McConaughey, Harrelson take on grisly murder in 'True Detective'

Wed Jan 8, 2014 8:07am EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson may be best known as fun-loving comedy actors, but the pair put aside the laughs and their friendship to portray detectives at odds with each other in a gruesome television series for HBO.

"True Detective," a new anthology premiering on Sunday, pairs Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson) to solve a strange and grisly murder case that takes them deep into Louisiana's dark, impoverished and drug-stricken underbelly.

The series spans 17 years, from the time the two detectives begin investigating what appears to be a sadistic killing in 1995 up to 2012 when the case is reopened and each detective, in very different places in their lives, is questioned by police.

"It's a whodunnit for the murder case, but what you're going to see throughout is who these two guys are, and when you see them in 2012, how the hell did they get there and what happened in the interim," McConaughey told Reuters.

McConaughey, 44, who has forged a career with comedic roles that capitalized on his Southern charm and good looks, said he found a "clear identity" with his character Rust, an introverted and obsessive investigator whom he called "an island of a man."

"He's not good with civilization in society. He doesn't know how to have an improvised moment. He's not wired like that. He's not trying to be antisocial. He's just a bit of an outlawed monk," McConaughey said.

Harrelson's Hart is more affable on the surface, but quickly the cracks begin to show in his seemingly stable personal life as he struggles to keep his marriage on track as the case takes both him and Rust into treacherous territory.

McConaughey and Harrelson, 52, who previously teamed up on 1999 comedy "EDtv" and 2008's indie comedy "Surfer, Dude," said they faced challenges in paring back their off-screen buddy chemistry to portray the tense and restrained relationship between Rust and Hart.   Continued...

Cast member Matthew McConaughey arrives for the premiere of the film adaptation of "The Wolf of Wall Street" in New York December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson