Nic Pizzolatto (University of Arkansas '05) profiled by Vanity Fair | Rock Candy

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nic Pizzolatto (University of Arkansas '05) profiled by Vanity Fair

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 3:43 PM

click to enlarge Nic Pizzolatto
  • Nic Pizzolatto

Fiction writer, TV show-runner and renowned mystic Nic Pizzolatto, who got his MFA at the University of Arkansas roughly a decade before creating the HBO neo-noir series "True Detective," is profiled in the new issue of Vanity Fair ahead of the June 21 premiere of the show's second season. Written by Rich Cohen, the piece opens with the equivalent of an extended full disclosure before proceeding to probe Pizzolatto's creative universe and very vaguely tease details about the new season. It's fairly intense. For instance, this oddly sensual early description of the TV auteur:  

He could’ve stepped out of a novel by Steinbeck. The writer as crusader, chronicler of love and depravity. His shirt was rumpled, his hair mussed, his manner that of a man who’d just hiked along the railroad tracks or rolled out from under a box. He is fine-featured, with fierce eyes a little too small for his face. It gives him the aura of a bear or some other species of dangerous animal. When I was a boy and dreamed of literature, this is how I imagined a writer—a kind of outlaw, always ready to fight or go on a spree. After a few drinks, you realize the night will culminate with pledges of undying friendship or the two of you on the floor, trying to gouge each other’s eyes out.

There is also this ominous suggestion of early-life trauma, which is not explored further:
When I talked to Vince Vaughn, he alluded to early difficulties in Pizzolatto’s life: After what he overcame, you know he’s got character. At first, this did not register. I suppose I thought what Vaughn meant was simply childhood in the impoverished South, which, to a kid from Lake Forest, Illinois, like Vaughn, can count as a trauma. But after a few such allusions, I thought to myself, How much do I really know about Nic? When I asked Pizzolatto about it by e-mail, his response was sharp in the way of a curtain coming down. “That’s not something I am willing to share.”

In the writers’ room, I’d argued with Nic about motivation. Simply put, I don’t believe in it and he does. I don’t believe that a single event can explain the way a person behaves. But in Nic’s conception, every character is driven by a particular engine. Well, maybe this was why. Maybe Nic himself is driven by some early trauma. Though I never discovered its nature, it remains a blank spot in his story that might explain everything.

It's also the most in-depth look at Pizzolato to date, however. He is described, at various points, as "occasionally sweet" and "a shade too intense" and "a big personality, the crazy fuck who, having won a pile of chips—and it’s two in the morning and the casino is filled with sharks—pushes it all back to the center of the table." That last part is more or less the thesis of the article, which is after all titled "Can Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective’s Uncompromising Auteur, Do It All Again?"

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