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Jodie Foster and Kali Reis on the latest season of 'True Detective'


The fictional town of Ennis, Alaska, in December is deadly cold, dark around the clock and deeply creepy.


KALI REIS: (As Evangeline Navarro) The night country - it takes us, one by one.

SUMMERS: "True Detective: Night Country" stars Jodie Foster as Police Chief Liz Danvers...

JODIE FOSTER: Liz is pretty much awful. We love that about her, I guess. She has a lot to learn. But the truth is is that she is afraid, I think, of the suffering that's inside of her.

SUMMERS: ...And boxing champion Kali Reis as Trooper Evangeline Navarro.

REIS: She definitely has a hard shell with a big heart. She's walking between the spiritual and the rational real life. She's not really sure which way to go, and she's trying to navigate the best way she can while taking care of her sister.

SUMMERS: When a group of scientists go missing and are found dead on the ice, Danvers and Navarro reluctantly team up to figure out what happened and whether there's a link to another case - the unsolved murder of an Indigenous woman named Annie. It's a new direction for "True Detective," as Foster and Reis explain.

FOSTER: I think the thing that's so extraordinary about this installment of the series is that it explores the feminine or the female and the masculine and the male that is in all of these characters, including the women, in a way that is so complex.

REIS: You get to see these women in this men's world and have to deal with these things. And they have masculine qualities. They have feminine qualities. I think it's a well-rounded energy around these characters.

FOSTER: Yeah. And, of course, you know, masculine and feminine is all made up anyway. So might as well take from both? I think the one difference - and we've talked about this, Kali - the one difference between our season and the original season or the subsequent seasons is that our characters can really relate to the victims in a different way. I think the - Season 1 was a more paternalistic relationship to the victims. You know, she could be my sister. She could be my daughter. In this case, these two detectives relate to these women who, even though they may not have suffered the kind of abuse that one of the characters in the show that we're investigating has. They get the microaggressions, and we get to see them continually throughout.

SUMMERS: I mean, Jodie, I can't have this conversation with you without bringing up Clarice Starling, who was, of course, the young up-and-comer who was trying to crack the serial killer in "The Silence Of The Lambs." And now, in "Night Country," Danvers is the older, experienced officer who's now mentoring a younger detective in Navarro. And I know that many watchers will likely have Clarice Starling in mind when they watch this show. But did you?

FOSTER: Oh, I mean, I don't think you can wipe it away, right? Because that movie is really in the collective conscious, and it's a good movie. But Clarice couldn't be more different than Danvers. That's for sure. And Danvers is not the person that I think Clarice would have grown into. Danvers is, yes, jaded, cynical, seen it all. But I have a feeling that Clarice would have, you know, gone on and quit the FBI and eventually kind of done good works. You know, she would've worked in a soup kitchen and maybe gone in the Peace Corps or something like that. I feel like she would have saved herself and she wouldn't have become jaded and cynical.

SUMMERS: Kali, your character, Navarro, as she's going through investigating this case about the scientists, there is another case that haunts her, and it involves the murder of a young Indigenous woman whose name is Annie. And I don't want to spoil anything here, but why is it that Evangeline cannot seem to let that case go?

REIS: You know, she has this craving for fighting for justice. And I know, especially when it comes to women, she - it goes back to, you know, not knowing what happened to her mom. But also it's just a prominent thing that happens in the Indigenous communities. Our women are targeted. Missing and murdered Indigenous women is something that has plagued our people, not just in America, not just in Canada, but Indigenous people and women no matter where you go. And I know her being part of that community, feeling her as a just duty - she might not even understand fully why she has this craving. So it has a lot to do with her mom and just who she is as an Indigenous woman.

SUMMERS: And I understand that the show brought on and worked closely with a number of Indigenous producers in order to make sure that the story rang true, that it honored those communities and their experiences. How did you take that on personally? What was that like?

REIS: It was something that kind of carried over on from my boxing career, just having a voice for the voiceless, fighting for those who can't fight. And just - it's not about me, it's about we. And if I have a voice to use in a platform that we don't get heard, it's just my duty as an Indigenous woman to do that.

SUMMERS: I mean, the storyline of the season is so undeniably dark, and the season was filmed on location in Iceland amid frigid temperatures, the conditions sometimes brutal. Were there things that you each specifically had to do to prepare for that? And I want to ask, was there anything in the course of filming these episodes that intimidated you?

FOSTER: Wow. Yeah, it was cold. And it made us really understand the characters in a way through our bodies, I think, in a way that we wouldn't be able to otherwise. Gives us a real appreciation for these, you know, North Country inhabitants, for the people that grew up there in that kind of isolation, that kind of survival, that pact you make with nature, that you're going to work together in order to survive. And I don't think that we would have been able to really get that unless we were in the real location.

REIS: Yeah. I was intimidated by Jodie. Just being around the Indigenous people that we - they were able to fly out from Alaska and Greenland to create this town - and we - I've learned so much from them 'cause - being an Indigenous woman. I'm not from Alaska. They - made different. Inuit and Inupiaq people are just made different. And they know their ancestors did this, and they've been doing this for centuries. So it was just really important for me to learn from them, understand what they want to see on screen, how they want to be portrayed on screen, asking questions and just really getting what clothes, what seal skins and what this and what that to survive in the cold. And it was just a beautiful time there, but it was definitely cold, man.

SUMMERS: Over the course of the season, I think it's fair to say that Liz Danvers and Evangeline Navarro learn a whole lot from each other. What will each of you, Kali and Jodie, take away from your collaboration?

FOSTER: This was such a provocative and important experience for me, really one of the most and the best in my career. And I think a lot of it also has to do with the fact that the voice of the film is really Indigenous. And we are here to support that and to center that, which I think is quite different than a lot of the films that have been released recently that feature Indigenous stories and yet aren't really told by their voices. And I think that recognizing, in my case, that it's not my time, it's their time, and I had my time, and it's a time for me to listen, I think, has really been shapeshifting for me.

REIS: Oh, I've learned a lot. I mean, this was my third job as an actor, and I'm not from Alaska. I'm not Inupiaq. I am Wampanoag and Cape Verdean. So just learning about that side of the world and how they survived and their stories, their laughter and also learning how familiar everybody was, even though we never met each other. And, you know, I went in there with a job to do, left with a whole bunch of friends and family. And it's just something I'll take away that's - it's been such a learning, tough experience. And I learned that I'm capable of doing it and that I belong doing this and telling stories, as well as there's so much talent to be had. And when we have the opportunity to tell our stories from our perspective, not having somebody else assume and guess and tell their version of it, that we can create something beautiful. You know, teamwork makes the dream work. I know it's very cliche, but it's true. And the proof is in the product.

SUMMERS: Kali Reis and Jodie Foster, thank you both so much.

REIS: Thank you.

FOSTER: Thank you.


BILLIE EILISH: What do you want from me? Why don't you run from me? What are you wondering? What do you know? Why aren't you scared of me? Why do you care for me? When we all fall asleep, where do we go? Come here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.