Louis Herthum was a natural for his role on Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “True Detective.”
“I play a Cajun guy,” says the 57-year-old Baton Rouge native who’s lived in Los Angeles for years. “I don’t know why they couldn’t cast the role there (in Louisiana, where the police anthology drama is shot). It’s funny because the casting director said, ‘This is a really hard role to cast.’ And I didn’t say anything because I wanted the role.”
The “True Detective” casting directors already knew Herthum, having selected him to play a werewolf in the fifth season of HBO’s Louisiana-set vampire drama “True Blood,” and for his recurring role on A&E’s drama series “Longmire.”
In the “True Detective” installment, Herthum plays Terry Guidry in a scene opposite Matthew McConaughey, who stars as Detective Rust Cohle. Cohle and partner Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are probing an occult-laced murder case.
“Matthew McConaughey (Cohle) comes and finds him (Guidry) out in this very remote location, and he just wants to question him about his son, who went missing six years earlier,” Herthum says. “It’s a very emotional scene for my character because his disappearance was never resolved. So he kind of like comes back and brings up all this, you know, these horrible feelings. It felt like a pretty powerful scene, at least when we were shooting it.”
At the one-day filming last June in Manchac, Herthum says he gave Guidry a very soft, “almost like a Governor Edwards,” Cajun accent.
The accents, the Louisiana setting, the twisted plot all factor into the fascinating way series creator Nic Pizzolatto, also a Louisiana native, tells the story, Herthum says.
“The fact that he’s got a story within a story. He’s got the story of these heinous murders with these bizarre circumstances, and yet he tells the story of these two men (Cohle and Hart), and their time together, and the story of their lives, really, and how they intertwine with each other,” Herthum says. “I love the whole flashing back and forward. I find that to be a device that really holds your interest because you just never know where it’s going to go next, and it’s not so linear. Just boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s something new all the time.”
Herthum says he spoke with Pizzolatto briefly that day on set in Manchac.
“Of course, I just love to see any Louisianian succeed on that level,” he says.
The finite number of stories makes the way they’re told by the writers of utmost importance, Herthum says.
“The thing that makes it (the story) unique, hopefully, is the way you tell it, the technique. So I think he’s (Pizzolatto) done that in spades, and, of course, the fact that there’s just no better backlot than Louisiana. It’s just such a beautiful place, then you have the extraordinary cinematography that just sucks you in. I’ve talked to people out here that have seen it (‘True Detective’) and have never been to Louisiana, and they’re saying, ‘This has to be one of the best Louisiana films that I’ve seen,’ just because it’s intriguing them so much.”
Everyone who films in Louisiana says the setting is truly one of the characters, he adds.