Alexandra Daddario Didn’t Expect True Detective To Be Anything More Than A Resume Filler
The first season of “True Detective,” which aired on HBO in 2014, takes place in multiple time frames. Louisiana detectives Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) spent a harrowing time in 1995 investigating the murder of a young woman named Dora Lange. Years later, in 2012, they had to revisit the case and other unsolved cases besides.
The first season was overwhelmingly well-received, earning six Primetime Emmy nominations, and winning one for director Cary Fukunaga. Many essays were written about the series, with some looking at the rundown, Southern aesthetic, and others examining the show’s unfettered look at a toxically masculine worldview, where the women on “True Detective” merely exist as tools to be used or rejected by the men. The series seems to take place in a parallel 1950s hard-boiled universe not too far away from the era’s ultra-salacious EC Comics.
In the 1995 segments, Hart is having an affair with a pretty young court stenographer named Lisa, played by actor Alexandra Daddario. Lisa will eventually reveal the affair to Hart’s wife, but not before engaging in a sex scene marked by HBO’s requisite amount of notable nudity.
Prior to “True Detective,” Daddario was already making a name for herself playing roles like “pretty girl” in “The Squid and the Whale” and “girlfriend” in “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.” She also played the fierce and intelligent Annabeth, daughter of Athena, in a pair of Percy Jackson movies, and in 2013, appeared in the rebooted “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” where she did an exemplary job being terrified by Leatherface.
In a 2021 interview with Collider, Daddario recalled what a boost “True Detective” was to her career. Which was odd to her, as she felt it was just another gig.
Booking what comes along
Alexandra Daddario claims that she never knows what acting jobs are going to be the ones that boost her career and what ones will go nowhere. Her philosophy seems to be to merely look at the most interesting thing in front of her and do what sounds most exciting. This will sometimes lead to weird duds like “Songbird,” and sometimes net her an Emmy nomination, as she did with the first season of “The White Lotus.” Daddario is also currently playing the lead role in the AMC series “The Mayfair Witches,” which is now in production for a second season.
Back in 2014 when she took “True Detective,” she expected nothing, as she was literally playing “the other woman.” The unexpected reaction to her performance allowed her to instantly develop a kind of mental agility, permitting her to shed certain kinds of expectations about her career choices. She said:
“The biggest successes I’ve had in my career, I did not expect or they were completely out of the blue. And the biggest jobs I’ve booked, I had no concept that I was gonna book them. So I’ve tried to maintain my sanity or whatever my viewpoint on life is, I try not to put too many expectations on things. I do have more knowledge and understanding of tracking and how things are gonna work, but ‘True Detective,’ for example […] it’s like, I didn’t see what was gonna happen from that coming at all.”
Daddario said that she wasn’t even invited to the show’s premiere. But when the press started rolling in, she immediately said to herself that her new goal was to merely be as good as she could be in whatever gig she managed to land.
It will look good on my résumé
Was it a mercenary choice? No. Alexandra Daddario admitted she just wanted to put a different kind of role in her filmography. When asked about her career intentions when playing Lisa, Daddario was frank. She said:
“The tactical decision was, I went in for the audition and they seemed vaguely interested, and it was for a different role and I was like, ‘Well, they’re vaguely interested and I love these actors and I love Cary Fukunaga and I want to be in this show, so let me force them to hire me.’ [Laughs] I thought I need something on my résumé that shows that I can do something different, or something. I just thought it would look good on my résumé.”
Daddario was also frank about the fact that her part required her to disrobe. She understood that she might have only been seen by audiences as “naked woman,” and not as a character. It seems that despite the prurient nature of one of her scenes, Hollywood took notice. She recalled hearing from her agent only moments after her first episode aired:
“I didn’t expect to have what I had happen, happen. which was […] getting naked on a show where I didn’t have a huge role, I didn’t know what to expect. And then, of course, that episode aired and my manager called — and I’ll never forget it — I was sitting on my boyfriend’s couch and she calls me in the morning after the episode aired and she was like, ‘The phone’s been ringing off the hook all morning. The phone won’t stop ringing!’ And all of a sudden, everyone in town wanted to meet with me, and then I booked ‘San Andreas.’”
“San Andreas” was a high-profile 2015 Hollywood disaster movie with Dwayne Johnson. Daddario’s career has been textured and busy ever since.