The premiere of the second installment of the anthology series True Detective is coming this weekend, and with it, a whole new crop of deeply intriguing, delectably sexy (even when they’re drunk, dirty, and down) characters. Here, instead of spoiling your journey into these characters’ psyches, we take you on a trip to the past, showcasing eight cinematic gems from this season’s True Detective cast.
Film: In Bruges (2008, 84%), was the first of screenwriter/director Martin McDonagh‘s one-two punch of clever crime tales with sympathetic and sociopathic characters. The Oscar-nominated story follows two hitmen who’ve been ordered to kill a priest, but kill a little boy in the process as well. They’re banished to Bruges, a gorgeous city in Belgium, where sad hilarity ensues with a cast of characters including Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleeson.
Role: Because of its slow-building cult success (despite the box office gross of less than half of the $15 million it was made for), In Bruges might seem like an obvious choice for Colin Farrell. It’s where many people finally decided that the Hollywood party boy from Ireland had some acting chops as hitman Ray. Indeed, he won a Golden Globe for it.
Film: Into the Wild (2007, 83%), is the harrowing, exciting, crazy true story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) who foregoes his college education, athletic promises of grandeur, and all his worldly possessions in order to find his true self, live a true life, and feel truth in all its many forms. Based on the book by Jon Krakauer, a writer and mountaineer, the film — adapted for the screen and directed by Sean Penn — was only a mild box office success.
Role: Wayne Westerberg is one of the many characters McCandless meets during his nation-wide journey — a grain elevator operator who befriends McCandless at a bar in the fall of 1990 in Montana. He first offers the wandering young ma a ride, then a place to stay, and eventually a job at his plant in Carthage, South Dakota. The two become close friends and Westerberg is actually the one to receive McCandless’s postcard in Denali National Park in Alaska.
Film: State of Play (2009, 84%)is a political thriller à la All the President’s Men, but sexier. Russell Crowe plays Cal McAffrey, a reporter who goes deeper than he bargained for into an investigation against a Congressman (Ben Affleck) whose former aid — and the woman he was having an affair with — turns up dead. There’s a huge supporting cast including Robin Wright, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, and Jeff Daniels, all directed by Kevin Macdonald, who had done mostly documentaries before the award-winning The Last King of Scotland.
Role: Della Frye is the gutsy, go-getter blogger for The Washington Globe, who plays like a sidekick to Cal. For the role, McAdams got to really immerse herself in life on the Hill, spending time with reporters at The Washington Post to prepare for turning the tables onscreen and getting her chance to probe for once.
Film: The Normal Heart (2014, 94%) was first written as a play by Larry Kramer, who saw the rise of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s claim the lives of dozens of friends and even more peers. HBO had him adapt it into a screenplay for their Ryan Murphy-directed version, which follows Ned Weeks (a fictional version of Kramer and played by Mark Ruffalo) and his unintended rise into political activism for healthcare for gay men and awareness surrounding the AIDS epidemic sweeping the nation.
Role: In the same year, Kitsch showed us one type of strength in Lone Surivor as an Army Special Ops fighter, and another type of strength as Bruce Niles, the partner of a man whose death helped spur Ned Weeks’ movement for AIDS activism in San Francisco in the early 1980s. Although Niles, a Wall Street banker, is closeted, he shows great leadership and ideas about activism as the first president of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and has to field the fiery Weeks’ attempts to out him on camera. The two — surrounded by supportive characters played by Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, and Jim Parsons — have the same goal, just different approaches.
Film: Last Orders (2002, 79%)has cast full of British heavyweights in their early Golden Years — Michael Caine, Tom Courteney, David Hemmings, Bob Hoskins, and Helen Mirren. Jack, played by Caine, was a simple London butcher who loved his friends and his wife. His last orders before passing away were to have his ashes scattered in the sea at Margate, and the tale follows his mates on their journey, woven with flashbacks to his early days with them and the love of his life, Amy.
Role: Young Amy was Reilly’s first major role outside of her many British television roles throughout the 1990s. She felt she was being typecast in comedy roles and actively sought a role to prove her dramatic chops. She and JJ Field, who played young Jack, portrayed the early days of the relationship, leading to love, trust, respect, and eventually the deathbed.
Film: Tigerland (2000, 77%), is the nickname for Fort Polk, an infamous Army training camp in Louisiana. There, a group of recruits go through Advanced Infantry Training as a last stop before entering into the Vietnam War in 1971. The story’s hero is Private Roland Bozz (none other than our Mr. Farrell), an unruly soldier who’s got a problem with authority, disobeying orders and talking back to his superiors all in the hopes of maintaining his humanness, and not giving over to the machine.
Role: True Detective isn’t the first time Omilami has gotten to bark orders at Farrell. Fifteen years ago, as Seargent First Class Ezra Landers, he gave Private Roland Bozz tough love and sound advice during training for Vietnam.
Film: Hilary and Jackie (1998, 88%)is a film about the famed du Pré sisters — both musical geniuses — based on the book written by Hilary du Pré (played by Rachel Griffiths who was nominated for an Oscar for the role). Cellist Jacqueline du Pré (played by Emily Watson, also nominated for her part) emerges from the shadows of older sister Hilary’s more triumphant childhood successes to become the world-renowned musician — only to develop Multiple Sclerosis. The film was shrouded in controversy because the famous musicians who knew Jackie in real life condemned her sister’s version of the story in the book and film.
Role: Daniel Barenboim is the famed pianist married to Jackie, who stays with her until her death in 1987 — despite Jackie’s affair with her sister’s husband, conductor Kiffi Finzi, and despite his own with Russian pianist Elena Bashkirova. Many instruments at play in this story, if you catch our drift.
Film: The Negotiator (1998, 74%)is the aptly named film about two top Chicago negotiators facing off. Directed by the then only 29-year-old F. Gary Gray (who was known for his high-profile music video direction), Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey star as Danny Roman and Chris Sabian. Roman is a celebrated police officer who finds out that he has been set up as a corrupt cop and a murderer. He takes control of a building in a panic, holding many hostages and will only negotiate with Sabian for his freedom.
Role: Although Commander Adam Beck is not the central figure here in a high-stakes situation, he’s the man who is always right there by Sabian’s side. Morse has played many roles that put him in a stern, authoritative position. Perhaps it’s his 6’4″ frame, or perhaps it’s because he’s from Boston and everyone knows you don’t mess with a 6’4″ guy from Boston.