Hoosier in Hollywood: Actress Ashley Hinshaw Talks ‘True Detective’

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Actress Ashley Hinshaw always wanted to be an actress. Even when she hit it big with Abercrombie & Fitch as a model, she was thinking about a career in Hollywood. That determination, as well as some luck in the form of a judging gig on MTV’s Made and a cameo in Gossip Girl playing herself, has resulted in very steady work for the La Porte, Indiana native. Hinshaw worked with Christian Slater and Miley Cyrus in her first film roles. She turned heads as a troubled woman who enters the San Francisco porn industry in About Cherry.

Also: Watch a New Trailer For True Detective Season 2

But Hinshaw’s first big Hollywood blockbuster ($126 million at the box office) was the low-budget, found-footage superhero action flick, Chronicle, which also happened to catapult Michael B. Jordan to the A-List. The actress has been busy of late. She can be seen on Blu-ray and DVD in the 20th Century Fox horror flick, The Pyramid, which she shot in Morocco. This summer, she’s starring as a troubled starlet Lacey Lindel alongside Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams in the highly anticipated second season of HBO’s True Detective. It’s her second stint at HBO, having worked on the seventh season of True Blood.

In this exclusive interview, Hinshaw, who is currently filming the period boxing movie, Pep, talks about her uncanny good luck in Hollywood.

What have you learned going from modeling to acting, working with people like Miley Cyrus, James Franco, and Christian Slater over the years?

The really great thing is when I moved to New York at 16 it was to model, but it wasn’t because I was seeking out a career in the fashion business. It’s just because I was scouted in Indiana, and it was a ticket out of the Midwest. I always wanted to act, so when I was modeling I was taking acting classes and plotting my transition. It was interesting. As a model I felt like I was always being more theatrical, or bringing in even just in my head a story to the thing, or a character. So I was really happy when I finally transitioned from that world and got to work with such cool people that were so successful at what they did. My first movie was with Miley and it really threw me into a world that I had only seen from the outside. And it was the same thing with James. I got very lucky, very early on working with people like them that were very inclusive and very welcoming.

Can you talk a little bit about your next movie, Pep?

That is a project that’s really cool. It’s a biopic of a boxer from the ‘60s. And as much as I really love genre films, I really love period pieces. It’s going to really be a cool opportunity to play a stereotypical woman who’s dealing with the issues that women dealt with back in the older days. But what I am most excited about is the second season of True Detective, which I was lucky enough to be a part of. That’s coming out this summer. I loved the first one so much, so I’m so excited to be part of the second.

What was it like stepping into that HBO series after all of critical and commercial praise of the first season?

Yeah, I was so intimidated. I’m not usually nervous to work on something because by that point you’ve already been validated by somebody saying, “We think you’re the best for this role, we’d like to hire you.” But on True Detective I was just terrified. Luckily, I got on the set and it’s HBO, so I’ve done a few projects on HBO before so I knew almost everybody on the crew, which instantly made me feel really comfortable. And the people I was working with are so nice. I had the opportunity to play a character that’s very different than myself, which is always exciting. So I could really hide behind a character that I developed and not worry about playing my true self.

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What impact did working on True Blood have on giving you a fan base out there that recognizes you?

As a young actress it was so amazing because I’ve been lucky to be working consistently since I moved to LA. But to get on a project that has such a massive fan base is very unique. Luckily, people really have been positive about my character on that show because that is a dedicated fan base. If they didn’t like me, they would honestly call me out on that. I was such a big fan of that show before I joined it. And I had a lot of friends on the show. So my only regret is that I came on so late. I wish there was more I could have done.

What’s the camaraderie like on set when you’re filming a True Blood or True Detective?

I’ve always come onto these projects after the core group. Like in True Blood they had a group that was so solid by the time that I joined, and True Detective was very much the same way. I came in very late into the season, so I’ve been really lucky by having the people still be open to making me feel like I’m one of the gang and stuff. And both of those projects filmed here in LA, so there wasn’t a whole lot of hanging out off set because we were shooting super long hours and people were working really hard. But I loved being on location and working because I feel like you really do bond with the people that you’re working with. Like when we shot The Pyramid, we were in Morocco and we’re in the middle of nowhere. So we all became super good friends by the end of it because there was no one else to spend any time with.

Where would you like to see Chronicle go if they make a sequel?

I would love to see it go forward just because as an audience member I really loved the film, apart from being in it. But I think they definitely have their challenges. Two of the three main characters were killed off in the first film. But it’s SciFi, so you could always bring anybody back from the dead. I have heard so many different ideas of what they could potentially do as a sequel, and I just hope that they do one because I think people are such big fans of that film and there’s definitely a life for it if it wants to continue.

Have you ever attended Comic-Con?

No, I have not yet. We didn’t go for Chronicle. Whatever stage we filmed it and the movie came out we kind of missed the opportunity, and with True Blood, they have such a massive cast and nobody knew who I was yet, so I certainly didn’t go before the premiere of the last season. So it’s actually something that I’m really terrified about. I’ve heard really freaky stories and just really intense stories about Comic-Con, and it certainly doesn’t seem like necessarily my crowd. But I do really want to experience it someday, so it will be interesting.