Tanya Tagaq on making her acting debut in True Detective: Night Country

Q20:51Tanya Tagaq: True Detective, the brilliance of Jodie Foster, and creating the series’ score

Most people who land their very first acting job don’t get to debut alongside an American screen legend like Jodie Foster — unless you’re Tanya Tagaq, that is.

The award-winning Inuk throat singer was approached to provide music for the soundtrack of True Detective: Night Country, the fourth season of the HBO anthology series, and was unexpectedly offered a small part. Tagaq has kept the details about her character under wraps in an effort to avoid spoilers, though it’s known that she appears briefly in three scenes.

In a conversation with Q‘s Tom Power, Tagaq says she happily accepted the role, but felt a bit nervous about trying something new. It wasn’t until she saw Foster in action that she decided she’d definitely like to do more acting in the future.

“That is what lit the fire under my ass to want to do it more,” Tagaq says about Foster’s acting prowess.

“The camera started rolling and I got shivers from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet because [Jodie] transformed. I’m sorry, I can almost hardly talk about it because it just blew my mind!”

Set in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska, the latest installment of True Detective stars Foster as a hardened cop who’s trying to solve a number of murders and disappearances. Supernatural phenomena are common in this town, as every winter, it’s plunged into the endless darkness that’s typical of the colder months near the Arctic Circle.

WATCH | Official trailer for True Detective: Night Country:

While Tagaq can’t go into much detail about the plot — “I have to stop myself,” she tells Power, “because I really, really, really am excited for people to see what happens” — she can discuss her contributions to the score.

The Inuk singer-songwriter says she started by recording in a studio in Iceland with music supervisor Susan Jacobs before flying to London to work with series composer Vince Pope.

“We had a lot of fun,” says Tagaq. “They’d play the scene that they wanted me on, they had a screen, and I would react to what was on the screen.”

Tagaq says reacting to what she saw on the screen was less about thinking than it was about feeling.

“Nothing that you can put in front of me can make me feel any more passionately, or more pain, than the reality of things I’ve witnessed or seen or felt before,” she says. “There are many things in reality to be more upset about than fiction … I just look at the image and I make the sound that I feel. And that’s what improvisation is, right? So that’s always how I’ve worked.”

The full interview with Tanya Tagaq is available on our podcast, Q with Tom Power. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Interview with Tanya Tagaq produced by Mitch Pollock.

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