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‘True Detective’ is returning: Here’s everything we know about season 3

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By Rick Marshall

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True Detective season 3 is finally on the horizon after much speculation about the hit series’ future. Created and written by Nic Pizzolatto, the anthology crime series premiered in 2014 with a season starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson that earned rave reviews from professional critics and general audiences alike, as well as a long list of awards for its cast and creative team.

More than three years have passed since the final episode of the show’s underwhelming second season, but now we have our first trailer for True Detective season 3.

With a new season of True Detective on the way and another impressive cast — led by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali — supporting it, here is everything we know about season 3 so far.

The first trailer

The first full-length trailer for season 3 of True Detective (see above) was released by HBO on November 2, and the two-minute preview provides the best indication so far of the story that will drive the third chapter of the gritty series.

Previously, HBO provided the first look at the third season in late August with a 60-second teaser (see below) that didn’t offer much in the way of plot details but it did showcase its Oscar-winning star as Wayne Hays, a state police detective haunted by a mystery that spans several periods of his life.

A trio of recurring roles

A May casting announcement revealed three actors with recurring roles in the upcoming season. One of them, This Is Us star Lonnie Chavis, will be involved in scenes from an earlier decade, Deadline reports. He’ll play a young version of the lead character’s son, Freddy Burns, who is played by Ray Fisher. His onscreen father is the lead character played by Ali.

Meanwhile, Jodi Balfour and josh Hopkins will each be involved in a separate time period. Balfour, who comes to the series having played Jacqueline Kennedy in The Crown season 2, plays Lori, the romantic interest of Detective Roland West (Stephen Dorff). Hopkins, on the other hand, plays an attorney who will depose state police detectives.

More casting additions

The cast of the upcoming installment in the anthology series continued to fill out in January, with Scoot McNairy announced as the latest actor to sign on. Deadline reported that he’ll play a father who experiences “a terrible loss” — one that somehow forms a 10-year link between him and two state police detectives.

Scoot McNairy in Godless Courtesy of Netflix

McNairy comes to True Detective after having appeared in various TV series and films over the years. Notably, he starred in the 2017 Netflix western Godless, in which he played a sheriff in an Old West town. His work in film includes high-profile projects like 12 Years a Slave, Gone Girl, Argo, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

A familiar face

Stephen Dorff was also added to the cast in January, according to Deadline. The actor has extensive credits from over the years, spanning both film and TV. He recently starred in the second season of Fox’s Star, as well as the 2017 films Leatherface, Wheeler, and Jackals. Some of his other notable work includes the 1998 vampire superhero flick Blade and the 2010 drama Somewhere.

Stephen Dorff in Leatherface Lionsgate

In True Detective, Dorff will play Arkansas State Investigator Roland West. So far, little is known about his role.

A leading lady

Actress Carmen Ejogo boarded the series in November 2017, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was most recently seen in the second season of the Starz anthology drama series The Girlfriend Experience, but has also starred in films such as 2014’s Selma and 2017’s Alien: Covenant.

Carmen Ejogo in Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience Starz

As True Detective‘s female lead, Ejogo will play schoolteacher Amelia Reardon. The character will apparently have ties to two children who disappeared in 1980.

Bringing an Oscar winner along

True Detective attracted some high-profile stars for each of its first two seasons, and the third installment of the series continues that trend.

Rumors began circulating in July 2017 that Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali was the leading contender to star in season 3 of True Detective, and the casting was confirmed later that month by HBO Programming President Casey Bloys.

Ali, who won a supporting actor Oscar for his performance in Moonlight and played featured roles in both Luke Cage and House of Cards on Netflix, will reportedly play a state police detective from Arkansas in the third season of True Detective. His character, Wayne Hays, will be the series’ lead.

Mixing it up behind the camera

Series creator Nic Pizzolatto will return to script all but one episode of the third season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The one episode he doesn’t write — likely the fourth episode of the season — will reportedly be penned by Deadwood creator David Milch.

There will also be a new face in the director’s chair for the third season of True Detective.

Green Room and Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier will co-direct the season with Pizzolatto. Although the latter has written or co-written every episode of the series so far, this will be his first directing credit for either movies or television.

Saulnier is also a relative newcomer in Hollywood, but both Blue Ruin and Green Room received high praise from critics and audiences, and share quite a bit in common tonally with the television series.

One constant for the series will be its executive producers, whio include Pizzolatto, Saulnier, season 1 stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, and first-season director Cary Joji Fukunaga (who won a Primetime Emmy Award for his work on the series).

A new setting, a new story

After the first season unfolded in Louisiana (pictured below) and the second season was set around California, the third season of True Detective shifts the setting for the series to the Ozarks region of the United States.


According to the official synopsis for the third season, the narrative arc will follow the story of “a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.”

The wide span of time that will encompass the season is reminiscent of the first season’s story arc, which begins in 1995 and continues to 2012, nearly two decades later.

Updated on November 2, 2018: Added the first full trailer for True Detective season 3.

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