05.28.144:45 AM ET

Investigating ‘True Detective’ Season 2: Everything We Know (So Far) About the HBO Potboiler

From rumored casting offers (Jessica Chastain? Christian Bale?) to the setting and subject matter, here’s all the news that’s fit to print about the hotly anticipated cult drama.

Time is a flat circle. Green-eared spaghetti monster. The Yellow King. Carcosa. McConaughey.

It’s been two-and-a-half months since True Detective, the bayou whodunit featuring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as a pair of grizzled cops struggling to solve a series of ritualistic murders over a 17-year span, cast a spell over the TV-watching public. Over eight thrilling hour-long episodes the HBO series, featuring elliptical dialogue by creator Nic Pizzolatto and directed with lyrical precision by Cary Fukunaga, snowballed into a cultural phenomenon—one that proved so damn popular its finale crashed the network’s streaming service, HBO Go.

But we knew from the get-go that the show was a serialized drama, reloading with an all-new cast and plot each season. And the saga of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart had, sadly, come to a close.

Since the show left the airwaves—and cable subscribers flocked to the wild world of Westeros—there’s been wild speculation concerning Season 2. Who will star as the fearless, feuding detectives? Where (and when) will the story be set? And who will be the monster at the end of it?

Thankfully, Al Gore created the Internet to solve all these problems. Here’s everything we know, or think we know, about True Detective Season 2.


Lacey Terrell/HBO

So far, we know that creator Nic Pizzolatto will pen all eight episodes of the second season, and whereas Cary Fukunaga directed all eight episodes of Season 1, he’ll only be back in an executive producer capacity in Season 2, he told The Daily Beast. Fukunaga also said that each episode of Season 2 would have a different director at the helm, although who those directors will be is anyone’s guess.


Stationed in a covert base overseas, Jessica Chastain (center) plays a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives (Christopher Stanley, LEFT and Alex Corbet Burcher, RIGHT) who secretly devoted themselves to finding Osama Bin Laden in Columbia Pictures' electrifying new thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY.
Jessica Chastain (center) in Columbia Pictures' ZERO DARK THIRTY. (Jonathan Olley / Sony Pictures)

Casting rumors have come fast and furious. The first shots were fired a couple of weeks after Season 1 came to a close, with pals Ellen Page (Juno) and Kate Mara (House of Cards) joking around on Twitter that they’d love to star together in Season 2 of True Detective. When the #truedetectiveseason2 went viral, with various Twitterbugs sharing pictures of their ideal cast, Mara shared a photo of her and Page together and HBO favorited the tweet, which got them very excited:

There was also a fun rumor that the two Mara sisters—Rooney and Kate—would make for a fun pair of cops, although that was (probably) wishful thinking on the part of the blogosphere.

And then came the rumor of Jessica Chastain. In mid-May, Nerdist reported that Oscar nominated actress Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) had been offered the lead role in the series’ second season. But the news was quickly squashed by Chastain’s reps, who said she wouldn’t be starring in the series, and HBO, who denied every dangling it in front of her. My sources, however, can confirm that the role WAS floated to Chastain, who subsequently shot it down.

Around the time of Chastain, there were also rumors that Brad Pitt was being eyed for Season 2. It made sense on paper. The series is shot on location in Louisiana, and the Jolie-Pitt clan has a sprawling estate in New Orleans. But alas, my sources confirmed that while the idea was entertained, it was never seriously considered. Totally bogus.

Yesterday, Deadline reported “unofficial breakdowns floated around have listed the three leads as a fortysomething male detective/cop with Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale and Josh Brolin as prototypes” and that “the rumor mill in the past few weeks focused on Bale, Phoenix and Brolin as well as The Normal Heart star Taylor Kitsch for the other male lead and Chastain.”

As far as the cast goes, creator Nic Pizzolatto confirmed the following to the NPR podcast To The Best Of Our Knowledge: “The characters are all new, but I’m deeply in love with each of them… We’ve got the entire series broken out with a couple of scripts, and we’ll probably start casting in earnest in the coming months.” In earnest.


SCENE 1.5 - 1.8  / Exterior Sugarcane Field - Crime Scene (1995) - Cohle sketches his observations with Marty watching.  / Photo: Jim Bridges/HBO

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 
Director: Cary Fukunaga

Matthew McConaughey: Rustin Cohle
Woody Harrelson:  Martin Hart
Jim Bridges/HBO

In the same interview with NPR’s To The Best Of Our Knowledge, Pizzolatto said, “Right now, we’re working with three leads.” My sources, however, informed me that there would only be two leads, and that the network was eyeing “two very big male actors” for the parts, adding, “You’d be surprised how big these guys are.” We shall see.


: Woody Harrelson Photo: Jim Bridges/HBO

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 
Director: Cary Fukunaga

Matthew McConaughey: Rustin Cohle
Woody Harrelson:  Martin Hart
Ritchie Montgomery: Henry Oliver,SCENE 1.4 / Exterior Sugarcane Field - Crime Scene (1995) - Marty and Cohle arrive at the body. / Photo: Jim Bridges/HBO

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 
Director: Cary Fukunaga

Matthew McConaughey: Rustin Cohle
Woody Harrelson:  Martin Hart
Woody Harrelson (Jim Bridges/HBO)

Back in March, in a post-finale interview with Hitfix, Pizzolatto said that Season 2 would be about “hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.” He added on the To The Best Of Our Knowledge podcast that the second season “takes place in California. Not Los Angeles, but some of the lesser known venues of California and we’re going to try to capture a certain psychosphere ambience of the place, much like we did with season one.” He also told Hitfix, “I realize I need to keep being strange. Don't play the next one straight.”


Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star in HBO's show "True Detective." (Lacey Terrell/HBO)

Following True Detective’s Season1 finale, Entertainment Weekly caught up with Pizzolatto to discuss the future of the series, as well as that of Rust and Marty. When asked whether he retained literary rights to the duo, Pizzolatto replied: “I do. So maybe you will see Cohle and Hart novels down the road after Hollywood kicks me out. Always a possibility.”

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