Tim Stack
June 07, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

JULY 10, 10 P.M. / FX

To prepare for their new series about the investigation into a body found on the bridge linking El Paso, Tex., and Juárez, Mexico, Diane Kruger and executive producer Elwood Reid took a field trip. ”We walked the bridge into Juárez,” remembers Kruger, who plays a detective with Asperger’s. ”It was actually really nice. To be fair, we didn’t go to buy drugs or to pick up a hooker, and it was daylight.” Reid, who developed the series (adapted from a Scandinavian show) with former Homeland writer Meredith Stiehm, recalls it being a bit more stressful. ”When I crossed the border, I literally said, ‘Elwood, this is how you lose your job. I’m taking Helen of Troy across the f—ing bridge. I didn’t tell anyone I did. But we had great tacos.”

Naturally, The Bridge will tackle more complicated issues than Mexican cuisine: ”There hasn’t been a story about these two countries coming together, with immigration issues and cultural differences,” says Reid. In addition to tracking the murder, which requires Kruger’s Texas detective to team up with a Mexican counterpart (Demian Bichir), the drama will follow a boozy journalist (Matthew Lillard) who covers the story; a drifter (Thomas M. Wright) who transports girls from Juárez to Texas; and a socialite (Annabeth Gish) whose late husband had dealings in Mexico. ”It’s not going to be an after-school special,” warns Reid. ”We’re going to tell stories that will paint a gray picture of things, not black-and-white.”

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