Director Jeremy Saulnier, one of the key reasons to be excited for season 3 of HBO’s True Detective has left the project earlier than anticipated. The third season of the crime anthology had taken its time coming together after the second season disappointed critically and creatively despite boasting an impressive cast that included Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel McAdams. The future of the series from creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto remained in question until last year when it was announced the premium channel was moving ahead with an all-new season and had begun lining up talent in front of and behind the camera.
An important part of the talent behind the camera was the addition of Saulnier, whose recent directorial efforts, the dark and brutal Blue Ruin and Green Room, earned him plenty of acclaim as a genre director on the rise. Coming on board True Detective season 3, Saulnier was slated to split directorial duties with Pizzolatto, but now it looks like he will only direct two episodes from the season instead of three.
As reported by Variety, Saulnier has left the project, with “scheduling conflicts” being used as the reason behind his exit. The network issued the following statement regarding Saulnier and his replacement, director Daniel Sackheim:
“Director and executive producer Jeremy Saulnier has completed the first two episodes of True Detective. Season 3 and will be departing the production due to scheduling issues. Daniel Sackheim has come on board as a director and executive producer for the series alongside series creator and director Nic Pizzolatto.”
Though it’s disappointing to learn that Saulnier won’t be able to complete all of the work he’d signed on to direct, it’s at least good to hear he finished two episodes before departing. From the report, it sounds as though Saulnier had been set up to deliver the first three episodes of the season, with Pizzolatto making his directorial debut on the remaining five, meaning he would also handle the season finale. Thankfully, Sackheim, the director stepping in, is no slouch. Having worked on acclaimed series like The Americans, Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, and Amazon’s upcoming Jack Ryan, Sackheim’s addition bodes well for the series.
Still, it's not clear how many episodes Sackheim will actually helm, and any way you cut it, it means three different directors for the series' third go-round. A large part of the success of True Detective season 1 was credited to Cary Fukunaga, who helmed every episode, giving it a visual and tonal consistency that can be difficult to duplicate with multiple individuals behind the camera. It remains to be seen if this third outing will be able to duplicate that season's successes from a creative and visual standpoint, but considering it has lined up Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo, Stephen Dorff, Scoot McNary, and Ray Fisher, it stands a good chance of impressing either way.
True Detective season 3 is expected to premier on HBO in 2019.