‘True Detective: Night Country’ Stars Talk Inspiration and Connecting to Characters at Variety’s Indigenous Storytelling in Entertainment Breakfast

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Stars Talk Inspiration and Connecting to Characters at Variety’s Indigenous Storytelling in Entertainment Breakfast

HBO’s “True Detective” took over television in 2014 with Woody Harrelson and Mathew Matthew McConaughey as two gritty detectives struggling to solve a seemingly impossible string of supernatural murders. Ten years and three seasons later, Jodie Foster and Kali Reis have taken over for “True Detective: Night Country,” ushering in the most-viewed season of the series to date.

As part of the Variety Indigenous Storytelling in Entertainment Breakfast, Variety‘s deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley sat down with Reis, co-star Isabella Star LaBlanc and creator Issa López to talk about how they brought the latest season of “True Detective” to life.

“True Detective: Night Country” follows detectives Liz Danvers (Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Reis) as they investigate an incident at an Alaskan research station and the disappearances of young women from a local Indigenous community. Three of López’s six projects as a writer-director deal with the disappearance of women, which she says is a topic very close to her heart.

“In Mexico, 11 women disappear every day. And my mother died when I was very young, of natural causes, but very suddenly,” López said. “So I am very connected and aware of the result of the sudden disappearance of the center of a household and the violence surrounding the female experience.”

Coming from a Cape Verdean and Wampanoag background, Reis found her character “very relatable” since her “Night Country” counterpart comes from a dual background and struggles between her two identities.

“I never felt enough of either, or excepted of either. So when I initially read the script and spoke to Issa about who Navarro was on a surface level, she is a woman who is half Dominican, half Iñupiat. She also got ripped away from her culture and doesn’t know what she wants to belong to,” Reis said. “And that is very identifiable, especially because of the specific region I come from in northeast America. It’s a whole different history that is very misunderstood.”

LaBlanc, who is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota tribal nation, plays Leah Danvers, a 17-year-old member of the local Indigenous community who protests in defense of her culture. LeBlanc said she tapped into her teenage memories of cultural education while acting in “Night Country.”

“Even though I am very grateful that I was raised in community and raised with tradition, unlike Leah, I do remember what it felt like to learn for the first time how to hold these two worlds that, as Indigenous people, we are asked to navigate and how difficult it can be,” LeBlanc said. “So I felt so much pride on behalf of Leah and on behalf of all the Indigenous kids that I know who are changing the world and, for generations, have been our leaders.”

Watch the conversation in its entirety above.

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