True Detective Season 2: A-List Dream Castings

TV viewers were given a real treat earlier this year with another hit show on HBO – True Detective. Anyone questioning the acting genius of Matthew McConaughey or Woody Harrelson prior to this show learned a quick lesson. Both men proved they were A-list actors in 8-episodes on a series that never gave you a LOST question mark or a Breaking Bad morally ambiguous scenario. At its core, True Detective was a buddy cop series about two normal individuals with their own share of personal issues bound together by a unique evil.

As the finale drew nearer, fans waited anxiously for a twist ending that would leave them wide-eyed and open jawed. Nic Pizzolatto, the creator and writer, stayed “true” to his word that his show wouldn’t end the same way fans have been so used to with today’s entertainment. True Detective was a genuine show with a real crime, giving explanations for nearly everything. Whether you were a fan of Harrelson’s adulterous Marty Hart or McConaughey’s chain smoking Rustin Cohle, there’s no denying these two men made True Detective a hit.

With season two confirmed, Pizzolatto has gone on record stating rather than two leads such as season one, fans will have three characters to follow this time around. It’s believed neither McConaughey nor Harrelson will be returning as events transition from New Orleans, Louisiana to California. With casting announcements just around the corner, the question is how can HBO fill the substantial gaps created by the removal of these two men from the lead roles?

These are a few of our top picks to fill the gap left by McConaughey and Harrelson – Ladies included!

Charlize Theron


Starting right out of the gate with a possible female lead is Charlize Theron. Not only is Theron one of the most stunning actresses in Hollywood, she’s proven she can take on any kind of role. From comedy to science fiction to heavy dialogue driven performances, Theron has the range to take audiences to a similar dark place that was the playground in season one of True Detective.

With a strong tonal focus towards female centric themes, there’s a strong belief Nic Pizzolatto will take a similar path with the upcoming season. Theron has the ability to play the damsel in distress or a strong detective part. Seeing her partner up with another A-list male actor, or even a possible female, would be extremely exciting as they track down the mystery that is sure to play out through the season.

Previous Inspiration: Monster (2003)

Quite possibly Theron’s best performance to date, notching her an academy award to boot, Monster is the story about Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer prostitute. Although the portrayal might appear to fall in line with something similar to season one, it proves Theron could take a role to a deranged and dark place.

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman

Sticking with the theme of strong ladies making an impact on season two of True Detective is Australian splendor Nicole Kidman. Much like Theron, Kidman has had the honor of being a recipient of an academy award for best actress along with the dignity of being a noted Hollywood film producer. Known for a number of comedic roles and reticent male love interests, Kidman flourishes best opposite of a leading man. Kidman has the credentials to snag a part on True Detective, as she’s no stranger to small screen roles to compliant her big picture draw.

As Kidman has stacked up a significant sum of accolades in her many years in the business, a breakout performance on a show like True Detective would be a great step for someone as accomplished as her. It would be a pleasant surprise to see her try to balance the emotional dialogue Pizzolatto would be willing to throw her way. Whether she was to play an authority figure or a possible victim to a crime, Kidman has the cinematic fortitude to pull off either.

Previous Inspiration: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Stanley Kubrick’s last and most questionable film, Eyes Wide Shut, is a film that could be right out of a True Detective plot. Kidman plays Alice Harford, the wife of a man who finds himself in the middle of a strange sexual fantasy world. It’s a story about a dark, shadowy underworld in which no one appears to know exists – much the same as the world that is created in season one of True Detective. Whether Kidman would play a similar role to Alice or someone who is trying to unlock dark secrets, her ability to draw viewer curiosity is something she could pull off astonishingly.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis

With the ladies getting the attention on the first two entries, it’s time to jump over to the boys and give them some love. First up is Mr. Action Hero Charisma himself Bruce Willis. Most know Willis as NYPD detective John McClane from the classic action franchise Die Hard. Though the series has seen better days of late, it should be noted the original Die Hard saved Bruce Willis’ career. Sure it’s a bit of a stretch to take inspiration from Die Hard in making a pitch for Willis in a True Detective role, but it has to be noted he has the pull of a large audience.

The biggest difference between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in measuring them up against someone like Bruce Willis is that Willis has attained mega star status. While he’s most noted for his antics in big blockbuster action films, he’s also boasted a film catalog unlike many others in the business. With that being said, other than his short run on Moonlighting in the 1980s, Willis doesn’t have a whole lot of steady television roles. For a guy that’s done it all on the big screen, a lead placement on the HBO crime series could be icing on a career cake.

Previous Inspiration: The Sixth Sense (1999)

The movie that exemplified the surprise ending and launched a little known director to the moon, The Sixth Sense, is easily Bruce Willis’ best role. His portrayal of Dr. Malcolm Crowe leaves the audience yearning for a resolution to his story as much as the main plot. Even though Willis doesn’t play the role of an authority figure or police officer, his ability to carry and thrive in such a dim story is remarkable.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

Even though he’s no stranger to mammoth Hollywood success, one thing Johnny Depp doesn’t have under his belt is a run on a critical acclaimed television show – 21 Jump Street excluded. Depp has been on top of the world for over a decade now but it would appear his reign at the top has been in question with a few of his more recent outings. As a man that’s been untouchable for years, it might be time for Johnny Depp to re-tool himself and take a stab at a major premium television run.

If there’s a man in the business that can prove they have a dynamic range, it’s Johnny Depp. He’s made himself a household name with the Pirates franchise but it would be entertaining to see him pin on a badge and take his jumpiness to new limits. The transition to a more grounded and factual role might be difficult to stomach at first but it appears to have been far too long since seeing Depp in a dramatic saga.

Previous Inspiration: Public Enemies (2009)

Although Johnny Depp plays the antagonist John Dillinger in Public Enemies, it’s one of the more realistic and restored roles he’s played in an authentic world scenario. Spinning the Dillinger character into a role that fans could root for is something that could effortlessly be done. Viewers know if given the proper momentum, Depp could pull off one of the stronger roles of his career with his crafty appearance and impressive linguistic skills.

Mark Wahlberg

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Known for more of his pumped up and muscled out movies, Mark Wahlberg might not be a number one pick in considering a leading role in the second season of True Detective. While Wahlberg has played a number of different law enforcement and military parts in his career, he’s unquestionably known for his common man rising to the challenge roles. However, through much of his career, Wahlberg has been synonymous for never playing a bad role.

While fans have seen Wahlberg stretch his abilities, a role cast in True Detective could see both his physicality and acting ability put to the test. As a strong actor that knows where his talents are, it would be highly entertaining to see him tick his capabilities up an added degree alongside another A-list actor. Even though a possible female lead has been hinted at, Wahlberg would do best in a traditional buddy cop environment. And no, not like The Other Guys…

Previous Inspiration: The Departed (2006)

In what could be considered one of the best supporting cop roles ever, Mark Wahlberg plays the never forgetful Staff Sgt. Sean Dignam. The Departed is full of Hollywood gems but its Walhberg’s Dignam that is one of the most amazing characters in the film. Even though Dignam is a bit too one-dimensional for a series like True Detective, it would be exciting to see Wahlberg channel this character and flesh them out even further beyond just your typical bad ass cop.

Jennifer Garner

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

While much of her recent work has fallen within the realm of romantic comedies, a leading lady that could join the team in True Detective season two is Jennifer Garner. Many know her for her cute and spunky personality, along with now being Mrs. Batman, but Garner deserves considerable credit for some of the major roles that she’s been a part of. Whereas many of are few and far between, Garner has been involved a number of serious roles.

Even though Jennifer Garner has never been cast in a role as a police officer, she commands the type of talent that would be useful in such a character. She has the acting ability to play a strong leading lady as well as someone who could come across as vulnerable. Whereas audiences witnessed two emotionally strong male leads in the first season, it might be a breath of fresh air to have a principal lady who is more open about her emotions with realistic faults everyone can relate to.

Previous Inspiration: The Kingdom (2007)

When thinking of Jennifer Garner in an action heroine, it’s easy to flashback to her role as Elektra in the Marvel films. In 2007, she played FBI Special Agent Janet Mayes in Peter Berg’s The Kingdom. The film itself was far from a Hollywood blockbuster, only managing to barely bring back its budget, but it proved Garner could carry a suspenseful action film. Garner has the looks and acting variety to bring a similar character to True Detective and carry the show through a second season without batting an eye.

George Clooney


George Clooney first gained wide recognition with his role on ER back in the mid-1990s as Dr. Doug Ross. Since then, his Hollywood rise has been one many in the business wish they could imitate. Although considered a stain in the world of comic book movies, Clooney would establish himself further as an elite actor with his portrayal as the Dark Knight in Batman & Robin.

Clooney’s inclusion is not to talk about his past accolades but rather what an actor like him could bring to the table in season two. Clooney is known for his charismatic portrayals with a knack for the passionate dialogue and scene domination. He has proven in the past he can easily transition to more intense discourse possessed roles as well as having the ability to bring it when it comes to more melodramatic action sequences.

Previous Inspiration: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

It might seem a little cheap to jump back to this 1996 cult classic but it could easily be argued this was one of Clooney’s most enjoyable roles. Sure the movie is about an after dark bordello of vampires bordering on the ridiculous but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Even though Clooney played psychopathic killer Seth Grecko in the film, there’s no arguing he had some great lines in the film. Transition the psychopath to a traditional good cop, bar cop scenario and it could be magic.

Brad Pitt


Brad Pitt is unquestionably one of the top 5 actors in the business to date. Anything with his name and star power attached to it is usually Hollywood gold. With his breakout performance coming way back in 1999 with Fight Club, Pitt has been on top of the game ever since. His diversity and likeable qualities on-screen make him an easy selection for this list, as a premium channel run would be a nice fit to his impressive catalog.

What also makes Pitt an enjoyable selection is his ability to carry films by himself or with a supporting cast. It’s obvious True Detective is a two-person gig with chemistry being a key factor. However, what made the first season stand out were the scenes in which the audience witnessed personal inner conflicts involving both characters: Hart with his family and Cohle with his obsessive consuming nature.

Previous Inspiration: Seven (1995)

Although Fight Club is credited as Pitt’s big push performance, Seven was a film that came out a few years earlier. Seven could be described as a cinematic 2-hour version of True Detective as Brad Pitt’s character David Mills and his partner William Somerset, played by Morgan Freeman, track down a homicidal serial killer obsessed with the seven deadly sins. It would be amazing to see Pitt take up the mantle of a similar character nearly 20-years later and tell a similar story throughout the course of an 8-episode anthology series.

Julia Roberts


As we focus on our last leading lady, (sorry, spoiler alert), a woman who stands out amongst others is Julia Roberts. Although she’s more well-known for her romantic comedies than dark dramatic roles, Roberts could be a woman who has the ability to help the viewer witness events from a different perspective. Much like Michelle Monaghan from season one, Roberts could play the role of a third-party that is constantly weaving in and out of a main plot.

With the belief being season two will have three main characters, it has to be assumed at least one of those characters will be a top female. Whether all three will be cops or one a lead on a case, Roberts could slide into either role. Be it someone involved with the law or wronged in a terrible way, she would be a pleasant addition to the cast.

Previous Inspiration: Erin Brockovich (2000)

Without a doubt the film that has brought Julia Roberts the best success is Erin Brockovich. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the events follow a woman fighting against a corporate company that is hiding evidence in which people are getting sick from groundwater. From an acting perspective, Erin Brockovich shows Julia Roberts has the ability to step outside of many of the roles she’s most known for. Seeing her as a strong central woman who doesn’t just use her looks but her brain on True Detective could make for some quality story telling

Matt Damon

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

At this point, you the reader are probably thinking this is a list reimagining all of the actors from an Ocean’s film. But the last one to get thrown into the mix is Matt Damon, promise. Damon has made the strongest name for himself as Jason Bourne in the Bourne film series, establishing a household name for dramatic action. Although True Detective isn’t an action drama at it’s core, some of the best sequences from season one were when events tended to get frenzied.

Matt Damon is a perfect actor to play one of the leading roles in season two. He has the qualifications to prove he cannot only lead films with ruthless action but also with smooth dialogue. Damon’s filmography is grand in scale but his appearances on the small screen or premium television is non-existent. Like the case that has been made for actors earlier on this list, a solid run on a show like True Detective would bring in a whole new group of fans as well as add another accolade to an already dominant career.

Previous Inspiration: Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting not only did the job of establishing Matt Damon in the business, it also did the same for the next incarnation of Batman, Ben Affleck. Not only is Good Will Hunting an excellent example of two young actors writing and starring in a great film, it’s an example of some of Matt Damon’s best acting, all the way back from nearly the beginning. His portrayal and characteristics of no-nonsense, Boston born Will Hunting can even be seen in his work in The Departed. Seeing Damon use similar confidence and cockiness on True Detective could easily be the next level of great dialogue on par with what fans saw in season one.

Robert Downey Jr.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Thanks to the current success of the comic book movie genre, Robert Downey Jr. has had a resurgence. Although Downey Jr. has always been a gifted actor, Iron Man director Jon Favreau took a chance on him in 2008 for a hopeful summer blockbuster film. The rest is history as Downey Jr. has gone on to become the face of the Marvel franchise and Avengers films. There’s no denying Robert Downey Jr. has established himself as the big blockbuster action star.

It’s Robert Downey Jr. and his earlier work that deserve some of the recognition for being a candidate on season two of True Detective. The sensational wit and banter he exhibits in each and every one of his films could add an almost comedic charm to a show that is unquestionably dark and drab. The problem with this is it could fall outside of the lines of what True Detective is all about and alienate the fan base from season one. However if Downey Jr. tapped into the darker tones of the show, he would be a magnificent addition.

Previous Inspiration: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Is that Michelle Monaghan and Robert Downey Jr. smoking a cigarette in this scene? Perfect! Although Kiss Kiss Bang Bang falls into the realm of a crime comedy, far from what True Detective is all about, it’s loaded with mammoth amounts of tongue-in-cheek dialogue. If given a darker twist, it would be perfect for Downey Jr. It’s because of scenes like this that he is the master of discourse. Even though he has virtually redefined himself in the business and the types of genres he’s known for, Robert Downey Jr. would be a perfect choice as one half of the duo on the second season of True Detective.

Tom Cruise

Love him or hate him, Tom Cruise is an actor that doesn’t put out a bad product. He’s at the top of the game and has been for a long time. If audiences ever waver in regards to whether or not they should see one of his most recent films, chances are it’s worth the time. Cruise is the master of action, the chief of drama, and a dominant man of intensity. It might be a stretch to say he’s a tactful genius of dialogue, but his passion and power can easily make up for any of those shortcomings.

It’s impossible to start with what Tom Cruise could bring to the table on True Detective. The comparison could be made between him and Matthew McConaughey, as it was impossible to tell what to expect until the viewer was finished watching the first episode. From that point forward, it was easy to chomp at the bit in anticipation for the next episode. Cruise would bring that same sort of excitement fans experienced from the first season into the second.

Previous Inspiration: A Few Good Men (1992)

Not only one of Tom Cruise’s best scenes ever, but one of the best scenes in film. A Few Good Men is a courtroom drama revolving around the court-martial of United States marines. This would be the first film of many that would establish Cruise’s ability to dominate a scene not just with clear-cut dialogue but intense physical and emotional performing. True Detective was a show all about emotion in the midst of a horrific mystery. If season two is looking to take the show to the next level and give its fans something new, than an actor like Tom Cruise could be a perfect fit to help do that.

So what do you think – Any thoughts on any of these actors being a part of True Detective Season 2? Let us know your thoughts!

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Want to rewatch Woody Harilson and Mathew McConaughey hunt for the yellow king? Pick up the Blu-ray of Season One here.
or you can live stream it with an Amazon Prime free trial, right here

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