True Detective season 2: everything we know and more

All the clues to True Detective season 2 are here. Nic Pizzolatto will keep it dark, but cast, crew and plot are all new...

True Detective is coming back for season 2 this summer. The series brought the satanic detective genre to television. The genre, best represented on the big screen in such films as Angel Heart, Fallen and The Ninth Gate (Johnny Depp is a book detective), is one of the most intelligent subgenres in horror. There’s something about the devil that just grabs your soul by the privates and scares you on an esoteric level. True Detective delivered and fans (and reviewers) got heavily into the background, poring over Lovecraft and looking for Carcosa.

Every episode of True Detective‘s first season was written by Nic Pizzolatto. He is still the sole writer in season 2, but Cary Fukunaga, who directed all episodes for the first season, is only back as an executive producer this time around. The cast, characters and locale will all be new, and there will be multiple directors.

Last year, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey scoured the dark heart of Louisiana looking for a ritualistic mass murderer with powers from beyond. The true detectives found the yellow king. The pockmarked lawnmower man Errol Childress was played by Glenn Fleshler (who also played George Remus on Boardwalk Empire). Fleshler was recently named in the cast of Hannibal.

This year, True Detective will star Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro; Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon; Rachel McAdams as Ani Bezzerides; Taylor Kitsch as Paul Woodrugh; Kelly Reilly as Jordan Semyon and Afemo Omilami as Police Chief Holloway.

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For ease of use, all the updates here are listed chronologically, so if you’re looking for new info, go to the section below it and work upwards.

True Detective debuted on HBO last year and became an immediate sensation. A cult hit with an occult foundation, the true detectives of True Detective explored the dark underbelly of their Louisiana Parish to uncover a conspiratorial murder spree that led all the way up to a powerful lawnmower man, living in a run-down shack. The detectives delved deep into devilry, both personal and spiritual, sparking heavy discussions, debate and the rediscovery of obscure literature. Interest in H.P. Lovecraft soared online.

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey starred as Rust Cohle and Martin Harte, former homicide detectives who were called in to tell a new team of cops about an old case that they thought was closed. McConaughey and Harrelson both won Emmy nominations for their work. They plumbed deep into the dank recesses of the psyche and came out with nihilistic validation. However, Cohle and Harte will not be on the new season.

Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote all the episodes last season, will be writing all the episodes this season. The first thing he spilled about season 2 was his synopsis: “hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.” The transportation system has an occult history? Oh fuck, Pizzolato is going to put the Mass in Mass Transit. He’s going to build a tunnel straight to hell, right?

Not quite. Oh, there will be devils. But let’s go with the ones we know…

True Detective season 2 cast

There are high expectations for the new cops and criminals. Woody and Matt set a high acting standard in a very good year. HBO gives actors a lot of room to explore generally and True Detective is a mansion. Let’s put on our gumshoes and backtrack…

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The first clue about casting that was leaked was when Pizzolatto told someone that True Detective’s second season will have a whole new cast. There would be three cops: Two men and one woman. They would be in different branches of state authority. That was the first direct evidence. The hearsay evidence began. We’ve left a few juicy rumors at the bottom of this piece, but keep in mind Nic Pizzolatto told everyone to start from scratch because “literally, not a single rumor about casting that has been printed anywhere has any truth to it whatsoever.”

On Sept. 21, Colin Farrell let it slip that he was cast as a lead. Two days later, HBO confirmed that Farrell is playing California Highway Patrol officer Ray Velcoro, whose official description reads: “a compromised detective whose allegiances are torn between his masters in a corrupt police department and the mobster who owns him.” Farrell’s character deals with “cocaine and anger management” and he was “suspended for sexually exploiting a young woman he pulled over.” I picture Harvey Keitel’s corrupt cop in Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant trading tickets for blow jobs.

Pizzolatto later amended his casting teasings to say that the idea of three central characters “ballooned a little bit. I would say there are four central roles.”

That’s because they need someone to chase after. On Sept. 23, HBO confirmed that Vince Vaughn is playing Frank Semyon, “a career criminal in danger of losing his empire when his move into legitimate enterprise is upended by the murder of a business partner.” A corrupt corporate type, he’s got politicians in his pockets and more than misdemeanors on his mind. Deadline reported that Pizzolatto wrote Vince Vaughn’s part with the actor in mind.

Other bits and pieces that have surfaced about Vaughn’s character describe him as “a former thug turned businessman” who is working with corrupt politicians to push through “a high-speed railway system” that would run along the coast of California bringing business in its wake.

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Rachel McAdams is confirmed for the main female lead, Sheriff Ani Bezzirades, “a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective whose uncompromising ethics put her at odds with others and the system she serves.”

On October 27, Taylor Kitsch confirmed that he is one of the leads in True Detective season two. Kitsch is already a member of the HBO family, having just played in The Normal Heart. Kitsch denied rumors that True Detective season two would be set in the 1970s, but admitted that the characters have “that old school vibe.” Kitsch is playing Paul Woodrugh, “a war veteran and motorcycle officer for the California Highway Patrol, running from a difficult past and the sudden glare of a scandal that never happened.”

On Oct. 30, Kelly Reilly, Abigail Spencer, Michael Irby, and Leven Rambin were reported to be joining the season 2 cast. Irby will play a character named Elvis Ilinca, the partner to Sheriff Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams’ character). Irby will be on the show for five or six episodes. Kelly Reilly is playing Jordan, Frank Semyon’s wife, “a former D-list actress who is a full partner in his enterprises and ambitions.”

On Nov. 17, Indie Revolver broke the news that that Lolita Davidovich, from the movie Blaze, will be playing the former object of affection Nancy Simpson an ex-showgirl and mom to Taylor Kitsch’s character. James Frain (The Tudors, True Blood) will play a bad lieutenant named Jeff Hunt.

On Nov. 19, Deadline reported that Adria Arjona, Michael Hyatt, and Yara Martinez will join True Detective in recurring roles in season 2. Michael Hyatt is best known from for playing as Brianna Barksdale on The Wire and as Connie Reubens, the SWAT team commander on Spike TV’s The Kill Point. Hyatt will play Katherine Davis, an ambitious state attorney who knows how to keep things quiet.

On November 26th, Deadline broke the news that Castle‘s Jon Lindstrom has joined the cast, as well. Lindstrom will play Glenn Ellinger, “a patrician businessman who wears his immense power lightly, but wields it definitively.”

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Yara Martinez, who played Dr. Luisa Alver on Jane the Virgin and Adriana de Portago on Alpha House, was cast as a Mexican-American immigrant innkeeper named Andrea. Adria Arjona will play Emily, the girlfriend of Taylor Kitsch’s character. Arjona recently joined the cast of the TNT drugs-in-Miami series Narcos, produced by Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer.

On Dec. 5, Deadline reported that Afemo Omilami and Chris Kerson were added to the cast. Omilami will have a regular gig as Police Chief Holloway. Kerson will have a recurring role as a nail gun shooting survivor named, appropriately enough, Nails. The tough-as-nails-guy will be a loyal member of Frank Semyon’s gang, I mean business. Kerson has been seen on 30 Rock and Pacific Blue, while Omilami will next be seen in Terminator: Genisys.

On Dec. 4, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that C.S. Lee will play ambitious state attorney general Richard Geldoss. Lee played Makusa on Dexter.

On Dec. 11, HBO announced that Rick Springfield, the actor-musician and coveter of Jessie’s girl, was added in a role they’d rather not talk about. Deadline also reported that Ashley Hinshaw will play a troubled starlet on of the new season.

The recurring cast this year will be Michael Irby as Elvis; Leven Rambin as Sophia; Abigail Spencer as Alicia; Lolita Davidovich as Nancy Simpson; James Frain as Jeff Hunt; Riley Smith as Steve Mercier; Adria Arjona as Emily; Michael Hyatt as Katherine Davis; Yara Martinez as Andrea; Christian Campbell as Richard Brune; Jon Lindstrom as Glenn Ellinger; Emily Rios as Gabby Behenna; Ronnie Gene Blevins; Timothy V. Murphy as Osip Agranov; C.S. Lee as Richard Geldof; Chris Kerson as Nails; Rick Springfield and Ashley Hinshaw will play as-yet-unnamed characters.

True Detective season 2 director

Cary Fukunaga directed all the episodes in the first season, but season two will be shot by a multiple directors. HBO’s head of programming, Mike Lombardo, said three or four directors will go on board next season, but no names were dropped. HBO has a roster of experienced directors who are probably drooling for a chance. Fukunaga directed Sin Nombre and the 2011 film Jane Eyre.

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On Sept. 4, it was announced that Justin Lin, who directed the Fast And Furious movies, would direct the first two episodes of the eight-episode season.

True Detective season 2 story details

The investigators will be trying to solve the death of Ben Caspar, a 52-year-old man who was killed and dumped on a highway with occult symbols scratched on his chest. A leaked breakdown said:

“The second season of True Detective will follow the death of Ben Caspar, the corrupt city manager of a fictional California city who’s found brutally murdered amid a potentially groundbreaking transportation deal that would forever change freeway gridlock in the state. Three law enforcement officers from different cities and branches of the government are tasked with finding out who did it. They soon discover their investigation has much broader and darker implications than they initially thought. Caspar’s 52-year-old corpse is found on a lonely stretch of Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur—satanic symbols etched on his chest. It turns out he had a penchant for rough sex and may have been involved in the occult.”

Just like in the premiere season, the three cops will have their own issues. The Wrap reported that Farrell’s character “has been damaged by years of turmoil,” the Monterey sheriff (McAdams) dives into “gambling and alcohol” when she’s not on duty, and the California Highway Patrol officer (Kitsch) was “put on leave” after he pulled over a lady for drunk driving and let her off after she got him off, though The Wrap pulled that detail.

True Detective’s second season will be set in California. In a podcast with the NPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge, Pizzolatto said “Not Los Angeles but some of the much lesser-known venues of California, and we’re going to try to capture a certain psychosphere ambiance of the place, much like we did in Season one.”

Nic Pizzolatto made reference to the “psychosphere ambience” of California. He specifically said it’s not Los Angeles, though Hollywood had its own theosophical renaissance in the 1920s. If he wants ambiance, Pizzolatto might want to look at the city of Chico, California. The city was designed on a model of occult or Masonic city planning as a kind of tribute to the Sumerian goddess Ishtar. Aerial views will be astonishing and the local architecture is pretty spooky too.

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The second season will not be as dark as the first, according to HBO programming director Michael Lombardo. Variety reported that Lombardo told an audience at the Edinburgh TV Festival, “It’s still dark. Nic explores the darkness in people’s souls. … It’s not as dark, but it’s not a light ride. Nic likes looking into the crevices of the soul.”

Pizzolatto did promise to keep it strange in season 2, but not quite as much. Shortly after the first season closed he said “I’m interested in the atmosphere of cosmic horror, but that’s about all I have to say about weird fiction. I did feel the perception was tilted more towards weird fiction than perhaps it should have been.”

During a stop on the Television Critics Association press tour, Lombardo inferred that less dark doesn’t mean less action, saying “The two scripts we have … I hate to jinx it … they are more exciting than the first season.”

Possible True Detective season 2 story inspirations

Pizzolato and Lombardo have so far teased that season 2 will be about some kind of shenanigans in the transport system, that the crime takes place on a west coast highway, and that the victim will have satanic symbols scratched on his chest. Not just occult symbols but specifically satanic ones.

Because of the big business aspect of the upcoming season, I think we’ll see references to the classic crime film, Chinatown. Corporate conspiracy is at the heart of Roman Polanski’s classic noir masterpiece. The series might feature a crooked corporate cabal. We can trust Pizzolatto not to go in easy territory like the Illuminati when a local Rotary Club can house as much felonious finance as any Freemason lodge. Vaughn could also play someone who came up through the rougher side of the Teamsters, delegates who never drove or loaded trucks, but did other heavy lifting.

There are all sorts of corrupt business practices in the transport system, from the executive class to the cops who pad their quotas with speed trap tickets. Pizzolatto might use someone like Daniel Keith Ludwig as source material. Danny was a shipping magnate and billionaire. While he was alive, he was the richest private citizen on earth. While no crimes have been specifically attributed to Ludwig, he became invisible to the press in the 1950s. In 1982 he was #1 on the first Forbes “400 Richest Americans” list. Ludwig reportedly had close ties to the owlish Bohemian Grove crowd, the reputed playground of perverted plutocrats.

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The victim will be into rough sex. Season one had all kinds of sex. Angry sex in the bathroom. Revenge sex on the kitchenette. Handcuff sex. Incestuous hand jobs. BDSM caters to all kinds of ritualistic fetishes beyond the ones let in the doorways in True Detective‘s first season. The scratchings could come from a heavy S&M session or next season could take some trips to a West Coast version of The Hellfire Club, the 18th Century British bacchanal for the socially blessed.

When it was revealed that victim Ben Caspar’s body would show up on a highway, most online enthusiasts immediately set their GPSs for Southern California’s Route 66, which has more than its share of urban legends. Interstate 35 has rural truths. There is actually a cult that worships it as the “Highway of Holiness.” The evangelical members occasionally going out on purity purges, trashing abortion clinics and porn shops.

But that whole stretch of road isn’t so holy. In 1981, a young boy named Adam Walsh was kidnapped. The child’s severed head was found on Interstate 35 in Texas. Otis Toole confessed (and later recanted) that he had committed the murder for a cannibalistic satanic cult called The Hand of Death. Toole’s accomplice was the serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas “claimed that he was trained by a nationwide satanic cult in a mobile paramilitary training camp in the Florida Everglades,” according to David McGowan’s Programmed to Kill.

In February 1975, California’s Department of Justice issued a confidential report about 14 unsolved murders that began in 1972 and were committed by a single man. Six victims were found in Santa Rosa; five in San Francisco; and one each in Redding, Marysville, and Monterey, which is where Rachel McAdams is sherriff. Too good a local history to pass up.

The highway murder has to point to a corrupt scheme that put a high speed rail that links North and South California. There’s money to be made through “land ownership and lucrative federal grants.” I can see Pizzolatto pouring over old train manuals, finding the symbolic significance of the third rail. The rich and powerful meeting in forested getaways, sacrificing their stoolies, and dumping them on the highway. All in pursuit of mini-malls and Wal-Mart franchises.

Last season, Cohle and Harte found a spiritually evolved madman living on the fringe of society, this season the true detectives will hit the center of society.

True Detective season 2 rumours

Back in March, there were reports that Brad Pitt was in the cast, but that seems to have had no substance. There were also rumors that month that Christian Bale was tapped but chose not to sign up for a role.

In May, Deadline reported that HBO’s “unofficial breakdowns” were looking for characters modeled on Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Christian Bale, and Jessica Chastain from Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain denied it almost immediately. Almost. She milked it just long enough for dramatic effect. There were also rumors that Michael Fassbender and Cate Blanchett were cast, but that was wishful thinking from fans at Reddit. Good try, though.

There had been other reports that Michelle Forbes of The Killing is being lined up for a “key role” and that Garrett Hedlund from Friday Night Lights will have a major role, but these haven’t amounted to anything either.

Production on True Detective season 2 begins soon and the show should arrive by summer.