How to Get Cast on HBO’s ‘True Detective’

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Photo Source: Michele K. Short/HBO

Nic Pizzolatto’s “True Detective” broke the mold when it debuted on HBO in 2014, ushering in a new era of prestige TV. The anthology crime drama has featured a new star-studded cast each season, fronted by the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Mahershala Ali.

Now, after a five-year hiatus, the series is returning with a new season, “True Detective: Night Country,” on Jan. 14. The fourth installment stars Academy Award winner Jodie Foster and boxer-turned-actor Kali Reis. This season, Issa López (“Tigers Are Not Afraid”) will take the reins from Pizzolatto, showrunning as well as writing and directing all six episodes.

Do you have what it takes to piece together the puzzle alongside Hollywood’s biggest names? In this guide, we’ll unravel the mystery of how to get cast on future seasons of the hit series, including advice from those involved in Season 4.

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What is “True Detective: Night Country” about?

Set in Ennis, Alaska, the season kicks off with the inexplicable disappearance of eight men from a remote research station. Small-town detectives Liz Danvers (Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Reis) are tasked with solving the mystery. Despite the tense relationship between the two, they must confront their inner demons to chip away at the lies and uncover the truth that’s left Ennis frozen in fear.

Who is in the cast of “True Detective: Night Country”?

This season features:

  • Jodie Foster as Detective Liz Danvers
  • Kali Reis as Detective Evangeline Navarro
  • John Hawkes as Hank Prior
  • Christopher Eccleston as Ted Corsaro
  • Fiona Shaw as Rose Aguineau
  • Ann Dowd as Betty Childress
  • Kathryn Wilder as Blair Frechette
  • Finn Bennett as Peter Prior
  • Anna Lambe as Kayla Malee
  • Aka Niviâna as Julia
  • Isabella LaBlanc as Leah
  • Joel Montgrand as Eddie Qavvik

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Who are the casting directors of “True Detective: Night Country”?

Emmy winner Francine Maisler (“Dune,” “Succession”) and Jessica Ronane (“Nevermoor,” “Emma.”) cast this iteration of “True Detective.” (Previous CDs include the likes of Alexa L. Fogel, Junie Lowry-Johnson, and Victoria Thomas.)

Maisler—whom the Hollywood Reporter named its inaugural Casting Director of the Year in 2021—told the outlet that her “great love of cinema and theater” drives her passion for casting. “Our job is to…not do what’s obvious; our job is to search far and wide. And sometimes it’s stars fitting into the perfect vehicle, and sometimes it’s people who haven’t had the opportunity or platform to show their best.

“Everywhere I go, I’m always looking at things visually and seeing what I find interesting,” she added. “Having the same taste as the director—instincts about [drama] and comedy—is so important. I’m there to help the director put his vision together, suggesting things he might not think of and knowing the talent pool out there. I think it’s also best when it’s something you do that you have a passion for, and it’s not just a job. I…normally watch four movies on the weekend; that’s not work for me.”

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How does the casting process work for “True Detective: Night Country”?

Maisler told the Hollywood Reporter that CDs “start with a blank slate. Once in a while—sometimes—stars come attached, but the casting director is the first person the director hires after he gets the script. And though it seems like it’s easy to just think of this person or that person, there’s an intense work period that goes into it between the director and casting director. With all of my directors, I think they hire me so that we can have conversations about things we agree and disagree on, and so that they have as much information as they can when they make the final decision.”

“I really work from my gut,” the CD said in an interview with IndieWire. “I don’t pontificate. I’m not into the layers of this and that.” She added that she goes about building an ensemble “piece by piece.” “What I never want to have is people blending; I want distinctive faces and people and energies. So what you don’t want to have is blending. In war movies, you know how sometimes people can blend, and you’re not sure who is who? In any ensemble, you don’t want that to happen.”

Jodie Foster

Where can you find “True Detective” casting calls?

Since a fifth season has yet to be announced, there are no current auditions for the series. However, “True Detective” has cast with Backstage in the past: In 2018, the show’s team was looking for general background actors as well as performers to play Vietnam soldiers and civilians. In the meantime, keep an eye on our HBO casting page for the latest opportunities.

Showrunner/Writer/Director/ EP Issa López on the set of True Detective: Night Country

Showrunner/Writer/Director/ EP Issa López on the set of “True Detective: Night Country” Credit: Lilja Jons/HBO

What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “True Detective: Night Country”?

Know yourself. Considering she’s been in the industry for more than 50 years, Foster has a keen instinct about what resonates in the audition room. “I think that one of the best things you can do is to become a whole person and to work on yourself as a human being, because you have to bring something to the table,” she told us

“People say, ‘How do you prepare for creating a character and making a movie?’ Well, I prepare by loving them and by understanding them and being curious about them—and [comparing what] the character is [going through] to things that I’m working on in my own life and that I’m trying to figure out, because it is an adventure. It’s a journey, and you don’t really know where it’s headed.” 

Educate yourself, and make strong choices. “When you get an audition, look at who’s directing it and who’s written it, and look at their work,” Maisler told us. “There’s a tone that every director has. There’s so much information to be gotten from doing that research.”

Once you have that knowledge in your arsenal, take a bold approach. “Try to make some strong choices,” the CD suggested. “I feel bad for actors if they’re self-taping and not getting any direction, because they don’t know what to do. But sometimes people go just in the middle, and the middle never works. Just try to, with what you know, make a choice.”

Become aware of your internal state. “Sometimes [it] takes a lot of years to understand that everything you need is inside of you already,” Foster said. “And if you can find a way to relax and let that truth come through, [then] you don’t need to work quite so hard. And sometimes if you do work hard, extraneous things get in your way.

“I always say—with directors especially, but also with actors—[that] what you bring to the table is what you bring to the psychiatrist’s couch,” she added. “So your problems as an actor or your problems as a director are the same problems you have with your wife and the same problems you have with your children. Become a more aware person and a more conscious person, and you’ll be a better actor.”