David Milch Reveals Advice He Gave to 'True Detective's' Nic Pizzolatto

David Milch - P 2014
Vera Anderson/WireImage

David Milch - P 2014

The "Deadwood" creator met Pizzolatto — whom he calls "one of the best writers I've encountered" — thanks to an introduction by former HBO entertainment chief Sue Naegle.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. 

When Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson arrived on the set of True Detective, Nic Pizzolatto gave both boxed sets of Deadwood, his favorite show. The HBO Western from David Milch was designed to inspire the film actors, the way it had Pizzolatto. The first-time showrunner had had the opportunity to meet Milch before True Detective began, thanks to an introduction by former HBO entertainment chief Sue Naegle. Over lunch at L.A. Farm in Santa Monica, Pizzolatto asked plenty of questions of his hero.

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"He had a fundamental uncertainty about whether television, as a medium, could sustain work of the seriousness that he wanted to bring to it," recalls Milch. "I felt that it was important to reassure him that it could." Although the two haven't remained in touch, save for an occasional email, Milch has kept up with Pizzolatto's work, calling him "one of the of best writers I've encountered."

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Having experienced similar pressure and expectations, Milch offers this perspective: "When you go into your first season, if you have enough character, your relationship with the material is decisive," he says. "When you go into a second season, there are all kinds of foreign expectations that begin to register, and it makes for all kinds of conflicting impulses. You have to be kind of religious about excluding them. It's a battle that you win or lose every day."