Mahershala Ali had to convince the True Detective show-runner that the season would not only work with a black man in the lead role—but that it would would actually be improved by that casting https://t.co/SgQBCMfPGW— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) December 5, 2018
The lead role was written as white, with a black cop in a supporting role.
“I read the scripts. I was blown away. I got to read the first four, and I could have played that second lead, the supporting character. But in my mind I was like, ‘I’ve done this my entire career. I’ve never done that.’ And I’m 40 at that time. And if it don’t happen now, it really may not happen.”
Ali made the case to show-runner Nic Pizzolatto that the season would not only work with a black man in the lead role—but that it would would actually be improved by that casting.
Ali convinced show-runner Nic Pizzolatto to give him the role by texting him pictures of his grandfather, who was a state-police officer.
“I was like, ‘See, we existed in this space in the 60s, in the 70s, [as] state-police officers. This is in Arkansas,’ We don’t have to beat them over the head with the race element, but let’s write it. I’m encouraging him to think of it from the standpoint of how it’s experienced. Racism is not experienced as the n-word all the time. I want to play that part."
Pizzolatto thought about it a couple of days, got back to him, and he was like, "Yo, let’s do this. I’m down.”