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Matthew McConaughey Made A 450-Page Graph Of His Character's Trajectory On True Detective

One of the major distinguishing features of "True Detective" Season 1 is that it is a real decades-spanning saga, as we see mysteries within mysteries unfold from various points in the lives and careers of Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson). As it turns out, McConaughey brought Rust to life through an epic saga of his own, most of which never made it directly onto the screen.

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2014, McConaughey went into detail on how he got into the inscrutable mind of the Rust Cohle character, and his process was even more involved than you might expect after seeing the show. He purported to have created a massive "graph" detailing the tangled character arc of Rust Cohle that he could refer to during shooting to get into whatever headspace applied in a particular scene. "I just basically broke it down and made a 450-page graph of where Cohle was and where he was coming from," said the actor.

The process resembles Rust's own descent into the criminal underworld

If you've seen "True Detective" Season 1, it's hard not to be struck by the parallel between Matthew McConaughey's obsessive descent into the mind of Rustin Cohle and Cohle's own descent into the criminal underworld over the course of the grueling undercover investigation that changed him into the man we see in the 2012 "present" of the series.

As for what exactly was in this graph, and how it was assembled, McConaughey only shared the basic outline. But even that is pretty fascinating for "True Detective" fans all on its own. Basically, he divides the character into four distinct sections: Crash, Rust's undercover alter-ego, 1995 Cohle, 2002 Cohle, and 2012 Cohle. Read his description of the latter Cohle, and you'll get an idea of just how much thought McConaughey put into his character:

"This guy lived longer than he hoped. Fallen prey to his own beliefs. More cynical, angrier, he's had to endure the existence of this s***storm called life. A little ragged, more rough edges, living in a place where he can manage himself. Not too close. He's not in the CID. But he's not in Alaska. He's a guy who's resigned to his indentured servitude of being alive. But he despises the sentence and the penance. He will not accept defeat. He's not going [to] become a madman, he's not going to kill himself. He wrestles the devil every day, and he realizes that this may last a lot longer than he ever hoped for."

Everyone who is still obsessed with the character Rust Cohle long after the end of "True Detective" Season 1 would agree that McConaughey's elaborate preparations seem to have done the trick!