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‘True Detective’ Cast and EP Break Down ‘Heartbreaking’ Season 3 and Season 1 Comparisons (Exclusive)

Will True Detective season 3 bring back the charm and mojo that season 1 pulled off? It sure sounds like it. The debut season, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, broke barriers and each episode was more impressive than the last. Season 2 didn’t have the success of the first and many thought it fell short.

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However, the stars of the new season, which focuses on two detectives investigating a missing child case in 1980s Arkansas, are confident that it will, once again, prevail.

“The scripts were just so good, and I felt like, ‘God, [creator] Nic [Pizzolatto] had spent so much time writing these,” Stephen Dorff, who portrays Arkansas investigator Roland West in the series, told Us Weekly exclusively at the premiere event in L.A. on Thursday, January 10. “There was so much good energy going into this thing that we just wanted it to be as good if not better.”

'True Detective' Cast Talk 2019 Relevance Living Up to Season 1
Stephen Dorff and Mahershala Ali in season 3 of ‘True Detective’ on HBO. Warrick Page/HBO

Carmen Ejogo, who portrays school teacher Amelia Reardon in the series, also didn’t feel the pressure to measure up to the original.

“A lot of people had a lot of opinions about season 2, so I think we’ve only had good will on season 3,” Ejogo, 45, told Us. “Nic has very smartly written something that is both very original and brand new, but that also has similarities and in some ways is a little reminiscent of the best of season 1.”

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Executive producer Daniel Sackheim agreed that there were similarities to the two seasons – but also a huge difference. “The progenitor of season 3 is certainly season 1, both structurally, and I think, also emotionally. Also, in terms of the journey of these two cops. In that respect, it’s very similar to season 1,” the former House producer said. “I think it’s successful, and yet at the same time, the dynamic of the characters is really different – though it gets to the same place.”

He continued: “I will say this, too. I think what makes this show so unique is the way that it builds to the climax. I will tell you this, without giving anything away, that finale is really heartbreaking. At the same time, it soars with hope. You feel awful and inspired at the same time. How often can you say that about a finale of a series?”

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Mahershala Ali, who plays detective Wayne Hays, also praised the many tones of the season.

“We get to get into some family dynamics that I don’t know if we’ve ever seen in two black characters … working so diligently and in such a persistent way to solve a crime,” the Oscar winner, 44, told Us. “I think that we’re in a time where people are responding to almost anything and everything that is fresh, and that resonates because of its message. And, I think that there are several things about this show, about what we attempted to do in terms of capturing the eras like that. In television, people don’t age in television like this, so, the several things that Nic planted in the story, I think all contribute to it being something that is timely.”

True Detective season 3 premieres on HBO Sunday, January 13, at 9 p.m. ET.

With reporting by Carita Rizzo

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