|Born||Nicholas Austin Pizzolatto
October 18, 1975
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Occupation||Author, screenwriter, producer|
|Alma mater||Louisiana State University
University of Arkansas
|Notable works||True Detective|
There's never been anything I didn't love that I didn't connect with on a personal level because, to some degree, I projected upon it.
I enjoy a third act, and I like stories with ending. A lot of my frustration with serialized storytelling is a lot of shows don't have a third act. They have an endless second act, and then they find out it's their last year and often have to hustle to invent a third act, but they were never necessarily organically meaning to begin with.
In the summer of 2010, I was working on a version of 'True Detective' that I was thinking might be my next novel, and it was told in these two first-person voices; Cohle and Hart's voices.
The work is where I tend to feel pressure – not so much in the reaction to it.
I'd want to bring a flamethrower to faculty meetings. The preciousness of academics and their fragile personalities would not be tolerated in any other business in the known universe.
You just do the best you can, and when you're able to connect with people, and when you do, it's just incredibly gratifying.
I knew 'True Detective' wasn't something I could allow anyone else to develop. But by the time HBO expressed an interest, I still had no real experience.
I find the constraints of drama actually freeing: It brings everything down to character and action.
Killing characters on television has become an easy short cut to cathartic emotion.
I left the University of Chicago's creative writing program for a tenure-track job at DePauw University in Indiana, then left DePauw in 2010 for Los Angeles.
For me as a storyteller, I want to follow the characters and the story through what they organically demand.
The conspiracies that I've researched and encountered, they seem to happen very ad hoc: they become conspiracies when it's necessary to have a conspiracy.
For the finale, I thought the audience deserved to get a close point of view on the monster, and to recognize him the way you recognize the heroes of 'True Detective.'
Whatever I watched, whatever I loved in 36 years of life on Earth, probably had some influence on me.
We're all born storytellers. It's part of the species. But, more specifically, I suppose a particular combination of sensitivity and trauma made me a writer: an essential disquiet with reality, which required exploration through portrayal.
At DePauw, I was teaching writing and fiction. The things I wanted to teach, more than anything else, were form and theory of the novel, of narrative. I liked those classes.
There are websites of 'True Detective' artwork out there now, and it's beautiful. And I don't want to take that away from anybody. I know what it means to me. But I don't want to take away anyone's interpretation of the show.
We live in a culture that has a real hard time distinguishing fiction from reality. Even when they're told something is fiction.
If you are a certain kind of hands-on learner and have been in a writers room and know how scripts get made, and you know what pre-production is, then mostly it's making sure the actors get what they need, and you are providing creative oversight while allowing room for everyone else to own the material, too.
Often, what allows someone to behave heroically in dire circumstances is unpalatable in day-to-day life.
I don't think you can create effectively toward expectation. I'm not in the service business.
As someone with a novelistic background, I just didn't have much interest in creating stories by committee. I don't think you necessarily get the best story through that approach.
I grew up in a working-class Catholic family in south Louisiana. I went to a state university. I taught literature, wrote a novel that was the novel I wanted to write, and got a couple of good reviews but no real traction. I had no idea how to get a job in TV.
TV and film were always governing passions of mine, and that first wave of great HBO shows in the early years of the millennium was feeding my desire for fiction more than the books I was reading.
I grew up in Louisiana and spent my formative years there. There's a contradictory nature to the place and a sort of sinister quality underneath it all.
Art was always for me an escape and a way to relate to the world around me.
The idea of being a show runner was very attractive to me, to create and control something.
You know how people say that young people feel immortal? I don't know what they're talking about. I was planning for how I would deal with my death in good conscience well before I even hit puberty.
I was raised by television. It was my first cultural window. It was a constant companion.
I read 'The Conspiracy Against the Human Race' and found it incredibly powerful writing. For me as a reader, it was less impactful as philosophy than as one writer's ultimate confessional: an absolute horror story, where the self is the monster.
It's your job to come up with compelling characters who speak to an individual authenticity. If I'm not interested in the characters, I can't go on. I have to be fascinated by them.
Most television shows are going to require an actor sign up from four to six years, but an anthology show really amounts to five or six months at the most. I thought serious actors might be attracted to that.
When you're a confused 19-year-old filled with questions you can't even articulate and a kind of black rage that feeds at your heart from the moment you wake up in the morning, and you discover Marcus Aurelius' 'The Meditations,' that changes your life.
Whatever story you're telling in Louisiana, the landscape is going to become a character in it.
I didn't come to Hollywood to be subservient to anyone else's vision.
If I write scripts that nobody likes, I don't think we'll be doing 'True Detective.'
I was raised in a heavily Catholic family. Early and consistent encounters with mysticism.
I made 'True Detective' like it was going to be the only thing I ever made for television. So put in everything and the kitchen sink. Everything.
If there was one overarching theme to 'True Detective,' I would say it was that, as human beings, we are nothing but the stories we live and die by – so you'd better be careful what stories you tell yourself.
'The Atlantic' really gave me my writing career – even just the conviction to be a writer.
I liked teaching, but the bureaucracy of academia and the petty intrigue… It wasn't a good fit. Once I admitted that myself, that I didn't like academia, I was ready to try TV.
'True Detective' is a densely layered work with resonant details and symbology and rich characterization under the guise of one of the forms of this mystery genre. That's what we shoot for.
For me, the worst writing generally just 'flips' things: this person's really a traitor; it was all a dream; etc. Nothing is so ruinous as a forced 'twist,' I think.
If landscape is a character for me, then it helps if I'm familiar with it and I already have a take on it.
In the summer of 2010, I had decided to get into film and TV writing, so I wrote scripts for six different ideas I had developed, and the pilot for 'True Detective' was one of them.