Mahershala Ali gives not one, not two, but three riveting performances on season three of HBO's True Detective as Arkansas state police officer Wayne Hays. Set against an Ozarks backdrop, Hays' story begins in 1980 as the detective looks into the disappearance of two children. Audiences follow Hays for more than three decades (the '80s, the '90s and finally in 2015), witnessing a romance blossom but then a marriage crumble as a career with high hopes also deteriorates.
Ali had been a fan of the HBO drama since season one, but never thought he'd star on it. "When this show came out, I was in a very different place in my career. I literally said, 'Man, I would love to be on True Detective,'" he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I've been working for 19 years now, so for this to be my first lead for a show, with a writer like Nic Pizzolatto, was a dream come true." The Emmy nominee (and two-time Oscar winner) spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about how he crafted his character with help from prosthetic makeup designer Michael Marino.