True Detective’s Abigail Spencer talks about Playing a Strong Woman


It would be difficult to point to True Detective season two as another example of poorly defined female characters. It’s obvious that Nic Pizzolatto took some of the criticism of the first season to heart, and that’s how we ended with great characters such as Ani Bezzerides, Jordan Semyon, and Frank Velcoro’s ex-wife, Gena Brune.

More from HBO

Abigail Spencer sat down with Flavor Wire to discuss her career, including her work as Gena in True Detective. The piece is more of an overall look at Abigail Spencer’s work, so True Detective is not exactly the focus. Still, Spencer has some interesting things to say about her work on True Detective. 

According to Spencer, her and Nic Pizzolatto came to something of an understanding about Gena:

"“[TD creator Nic Pizzolatto] and I were very clear together that Gena is someone who is helping other rape victims…She is not a victim. She has really worked through this, and is very empowered by what happened. But she’s not pretending it’s not awful.”"

We don’t spend a lot of time with Abigail Spencer’s character in True Detective, but she does come across as strong and well-adjusted. If anything, it’s Ray that hasn’t been able to move past what happened. It’s part of what divides the two characters.

Still, Spencer isn’t unsympathetic to Ray’s plight, saying that she is “rooting for Ray to prevail.” She also spent hours working over Gena’s back story with Pizzolatto, an exercise in which she has put to great use:

"“Nic knows everybody’s backstory inside and out, so that was such a gift…I really focused on a lot of the positive in [Gena and Ray’s] life before. Because the show is exploring so much of the negative. I really do think they were the love of each other’s life. I think they’re both devastated that they lost each other.”"

There’s a lot of history between Ray and Gena that we don’t get to see, but the scenes that the two share together feel important and not contrived. You can read the entire interview over at Flavor Wire, especially if you’re interested in Abigail Spencer’s other work, especially in shows like Rectify.

Next: Let's talk about the preview for True Detective episode six.