There is a reason everyone you know is talking about "True Detective": it's that fucking good. With two episodes to go on HBO's breakout hit, and frontrunner for TV show of the year (and hell, the damn-thing-you'll-watch-in-any-medium of the year), the focus is turning to toward writer Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga, who collaborated to put forth a singular, riveting vision for their Southern philosophical mystery. Far from an ordinary procedural, certainly not a noir, and fairly uncategorizable—that's what makes the show so special.
With two hours to go before we find out the secrets behind the haunted murders that populate "True Detective," The Daily Beast caught up with Cary Fukunaga for what turns out to be an awesomely no-holds-barred interview about the genesis of the show, Paul W.S. Anderson's "Pompeii" and so much more. We're gonna run through the highlight reel of the stuff you need to know, but to get things started here are two things you might be astonished to learn: first, he confirms that Matthew McConaughey was originally offered the role of Martin Hart before choosing Rust Chole. And oh yeah, Fukunaga initially wasn't even on aboard the project...
A different director was attached to "True Detective" (and let's hope they bring him back for season two)
Nic Pizzolatto and I are at the same management company, Anonymous Content, so my manager sent me the project and said it was timely, and me and Nic met and talked about the movies we liked and things we have in common. It happened very quickly. I had gotten it, and then Alejandro González Iñárritu was on it for a very short time, and then he slipped out and it came right back to me.
Fukunaga was impressed by Matthew McConaughey's performance in "Unsolved Mysteries"
I like untraditional casting—casting against type—and he’s really great. It’s a character on paper that, once brought to flesh, could go a lot of different directions. He’ll always come off as intelligent, but will the character be likable? Will it be someone you want to watch? And McConaughey’s inherently watchable in anything. He has that movie star charisma that you just can’t turn off. Have you seen McConaughey in "Unsolved Mysteries"? Even back then, it’s a great performance! And he’s mowing the lawn. [Laughs]
The much talked-about 6-minute single shot from episode 4 (watch it here), had 13 takes, but only 5 were usable
It was really exhausting—to Matthew, the operators, everyone. On one of the last takes when we threw the brick through the glass window, a piece of glass hit Matthew in the eye, so we just said, “Let’s just stop now and hopefully one of these other takes will work.” We did 13 takes, and of the 13, eight were aborted because you just have to stop it if something doesn’t work. The first three takes I stopped quickly, and the fourth take went, and everyone was so happy—just cheering by the monitors. But I still thought we didn’t get it yet. In my mind, we never got the perfect one.
Fukunaga really hates Paul W.S. Anderson's "Pompeii"
I watched an awful movie last night, by the way that I had to turn off. I watched "Pompeii." I’d been working on a "Pompeii" project at Universal for a long time—around the time I was working on the musical for Focus—so I went down to Napoli, researched at Herculaneum and Pompeii. It took me two weeks. In two weeks, I got enough information to tear apart that movie frame-by-frame. Did they ever watch a YouTube video of what a volcano actually looks like? Or a pyroclastic cloud?
Fukunaga has been quietly working with Ed Norton on a movie project.
Ed Norton is probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. We’re working on a project together. We’ve been working on this adaptation of Mark Helprin’s "A Soldier of the Great War" for almost five years. I want to do it as soon as possible. [Book synopsis below]
Alessandro Giuliani, the young son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, enjoys an idyllic life full of privilege: he races horses across the country to the sea, he climbs mountains in the Alps, and, while a student of painting at the ancient university in Bologna, he falls in love. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, tall and proud, meets an illiterate young factory worker on the road. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers away, the old man—a soldier and a hero who became a prisoner and then a deserter, wandering in the hell that claimed Europe—tells him how he tragically lost one family and gained another. The boy, envying the richness and drama of Alessandro's experiences, realizes that this magnificent tale is not merely a story: it's a recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.