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Mahershala Ali on the connection he shares with his True Detective character

After the second season of HBO's True Detective failed to reach the glorious highs of the first, it's been a pleasure to hear that the upcoming third season seems to serve as a return to form. Starring Mahershala Ali (MOONLIGHT) as Detective Wayne Hays, the third outing will find the detective looking into a grisly crime involving two missing children in the heart of the Ozarks. Mahershala Ali recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about his role and revealed that True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto had originally offered him a supporting role rather than a starring one.

"I didn’t respond strongly to what I was offered," Ali said. "I was excited about what hadn’t been done." The role of Vietnam veteran and state detective Wayne Hays was originally envisioned as a white man, but Ali sent Nic Pizzolatto pictures of his grandfather, who just so happened to be a state police officer, to help convince Pizzolatto to cast him. "The pictures helped show him how personal it was to me," Ali explained. "It was more about pitching myself and presenting the idea of Wayne being a black cop and why it would work. [It was] a slightly tweaked vision inspired by what Nic already had on the page."

The third season will follow three intertwined timelines: "1980, during the crime’s immediate aftermath; 1990, when the case gets reopened; and 2015, when Wayne, now an old man with a fading memory, becomes haunted by his past." Stephen Dorff, who plays Hay's partner Roland West, added that playing a character in a multi-decade story was "scary" and that Mahershala and himself would always fight to stay in the '80s. "We had that vibe going. [We’d plead], ‘Let’s not jump to the ’90s yet!'" Dorff said.The eight-episode season will debut on HBO on January 13th, so be sure to check out a review from our own Alex Maidy!

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