Mahershala Ali Says New 'True Detective' Season Is 'Grueling' But 'Special' (Exclusive)

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No pain, no gain! 

Fans have high expectations for the upcoming season of True Detective, and according to Mahershala Ali, it's going to deliver. 

"I'm excited for people to see... everyone's work and commitment," he told ET's Lauren Zima at the 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Awards, sponsored by American Express, on Thursday. "It was a grueling shoot, and I mean it in the most positive [way]." 

The Oscar winner stars in the HBO anthology series as Wayne Hays, an Arkansas detective haunted by a case from his past. Like the series' first season, which starred Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, True Detective's season three will follow Ali's character through several periods of his life, with time jumps as he reflects on a case involving two missing kids in the Ozarks in the 1980s. 

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Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

"It was a difficult shoot, but I think we really kind of stuck together and I think we did something special. I really do," he told ET. "And I'm so proud to be a part of that story, and to have had that opportunity, so I'm really looking forward to people seeing that." 

When asked to describe the season in one word, Ali couldn't help but use two: "Dense! Epic!" he shouted. 

True Detective premieres on Jan. 13, but at Thursday's awards show, Ali was all about his film, The Green Book, where he, co-star Viggo Mortensen and director Peter Farrelly accepted the Vanguard Award from Jim Carrey. 

"[It's] awesome I didn't know [Carrey was presenting us with the award]," Ali confessed. "He's a genius and an old friend of Pete Farrelly, our director, so that's amazing. It's an honor."

See more on Ali in the video below. 

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