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Actor Michelle Monaghan was a part of HBO’s long-running anthology series True Detective in its first season. But as much praise as True Detective received, it also experienced its share of criticism. The show’s depiction of its female cast was a point of scrutiny for the series early on, which Monaghan couldn’t have disagreed with more.

How Michelle Monaghan felt about the way women were depicted in ‘True Detective’

Michelle Monaghan sitting down wearing a black shirt at the onstage during the 'True Detective' panel discussion at the HBO portion of the 2014 Winter Television Critics Association tour.
Michelle Monaghan | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson weren’t the only actors who received attention during True Detective’s first season. The hit show had a few notable female actors a part of its cast as well. Monaghan co-starred right alongside McConaughey and Harrelson, playing the latter’s wife in the crime thriller. She committed to the show after the show’s director, Cary Fukunaga, and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto sent her a script.

“I read it, and the writing just totally stuck with me. It took me for a ride and I thought, ‘I haven’t read anything like this, maybe ever.’ It was really thought-provoking and smart, and the characters were so rich,” she once told Collider. “They sent me three episodes, but it was Episodes 1, 3 and 6. I was so desperate, at that point, to get them on the phone because I wanted to fill in the blanks. After I had a chat with them, and really saw where these characters went and, in particular, Maggie’s story arc, it was without any shadow of a doubt that I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Many viewers felt the same way about the series, praising its characters and story. However, there were others who believed True Detective’s depiction of female characters left a lot to be desired. The Guardian once brought up the argument that the show had a misogynistic undertone. Many of the victims on True Detective were women, while all of the cops depicted on the show were men.

In an interview with Daily Beast, the topic was brought up about the marginalization of female characters on True Detective. It was a take that Monaghan disagreed with. Having read the entire script, she asserted its female characters, especially her own, were one of the reasons that she signed on.

“I thought she was a completely fleshed out character. She has this very meaningful arc. She starts out as a nurturing person—a very protective wife and mother. She’s trying to keep her marriage intact,” she said.

How Michelle Monaghan described working with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

Aside from the material, what Monaghan also enjoyed was working alongside her two True Detective co-stars. She was already familiar with Harrelson thanks to a previous project they did, but it was her first time collaborating with McConaughey. She ended up watching the two work from the perspective of both an actor and a fan, admiring their performance.

“I really feel like Woody and Matthew just bring out the best in each other, in this. It’s just incredible. After just the first episode, they were so in tune with these characters, and it only got better,” she said. “They’re both so gifted. Matthew had just come off of Dallas Buyers Club. He had put on maybe a couple of pounds. He was really working on his diet to put everything back on really safely and slowly, and take care of his health. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, you’re incredible! You’re about to dive into this character, which is another dark and haunting role.’ And he was so committed and focused on the material. As an actor working with him, he’s really generous. He’s very sensitive to his fellow actors’ needs. He’s a real true scene partner. He’s very patient. I have a lot of respect for him.”