With season two of HBO’s detective drama approaching, the Screen Robot writers say who they want in the leads.
As we get closer to production of True Detective’s second season, details have emerged to give us a clearer image of what to expect from round two. Yesterday came the news that the series will be centred around three detectives – that’s two male, one female – all arriving from different districts of California to investigate an occultish murder. While casting rumours fly (Colin Farrell, Jessica Chastain and Vince Vaughn are among those that have been linked so far), there’s still no confirmation as to who will be playing who. Seeing as the involvement of A-listers Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson blew open the casting doors in the last series, we’ve assumed no actor is unattainable and drawn up dream casts of our own, for a series that sees its lead performances as paramount.
Liam Dunn – Michael Keaton, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy
Gyllenhaal’s performance in The Honourable Woman has proved she has the gravitas to carry her own series, and McNairy is an actor of astonishing talent just waiting for that one big role to catapult him into the stratosphere. However, it is Keaton who is the secret weapon. Not only does he have a 40-year acting career under his belt, but with his upcoming star turn in Birdman, his late career ‘Keatonaissance’ is all but assured.
Ciaran West – Mel Gibson, Wes Bentley, Jodie Foster
Wes (creepy neighbour, American Beauty. Yeah, that guy. He’s intense) is on his way to coming back from nowhere (Hunger Games, Interstellar); Mel needs it, and I loved his Get The Gringo film; and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better female cop performance than Jodie’s in Silence of the Lambs. If anyone deserves a career-saving gig right now, it’s the booze-eschewing, religiously tolerant, third wave feminist, Mel. (I considered Danny Glover, but his agent informs me he’s currently “too old for this shit.”) Foster’s the ultimate strong female lead, she chooses her roles incredibly wisely, and (most importantly of all) she’s literally the last person left in Hollywood who still talks to Mel Gibson. And, for ratings value, who isn’t going to watch a dark as fuck HBO show with Mel Gibson in it? Fried gold.
Taylor Burns – Ethan Hawke, Brad Pitt, Amy Adams
Putting aside my dream of a Bunk and McNulty Wire prequel – focusing on the years before The Wire’s first season – for True Detective’s second season, I’d have to go with a lead-male pairing of Ethan Hawke and Brad Pitt. Hawke is the most intelligent actor around and Pitt is the most interesting ‘star’. Both have form in playing cops (Se7en, Training Day) and both can play a combination of smart and tough while still lending a certain vulnerability to things. As for the female lead, look no further than Amy Adams, who can be as acerbic and cutting as she can sassy and sultry.
Brogan Morris – Guy Pearce, Sam Riley, Andrea Riseborough
It’s probably somewhat sacrilegious to suggest an entirely non-American cast for this most American of detective shows, but fuck it, they’re not considering Colin Farrell for his mastery of accents. Pearce is one of the most diverse actors around, literally changing his acting style from project to project: he was brattishly old-school in LA Confidential, subtly commanding in Animal Kingdom, and gloriously OTT in Lawless – all are examples of how Pearce transforms, all prove how comfortable the actor is playing a fuzz. Backing him up, I want Riley, partly because he has that suitably deep well of darkness in him, and partly because he’s just been cast in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and he deserves so much better, and Riseborough’s in simply because she’s one of the best actresses around. Sparks would fly.
Zachary Boren – Michael Shannon, John Hawkes, Amy Adams
I know that True Detective’s standalone season structure and superstar pedigree opens the door for big time film actors looking for a McConaissance of their own, but my preferred male leads for the second season of HBO’s hit are instead charismatic character actors. Michael Shannon, the most fantastically intense actor out there, is at his best expressing the darkness of real America (see: Take Shelter). I also choose John Hawkes of Deadwood and Martha Marcy May Marlene. He’s not a bona fide movie star like Harrelson or McConaughey, but he’s edgy, sympathetic and an excellent deliverer of fine dialogue. As for the lady-lead, I opt for Amy Adams, one of the most acclaimed actresses around. She can do both scary cold (see: The Master) and warm intelligence (see: Her).
Alamin Yohannes – Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Margot Robbie
For the two male leads I choose Idris Elba and Michael Fassbender. Both of these stars bring not only their big names, but also immense talent. Elba, being a Wire alum, really belongs back on HBO, and honestly he has been doing great work recently both on television and in film; he is an actor that embodies characters in a way few actors are capable of, recent evidence being his turn as Nelson Mandela. Similarly, Fassbender has been doing very well on the big screen, in the same way McConaughey was when True Detective came along. Fassbender tears through the material whether he plays a serious character (12 Years a Slave, Shame) or an eccentric one (Frank) in a very honest and powerful way. Lastly, Margot Robbie was just so good in The Wolf of Wall Street that she drew the attention from everyone else whenever she was on screen.
Ben Thornton-Harwood – Edward Norton, John Turturro, Noomi Rapace
Back in 1998 he got an Academy nod for his portrayal of monster racist Derek Vinyard, and he was great as the tortured insomniac narrator of Fight Club – Edward Norton is long overdue a role to really sink his teeth into. If anyone can come close to McConaughey’s intense and gloomy detective, it’s Ed. Opposite Norton, just imagine John Turturro, halfway between Lebowski’s Jesus and Detective Alonzo Harris. We know he can play the fool well, but put some of those low-level autistic traits into a cop down on his luck, and watch Turturro grow to Heisenberg levels of badassery. To add a feminine touch, look no further than Noomi Rapace. She’s handsome, which isn’t a word often used to describe women, but you know she can play tough, and as such, she’s got no qualms with punching Norton in the throat for shagging the lead suspect’s wife.
Featured image: Sony Pictures Classics/ BBC/ 20th Century Fox/Warner Bros
Inset images: Columbia/Warner Bros/Universal; Warner Bros/Destination Films/Universal; Overture Films/The Weinstein Company/The Weinstein Company; Madman Entertainment/StudioCanal/Momentum; Sony Pictures Classics/Warner Bros/Overture Films; BBC/Momentum/Paramount; Entertainment Film Distributors/Millennium Entertainment/Zodiak Entertainment