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‘True Detective’ season 3 to star Mahershala Ali of ‘Moonlight’

Mahershala Ali, who won an Oscar for

Mahershala Ali, who won an Oscar for "Moonlight," will star in HBO's season 3 of "True Detective." Credit: Getty Images / Alberto E. Rodriguez

At long last, “True Detective III” is a go, but of greater significance, the new installment may well represent the return of both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who will both serve as executive producers.  

HBO — which announced the renewal Friday — did not announce details of the cast, other than to confirm that Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight” Oscar winner, “House of Cards”) will play the lead role of Wayne Hays, a state police detective from Northwest Arkansas. The trades had earlier announced that Ali would join a future edition of “Detective.”

In addition, HBO confirmed that series creator Nic Pizzolatto will write ”TD III,” with an assist on one episode from David Milch, who had also earlier joined the series.

HBO programming chief Casey Bloys said in a statement, “Nic has written truly remarkable scripts [and] with his ambitious vision and Mahershala Ali and Jeremy Saulnier [who will direct] aboard we are excited to embark on the next installment of ‘True Detective.’ ”

While the third season was always considered a likelihood, it was never exactly a fait accompli, at least until Milch and Ali threw their hats in. The first edition, co-starring Harrelson and McConaughey, was the sensation of the 2014 TV season, but the second a year later was a lead balloon. Fans clamored for the return of McConaughey’s saturnine cop, Rust Cohle, and Harrelson’s diametrical opposite, Marty Hart, but the first season was close-ended along (apparently) with their characters. Nevertheless, neither ruled out a return, while McConaughey said he was open to coming back.

HBO offered no airdate, but it did give a logline: “The next installment of ‘True Detective’ tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.”

In a statement, Pizzolatto said, “I’m tremendously thrilled to be working with artists at the level of Mahershala and Jeremy. I hope the material can do justice to their talents, and we’re all very excited to tell this story.”

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