Dianne Kubek

The Undercover Cop

Dianne Kubek (Karolina Wydra)

Jack’s lover is forced to work with him when evidence in his investigation dovetails with her current case. “They are like two soldiers in the foxhole who understand each other in ways no one else can,” Baigelman explains. “They have an ‘I can’t quit you’ type of relationship.”


WICKED CITY - Welcome to Los Angeles, circa 1982, during the rock 'n' roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip. But all is not glitter as there's a serial killer on the loose, and two detectives find themselves on one of the toughest cases of their careers. "Wicked City" follows a unique case set in this noteworthy era of L.A. history, with the detectives determined to track down and bring the killer to justice before another murder can occur. (ABC/Eric McCandless) TAISSA FARMIGA

Tessa Farmiga as Karen McClaren

The Wide-Eyed Reporter

Karen McClaren (Taissa Farmiga)

Recent college grad Karen wants to write for Rolling Stone but ends up working the crime beat for an alternative rag, which leads her to the case. “Karen keeps the voices of the victims alive,” Baigelman says. “She makes sure they’re not just throwaways, because they represent what can happen to you in a place where a lot of people are willing to die for their dreams.”

WICKED CITY - "Pilot" (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Evan Ross as Diver Hawkes

The Paparazzo

Diver Hawkes (Evan Ross)

The young photographer (above left) can handle the truth. A colleague of Karen’s, he’ll point his lens at the darkest, dirtiest underbellies of the city to get a meaningful shot. “Diver looks straight into the abyss, while other people try not to,” Baigelman points out. “He’s the guy who is going to force you to acknowledge the worst.”