Making the Case: Who Should Be the Leads in True Detective Season 2?

Following a stellar season from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, we take a stab at who should replace them for True Detective season 2…

There’s probably not a journalist or columnist alive right now that watched True Detective season one that isn’t at some point going to theorize about who should play the combo for the second season next year. Now a couple of things to remember — first off creator Nic Pizzolatto has given a few hints (hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system). Those hints alone could mean we’re going to receive a pair of female detectives this time around, or maybe we should remember the show is called True Detective and there’s only going to be one person on the case.

Theories about the pairing of two more Hollywood A-listers is still the main guessing game and because Pizzolatto hasn’t even finished the scripts for the second season, nor has it been approved by HBO, we’ve got plenty of time to play out different theories about who will star in the next edition of the show. If we follow by the original formula set up by masterful performances from Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, then we will get two detectives both working on the same case or some variation of the same case.

Making the Case: Edward Norton and Tom Hardy by Damon Martin

For my selection to serve as True Detective’s season two pairing I’m going with — Edward Norton and Tom Hardy.

Edward Norton seems like a no brainer given his recent absence from high profile roles, and it would seem he’s ready for a ‘McConaissance’ of his own. A few years back, Norton was one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood with stirring performances in American History X, Primal Fear, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Fight Club. I also loved him in the highly underrated Spike Lee film ’25th Hour’ where he was great as a criminal spending his last night as a free man before going to jail on a seven year sentence.

But since 2008, Norton has largely been a ghost in most major features outside of Moonrise Kingdom, which he was nominated for several awards as part of an ensemble cast. Since 2012, Norton has only done a handful of Simpsons episodes and Saturday Night Live, although comedy, in my opinion, has never been his strong suit.

To team up with Norton would be British bad boy Tom Hardy, who is no stranger to TV roles so he could fill Harrelson’s shoes just fine. Hardy is good looking, brutish and imposing and can pull off any number of roles like few actors that I’ve seen going today. He’s got the strong, silent type down with his parts in films like ‘Warrior’ and it’s well known he can do physically imposing like he did as Bane in the 2012 movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. He’s also shown great range in movies like Inception and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, so Hardy’s got the chops to stand next to a real force of nature like Norton and not get swept away by the wind.

Norton has such a quiet air about him when he softly approaches a role, and when you put him next to a powerhouse like Hardy, it could be ‘Fight Club’ dynamics all over again. Sure, Brad Pitt gets a lot of accolades for his part in that movie, but the real weight was carried by Norton for the biggest chunk of the time. The same could happen here although Hardy is more than capable of carrying himself on screen opposite anyone.

If you’re looking for bad men that are also the long arm of the law, Norton and Hardy will get the job done.

Making the Case: Christian Bale and Mickey Rourke by Michael Stets

While following the performances of Woody Harrelson and Mathew McConaughey from the first season of HBO’s True Detective will certainly be no small task, the hamster wheel is spinning with thoughts of what duo of actors will be signed on as the new partners to flesh out the next installment of what will surely be another terrific script penned by writer/creator Nic Pizzolatto.

The two actors I think would make for a formidable law enforcement team are Christian Bale and Mickey Rourke. Both have shown incredible depth and range, and have played a wide range of characters in their respective careers, with Rourke having the longer resume. Bale can play a character like Trevor Reznik in The Machinist—where he lost over 80 pounds for his part as a man struggling with insomnia and a horrible accident he was responsible for, a serial killer the likes of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, or Bruce Wayne in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.

With over 70 credits in film and a career still going strong after almost four decades, Rourke can pour on the charm and charisma like he did as Charlie in The Pope of Greenwich Village, hustling his way in New York City, break your heart as the down on his luck pro wrestler in The Wrestler, or kill it in a small role like the high-profile sleazy lawyer Bruiser Stone in The Rainmaker.

Seeing these two as detectives once a week for eight episodes on HBO would be the equivalent to stealing the same amount in movie tickets. Bale owns an a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Dicky Eklund in The Fighter, and Rourke was nominated for Best Actor for his role as Randy “Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler. Like Harrelson and McConaughey before them, neither actor has stared on a cable TV series. Having both of them showcase their craft on the small screen like they have on the big screen would be a true victory for True Detective.


So there you have it — opposing views and very different directions for which way True Detective season two could go. Are we right on the money with our ideas or is there a combination that we’ve missed that could be even better?

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2 Responses

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  1. abramvaldezCS
    Mar 24, 2014 - 10:53 AM

    Those are pretty good mashups of different dynamics. I’m down for anything with Tom Hardy. The guy is nails. How about going a step further with a female detective? Pair up Holly Hunter with Benicio del Toro, Michael Shannon, or Mark Ruffalo, and baby, you got a stew going. Maybe Toni Collete. Or, in the vein of American Horror Story and its anthology quirk, bring back Michelle Monaghan and give her some of the long Pizzolatto soliloquies with one of the above actors to bounce off of.

  2. Comeback
    Jan 05, 2015 - 03:48 PM

    CB and MR