It's been the hashtag game that's consumed much of the year -- pretty much any pairing of celebrities can be termed #TrueDetectiveSeason2, a nod to just how well-matched, and how unusual for TV stars, were the movie actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the show's first season. Given the career boost the police serial gave McConaughey, especially (it's arguably responsible for his pulling ahead of Leonardo DiCaprio in the final days of the Oscar race), the question of casting has been a low-key obsession for TV fans all year.
But even given the unlikeliness of McConaughey's and Harrelson's casting last go-round, no one, really, expected the show to go with Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn, the stars whose roles HBO confirmed today. Both actors, unlike the slowly ascendant McConaughey, are far off their peak in terms of public esteem: Vaughn, in particular, enjoyed years as a star of big-screen comedies ("The Break-Up," "Dodgeball," "Wedding Crashers") but has seen steeply diminishing returns in recent years by sticking to the acerbic comedy character that once worked. Last year brought both "Delivery Man" and "The Internship," a one-two punch no actor would envy. His trying dark TV drama -- in the role of a career criminal -- is legitimately surprising.
Farrell, playing "Ray Velcoro, a compromised detective whose allegiances are torn between his masters in a corrupt police department and the mobster who owns him, is a bit more in line with what one might expect from a potential star. He enjoyed early future-Tom-Cruise buzz and several would-be star vehicles ("S.W.A.T.," "Miami Vice," "The Recruit") but never quite capitalized as a movie star, and has lately been doing smaller, more interesting character work in movies like "Crazy Heart" and the forthcoming "Miss Julie," directed by Liv Ullman. He's the McConaughey here, judging by his evident interest in pushing himself and his faded-it-boy status.
As for women on "True Detective" -- a show whose first season was criticized for treating half the species as objects and whose second was rumored to potentially star anyone from Rosario Dawson to Jessica Biel? Maybe they'll be in the next announcement.