“I burst into tears,” reveals Carmen Ejogo about her reaction to the highly anticipated finale of the recently concluded third season of HBO’s acclaimed anthology crime drama “True Detective.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Ejogo above.
“The fact that the show becomes this beautiful meditation on love and time and the cyclical nature of what time is, and is deeply poetic and is very hopeful in the end,” Ejogo says, “was a wonderful payoff. It’s pretty genius how [it] takes you down a certain path and it becomes something so much more glorious and promising and optimistic in many ways. I was just blown away,” she admits when looking back at the season and how it ultimately left audiences on a relative high.
The show’s third season is set over three intertwining time periods, as Detectives Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff) investigate the disappearance of two children in the Ozarks in 1980, during a re-opened investigation in 1990 and years later in 2015. Ejogo plays school teacher turned author Amelia Reardon, who meets Hays early on during the investigation and eventually marries him. The show typically twists and turns over eight episodes, and becomes about much more than the mystery itself, as we watch these characters evolve over the decades, weathered by time and by the devastating impact that the investigation has had on each of them.
Ejogo was initially hesitant to take on a role that at first seems like another supporting wife and sidekick to the main attraction; the two detectives partnered to solve a crime and particularly Ali’s Detective Hays. However, the actress soon realized that show creator Nick Pizzolatto intended her character to be central to the show’s plot and narrative, with nuances and flaws that we don’t expect when we first meet her early on in the first episode. “I like messy women. That’s what I am, that’s what I play, and that’s what I think excites me on the page,” Ejogo declares. “Nick assured me that this role was going to be so dynamic and pivotal and really fundamental. Not just in terms of plot but also the bigger themes that he was challenging the audience with this season.”
“She’s one of the most delightfully complex and compelling characters I’ve played in a while,” the actress says. “She kind of creeps up on you. She’s this wonderfully slow burning character that over three decades you watch her self-actualize and blossom.” And much of the appeal of this character for audiences is due to her not being just a foil for Wayne. She’s ultimately a “true detective” herself. “She finds things that the two men don’t find. She pieces things together that they don’t manage to do,” she explains. “That was the part that was most terrifying. Figuring out how to play both a detective that went into an authentic detective mode in a show that had already established what that was meant to look like, but in a way that is appropriate to Amelia, who isn’t really a detective; but also play the authentic wife character, the authentic mother, and the artist.”
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