The real life faces behind Dirty John, Netflix's chilling new true crime series.

If you’re a true crime fan, chances are you’re currently obsessing over all things Dirty John.

Based on Gimlet’s extremely popular Los Angeles Times podcast of the same name, the new Netflix series follows the true story of Debra Newell and Dr John Meehan.

After meeting on an online dating site, Newport Beach-based businesswoman Debra soon moved in with John and less than two months later, they married in secret.

But unfortunately for the mother-of-four, John was not who he claimed to be.

Watch the trailer for Netflix’s Dirty John below. Post continues below after video…

Debra believed John was an anaesthetist, who had just returned from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders.

Instead, he turned out to be a compulsive liar, a manipulator and an incredibly well experienced con artist.

With thousands of people engrossed in the chilling drama, we decided to take a look at what some of the major characters in Dirty John look like in real life.

Here’s what we found.

Debra Newell (Connie Britton)

dirty john cast
Connie Britton and Debra Newell. Image: Getty.

Debra Newell is portrayed in the show by Friday Night Lights and Nashville star Connie Britton.

In the 80s, Debra founded a successful interior design business called Ambrosia Interior Design (called Madeira on the show), which employed up to 50 people in its heyday.

At age 59, Debra met John on an over 50s online dating site.

Including her brief marriage to John, the Newport Beach-based businesswoman has been married a total of five times.

Since her relationship with John, however, Debra hasn't gone on a single date.

Debra also has four kids, who she raised in California's Orange County.

John Meehan (Eric Bana)

dirty john cast
Eric Bana and John Meehan. Image: Netflix.

The real life Dirty John, John Meehan, is played by Australia's Eric Bana on the Netflix show.

Although John told Debra he was an anaesthetist, John's real life was actually very different.


For over a decade before he met Debra, John spent years conning and manipulating women.

He also struggled with drug addiction and was imprisoned a number of times.

Veronica Newell (Juno Temple)

dirty john cast
Juno Temple as Veronica Newell. Image: Netflix.

Actress Juno Temple plays Veronica on the show, who is based on Debra's daughter Jacquelyn.

Compared to her mother Debra and her sister Terra, Jacquelyn took a back seat when it came to the creation and development of the TV show.

She has also largely chosen to stay out of the media spotlight by choosing not to walk the red carpet at the show's premiere event.

Terra Newell (Julia Garner)

dirty john cast
Julia Garner and Terra Newell. Images: Netflix and Getty.

Terra, Debra's youngest daughter, is portrayed on the show by Julia Garner.

Right from the beginning, the then-25-year-old distrusted and clashed with her mother's new husband John.

For the new TV series, Terra worked closely with producers to get all of the details right.

Cash, Terra's adorable Australian Shepherd also played a major role in the series – particularly towards the end.

Here's what he looks like in real life:

Arlane Hart (Jean Smart)

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Jean Smart and Arlane Hart, Debra Newell and Terra Newell. Images: Netflix and Getty.

Jean Smart plays Debra Newell's loving mother Arlane.

More than 30 years before John entered her family's life, Arlane dealt with another huge family crisis when Debra's older sister Cindi was killed by her own husband Billy Vickers.

You can stream the entire first season of Dirty John on Netflix now.

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