Culprits star Kevin Vidal on the power of queer Black love in Disney+ crime series

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (L) and Kevin Vidal (R) play lovers in Disney+ series Culprits.

On appearance, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett‘s family man Joe is living the suburban American dream in Disney+ crime drama Culprits. He’s madly in love with his partner and fiancé Jules (played by Kevin Vidal) and is co-raising step-children Frankie (Maria Nash) and Bud (Baeyen Hoffman).

But when a mystery assassin begins killing off members of Joe’s old criminal gang, the life in London he tried so desperately to leave behind finally catches up with him and threatens to destroy everything he’s built.

Now leading a double life, Joe must find a way to protect his family against a backdrop of death threats, violent crime and a conspiracy bigger than he can comprehend – all while Jules grows increasingly suspicious that all is not as idyllic it seems.

Co-starring Suzy Eddie Izzard and Gemma Arterton, Culprits arrives on Disney+ in the UK and Hulu in the US today (9 November), offering a refreshingly inclusive spin on the crime thriller genre. As we share an exclusive new clip from the series, Canadian actor Kevin Vidal tells to PinkNews about the power of queer representation and why getting play a domestic love interest like Jules is something he never believed would be on the cards for him as a Black male actor.

“Jules has been the closest to [me] I’ve played on stage or on camera,” says Vidal, who is bisexual. “This is the first time I’ve gotten to portray my sexuality [and] I feel honoured to be able to hold this character so close to me.”

Filming for the eight-episode series kicked off with two-and-a-half weeks of intensive shooting of scenes between Joe and the family, giving Stewart-Jarrett and Vidal plenty of time to build their chemistry as a happily engaged couple haunted by buried secrets and tragic pasts.

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“Nathan and I first got together a few days before shooting,” Vidal recalls, “and he’s just such a genuine human being. He lets you know what he’s feeling, he’s very present with you in scenes, and also quite collaborative which was great. 

“The amount of love and care for each other that we had as a character family, for most of us this was the first time going at something like this. So, we were all just trying to take care of each other in that sense.”

Stewart-Jarrett echoed this sentiment in a press statement, saying: “What was great was there was time to talk to Kevin, find out about each other, which is really important in building a textured relationship.

“We took over this house in the Toronto suburbs. I showered there, had naps in the bedroom, brushed my teeth, we literally moved into that house. That was really useful to anchor me and us with each other in that story.”

Joe and Jules in Culprits. (Disney+)
Kevin Vidal (R) and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (L) in Culprits (Disney+)

For Vidal, Joe and Jules’ sexuality and relationship not being “the driving conversation of the show” was a refreshing take on a queer Black relationship in mainstream media.

“It’s just there. I love the normalisation of it,” he says. “There’s still so much divisiveness with queer representation. Of course, there are gonna be people who will not watch it or will be upset about it because of [the relationship] and not give the show a chance.”

But that leaves Vidal unfazed: instead he focuses on how far TV has come over the past decade.

“I get to play the part that would traditionally be the white woman in the house,” he jokes. “I never thought in my life that I would get to play that type of character.

“If it was 10 years ago, I would have to put on a Black southern accent and play a stereotype. This is the furthest away from a stereotype I can get.

“[Hopefully], we can get more people of colour and queer people just to play humans on screen.”

Culprits is streaming on Disney+ in the UK now and on Hulu in the US on 8 December.