The casting process for True Detective‘s second season has become just about as complicated as Rust and Marty’s search for the Yellow King in season one. And if you add in the 21st-century problem of social media—which the Yellow King was not a big fan of—one could argue that it’s an even more complicated puzzle. For months, there have been rumors surrounding the number of leads—two! three! four!—and from there, rumors surrounding who will play those leads—Josh Brolin! Brad Pitt! Jessica Chastain!
At this point, the show’s creator, Nic Pizzolatto, has said that the second season will be set in California, but there’s still some debate as to the number of leads. Pizzolatto was hinting toward three; though now, if you add in the addition of a potential antagonist, it looks like there could be four. From there, other questions remain: Will there be a female detective? Who will play her?
Below, we’ve rounded up the many casting rumors that have circulated the internet—and weighed in on how true they seem, how plausible they seem, and how well each rumored star would fit into the landscape of the HBO series.
Christian Bale: It was rumored early on that HBO had reached out to Bale, and despite the fact that the Oscar winner would be a great fit in the gritty world of True Detective, The Wrap reported that he passed on the role. Since then, Bale’s name has yet to be brought back into the conversation.
Jessica Chastain: Chastain was the first woman rumored to join the HBO show’s second season, but her reps quickly told E! that she would not be involved, much to the dismay of pretty much everyone who has ever seen Chastain in anything.
Colin Farrell: Farrell’s involvement seems to be one of the less outlandish rumors, as sources have said that HBO has extended an offer. Most recently, TheWrap reported he was up for the role of Ray Velcoro. The In Bruges star would bring an element of pretty-boy charm—and potentially comedy—to the series while still fitting into the rough-and-tumble world of True Detective. If HBO is looking to relaunch the series without changing too much, it’s easy to see why they’d go after Farrell.
Taylor Kitsch: Kitsch was rumored along with Farrell, and based on his upcoming film schedule, it certainly seems like he’ll have the time. Will he be a good fit? If you’ve only seen Kitsch’s recent works like John Carter and/or Battleship, you might be doubtful. But with his earlier work on Friday Night Lights, Kitsch proved that he has the acting chops to hold his own in a scene with someone like Kyle Chandler, and with his role in Savages, he showed that not only can he fit into a dark, bleak setting, but he can shine in it. His name is still in the mix, even among new casting rumors, so he’s still a potential contender. TheWrap puts him up for the role of Paul Woodrugh.
Brad Pitt: A whole lot of nothing came of the Brad Pitt rumor, so it’s probably safe to say that it was nothing more than just that—a rumor.
Joaquin Phoenix: Phoenix was looped in with the first batch of names when Deadline reported that “Unofficial breakdowns floated around have listed the three leads as a fortysomething male detective/cop with Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale and Josh Brolin as prototypes, a twentysomething male cop and a thirtysomething female detective, with Jessica Chastain as a potential prototype.” From there, word of Phoenix’s casting has all but died.
Cate Blanchett: Blanchett’s name was thrown into the mix a few times, but always as an after-the-fact statement. Diagnosis: Doubtful.
Josh Brolin: As mentioned above, Brolin’s name was included in the discussion toward the beginning of the rumor cycle, but not much has been made of the rumors since. And considering Brolin has a fairly busy film schedule lined up, it’s not looking likely.
Russell Crowe: Crowe was another movie star sucked into the mix without much to go on, it seems. Much like Brolin, he’s got a film schedule that should keep him busy for the near future.
Michael Fassbender: Fassbender was rumored early on, but talk of his involvement quickly came to an end. And based on his upcoming film schedule, we’d be very impressed if he found time for any sort of detective work.
Elisabeth Moss: The latest Wrap report claims that Moss is being considered for the role of Ani Bezzerides, “a tough, no-nonsense Monterey sheriff whose troubled upbringing has driven her to gambling and alcohol.” The rumor is still fresh, but based on her work on Top of the Lake, it’s not hard to imagine her in the True Detective universe. In fact, it’s kind of easy.
Vince Vaughn: Here’s a twist: Vaughn is being rumored as a lead, but not as a detective. According to TheWrap, Vaughn is in talks to play season two’s antagonist, Frank Semyon, “a former thug-turned-businessman.” It might seem out-of-character for Vaughn, but that’s exactly what makes it exciting. Remember how creepy he was in Domestic Disturbance? And with two films in post-production, he could seemingly find the time.
Michelle Forbes: Forbes’ name is the last one rumored by TheWrap as a potential ex-wife of Farrell or current wife of Vaughn. There’s no official word on her involvement, but based on her resume—The Killing, True Blood—there isn’t much she can’t do. Basically, it could happen.