Praise and pity for True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto.
The first season of his mega-award-winning HBO drama was widely (and justifiably) trumpeted as unlike anything else in TV history, luring Matthew McConaughey back to the small screen and blowing viewers’ and critics’ minds with a spine-tingling mystery that turned water-cooler talk into an impromptu psychology class.
So how would the guy handle Season 2? The short answer: Move the series to California and assemble an even larger A-list cast into an intricate tale of cops, career criminals and politics that, like Season 1, unravels from a single, strange murder.
Though HBO is ferociously guarding details of the complex plot, here’s what we know thus far. Movie stars Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell headline, the former as Frank Semyon, a criminal turned entrepreneur with a complicated home life and a high-speed rail project on the line, and the latter as dicey detective Ray Velcoro juggling the expectations of his equally corrupt bosses and the mobster who has him in his pocket. Rom-com darling Rachel McAdams ends a 10-year absence from television, playing Ani Bezzerides, a morally upright Ventura County detective.
Friday Night Lights star Taylor Kitsch rounds out the core cast as Paul Woodrugh, a war veteran and motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol who discovers the crime scene that launches an investigation involving billions of dollars and multiple law enforcement agencies and criminal entities.
Kitsch says that, having learned he was up for a lead role in Season 2, he largely put his career on hold to wait for the go-ahead. His patience paid off handsomely, and, he adds, beyond the scope of the series.
“From the first meeting on, it’s been nothing but an incredibly gratifying experience — from collaborating [with Nic] and truly digging into who Woodrugh is, to working with the cast and crew, all the way to my final take on this show,” says Kitsch, last seen on HBO in the Emmy-winning The Normal Heart. “I’ve never walked away from something as excited and proud as I am of this. From start to finish, the material and the precedent Nic set has made my process even more thorough and — I have no doubt — made me a stronger actor.”
Kitsch adds that having eight episodes to do a film-quality project with Vaughn, Farrell and McAdams was a master class, as well.
“It’s cliché, but I really couldn’t see anyone else playing these characters now,” he says. “They were just truly grounded from the start, and to be able to go collaborate and bounce [ideas] off of them was a great experience. Every day was different and challenging and I wouldn’t want to have taken this journey without them.”
And even though he holds the answers to some of summer television’s more guarded secrets, Kitsch says that most True Detective fans he encounters — even among his own friends and family — don’t press him for details.
“It’s funny — I’ve literally had the opposite,” he muses. “They hold this show in such high regard that I’d say 90 percent of ’em tell me to ‘not say a thing about ANYTHING!’ They want to go along for the ride!”
True Detective Season 2 airs Sundays at 9/8CT beginning June 21 on HBO.