Who'll Join Mahershala Ali on True Detective Season Three?

We Talked About Who Else We'd Like to See Join the Cast

Photo: Netflix
Last week, Variety confirmed that Academy Award-winning actor and recent GQ cover star Mahershala Ali is in talks to star in the not-yet-greenlit third season of True Detective.

After collectively freaking out about this prospect for a few days, we calmed down long enough to think up who we’d cast as Ali’s dream co-star(s), were this project to come to fruition.

Here’s what we came up with.

Thompson Brandes: It's tough to assemble a dream True Detective cast without first knowing where the new season will take place. Adam Arkapaw's sweeping wide shots and brilliant cinematography from season 1 helped build a sense that each character's personal development was always deeply rooted in the setting's own composition. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were perfect for snuffing out grand occult conspiracy in Southern Louisiana. But Mahershala Ali and Emma Stone exposing underground child trafficking in Tijuana seems a little more goofy, you know what I mean?

So let's go with a core-four whose talent is pretty limitless as far as geographical boundaries are concerned:

Mahershala Ali - No brainer.

David Harbour - Just take all self-destructive yet beautiful things he did in Stranger Things and multiply them by 100 for a season of True Detective.

Kerry Washington - There is no role this woman cannot take on.

Oscar Isaac - Anyone else down to watch a heavily bearded Oscar Isaac rip a bunch of booze and coke and do some really super dark, bad stuff while also remaining devastatingly charming? Oh, everyone is? Perfect.

Hadley Tomicki: Mary-Louise Parker as the 2nd detective, because she's magic and can do anything. Also, I would like to watch her kill more pretend people on TV.

Sam Eichner: I agree with Thompson that it's hard to fake-cast this thing without knowing where the new season will occur. No show has relied so heavily on an unimpeachable sense of place as much as True Detective, which I am well-aware is sort of a ridiculous opinion to have. If it were up to me, Pizzolatto would take season 3 back to where it worked best: somewhere rural, somewhere weird, somewhere really fucking hot. Louisiana's been done already, so my vote is backcountry Florida. I'm thinking the world of Lee Daniels's The Paperboy, with more grit, less pulp and the same amount of sexed up Nicole Kidman, set in post-recession 2008 instead of 1969. Kidman right now is at the peak of her powers—I'd love to see what she could do with a vixen-y character who has a broken moral compass.

Let's also find Jeff Bridges a part here. He's ready for TV. And if Hell or High Water is any indication, he'd be the perfect old-wily-cop to Ali's young up-and-comer. 

Alternative take: Ethan Hawke. He's got the right look for this, and would be a natural with Pizzolatto's more poetic lines. 

Very alternative take: At first I thought "Oh, Jessica Chastain would be great for this." Then I thought: "You know who's a better Jessica Chastain? Julia Roberts." Then I thought: "Where the hell has Julia Roberts been lately?" After which I came to the conclusion: Julia Roberts needs to do TV. The time is now. The time is this: Julia Roberts, True Detective villainess. 

Geoff Rynex: I don't even know where to start with you Sam. Really? You thought Jessica Chastain, a woman just weeks ago you Chastised as the most overrated actress of our generation, would be great for this? Of course she would. She'd be great in anything, and reportedly turned down the Rachel McAdams role in the last season (points for good judgment). You and Thompson are both right about the context making it tough to cast, but here are some people that I think would make anything work:

Dominic West—I haven't watched The Affair. I'm sure it's good. But can we pin a police badge on this man again please? 

Melissa Leo—I feel like they'd have great chemistry as broken obsessives. 

Justin Theroux—The Leftovers – science fiction elements = a great fucking season of True Detective

Carrie Coon—See Theroux. Only argument against her is that she'd threaten to steal the show from Mahershala. 

Najib Benouar: Two words: The. ROMANAISSANCE. Okay, a few more words: Ray is re-peaking right now. Most people might look to his scene-stealing role in of-the-moment rom-com darling The Big Sick as a sure sign of this pendulum swing, but I'd say it started back during his stint on Scorsese's short-lived passion project VINYL a little over a year ago. He crushed it. He showed some real acting- and mutton- chops. And he didn't once bemoan at the top of his voice "Maaaa." I just hope HBO realized that VINYL's only redeeming quality was Romano. Mark my words, HBO, everyone is going to love Raymond again, and you will too. 


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