The Real-Life Terra Newell Was Instrumental in Pulling off the Dirty John Finale

The Real-Life Terra Newell Was Instrumental in Pulling off the Dirty John Finale

Terra's account of the harrowing attack was vital in bringing the terrifying moment to life on-screen. 

By Sarah Hanlon

Bravo's limited series Dirty John came to a shocking climax in the finale episode this week as Debra Newell and her family found themselves face-to-face with John Meehan one last time. In an unexpected twist, viewers saw John attack Debra's daughter, Terra Newell, in her apartment complex parking lot in broad daylight. In a contrast to her usual quiet demeanor, Terra fought off John's attempt to stab her by grabbing his knife and using it on him, instead. And according to Dirty John's producers, the real-life Terra Newell was vital in bringing her harrowing attack to life on the small screen. 

"The most important thing in the fight was seeing it through Terra's eyes," Executive Producer Jeffrey Reiner shared in Dirty John After the Episode. "So, I actually met with Terra for an hour and recorded her telling me what she smelled, what she saw, what she felt, what her heart was feeling like, what her body was feeling like, and she was unbelievably giving in the moment. She gave us a lot of imagery, so when you look at the sequence it's really kind of told from her point of view."

Jeffrey also revealed that Julia Garner, who portrays Terra, had a pivotal role in recreating this scene as well. "Julia Garner really dug in, and you had to give her her space because she really takes on the character. And I could tell that it was difficult for her. It was painful for her." 

Eric Bana, who plays John Meehan, added that his character finally met his match in Debra's daughter. "It's really interesting to contemplate what his end game actually was, and I'm not completely convinced as to what that was other than I think it came more from an obsession with chaos and distraction and damage which ultimately was his downfall," he said in Dirty John After the Episode. "He finally met his match." 

Debra Newell and her daughters might have had an idea as to what John's plan may have been, though. "I did ask Debra, and I asked Terra and Chris Goffard what they felt; they felt that he was probably going to kidnap Terra and then use that to bring Debra to wherever Terra was and he was probably going to kill both of them," said Executive Producer Richard Suckle. Luckily for the Newells, their fight with John ended thanks to Terra's bravery and tenacity to fight back. 

Be sure to watch the cast explain the rest of the shocking finale in Dirty John After the Episode above, and watch what happens when Terra comes face-to-face with John's sister in the Dirty John episode clip below. 

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Terra Newell Comes Face to Face With John Meehan's Sister
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