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Cary Fukunaga: Working on ‘True Detective’ Became ‘Disheartening’ as Nic Pizzolatto Got More Power

Cary Fukunaga thinks Nic Pizzolatto "needs to be edited down."

"True Detective"

“True Detective”


Cary Fukunaga was a Student Academy Award winner and the director of the acclaimed indie “Sin Nombre” by the time he landed the gig to direct the first season of “True Detective,” but it was the HBO crime drama that made the filmmaker a household name. Fukunaga won a directing Emmy for his work on the series, but he did not return for the show’s second (or third) season. Both Fukunaga and “True Detective” creator-writer Nic Pizzolatto have been honest about set tension between them in the past. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fukunaga was more blunt than ever while discussing how working on “True Detective” became a “disheartening” experience.

“The show was presented to me in the way we pitched it around town — as an independent film made into television,” Fukunaga. “The writer and director are a team. Over the course of the project, Nic kept positioning himself as if he was my boss and I was like, ‘But you’re not my boss. We’re partners. We collaborate.’ By the time they got to postproduction, people like [former HBO programming president] Michael Lombardo were giving Nic more power. It was disheartening because it didn’t feel like the partnership was fair.”

Fukunaga added, “As for their creative differences, Nic is a really good writer, but I do think he needs to be edited down. It becomes too much about the writing and not enough about the momentum of the story. My struggle with him was to take some of these long dialogue scenes and put some air into them. We differed on tone and taste.”

Pizzolatto has spoken on the creative differences in the past, once telling THR, “Of course, you’re going to have discussions and difference of opinion, but what matters is that everyone is working without ego toward the best realization of what we have.”

Fukunaga is no stranger to creative differences. The director spent years developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” for Warner Bros., only to walk away from the project when the movie moved to the studio’s New Line division.

“I was on that for four or five years with Warners and then it got moved to New Line, right before we were about to go into production,” Fukunaga told THR. “I think New Line’s view of what they wanted and my view of what I wanted were very different. I wanted to do a drama with horror elements, more like ‘The Shining.’ I think they wanted to do something more [pure horror] like ‘Annabelle’ [from the ‘Conjuring’ films]. That was essentially the disconnect.”

Next up for Fukunaga is the release of the long-delayed James Bond tentpole “No Time to Die,” in U.S. theaters October 8.

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