EXCLUSIVE: Carmen Ejogo Reveals What It Was Really Like Working with Mahershala Ali in ‘True Detective'

Wayne Hays and Amelia Reardon may have plenty of chemistry (and, more recently, disagreements) on screen in HBO’s third season of True Detective. But can the same be said for their real-life counterparts?

We chatted all things True Detective season three with its leading lady, Carmen Ejogo (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemSelma). And, fortunately, we also got the inside scoop on what it was like working opposite Academy and Golden Globe Award winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book) as Detective Hays (“Purple Hays,” for the experts in the room).

“It’s intense,” Ejogo told PureWow in an exclusive interview. “We’re both incredibly committed to getting the most out of each other and finding our own characters, which was an incredibly ambitious feat, particularly for Mahershala.”

Ejogo, who portrays Ali’s character’s wife in the crime show about the disappearance of two children from a small town in Arkansas, described the grueling hours of filming the season. “I mean, he worked pretty much every day for seven months on that job, so it was a really intense gig for him. The work that we have to do together is very intimate and so, emotionally, we really have to sort of cover everything.”

Seven months of playing the lead detective for a missing child cold case? We promise to never complain about being stressed at work again.

“It’s such a strange job because we’re playing characters that don’t really get each other in many ways,” Ejogo said. They don’t “get” each other? She could be referencing the recent husband-and-wife spats we’ve seen in episodes three and four, or perhaps there’s something deeper…

“Our job is a weird job sometimes because you’re working with material that is so personal. Nic Pizzolatto wrote something so personal that, inevitably, we are trying to bring it to life,” Ejogo said. “It’s an incredibly layered, broken relationship.”

So, um, we’re seriously starting to question everything we thought we knew about the Hayses… 

Tune into HBO next Sunday, February 3, at 9 p.m. for the next installment of True Detective.

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