The television rumor mill started churning today in a unique way based on a report that Jessica Chastain was offered a role in the next season of HBO's True Detective. The Chastain talk joined even more unlikely rumors that her Tree of Life costar, Brad Pitt, would join the cast.
Now, the news has since been shot down by Chastain's reps, who told E! that she was not doing the series. The Wrap's Tim Molloy meanwhile picked apart her publicist's statement that she was not doing the project "officially." Even the original report wasn't certain: Merrill Barr of Nerdist wrote that, "according to sources, the Zero Dark Thirty actress has been offered a leading role in the second season but has yet to accept."
It speaks to the power of the first season of HBO's anthology show that the internet is getting so riled up about who will take over for Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. This kind of speculative frenzy is par for the course when we're talking about highly anticipated blockbusters—say, Star Wars or one of the Marvel movies—not for prestige television shows. As was the case with most of the Star Wars casting, we don't even know who Chastain or Pitt might be playing, just associating them with the franchise is enough to get Twitter roiling. (Remember, we do know that next season is supposed to be about "secret occult history of the United States transportation system.") It's something that is also unique, so far, to this particular TV show. Sure, a site like Latino Review picked apart who would play The Flash on the upcoming CW show, but a Chastain or Pitt-sized star wasn't involved. Even when high-profile actresses like Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates joined the American Horror Story franchise, there wasn't the kind of fantasy-casting feeding frenzy like there's been for True Detective, mostly because the public isn't aware that there are roles to be filled.