‘True Detective: Night Country’ Star Kali Reis on Theories About Her Character’s Fate — and Whether She Plans to Return to Boxing

HBO broadcast its first women’s boxing bout, between Kali Reis and Cecilia Brækhus, in 2018. Just six years later, Reis is one of the stars on HBO’s “True Detective: Night Country,” where she plays Detective Evangeline Navarro alongside Jodie Foster. That could very well be the first time any HBO lead was first seen on the pay cabler in a boxing match.

“What’s really great about this whole journey is that things that are so far fetched are like not impossible in some part of my brain that understands that it’s a possibility,” Reis tells Variety‘s Awards Circuit Podcast. “And I think that’s one of the many things that keeps me grinding so hard.”

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In the series, Reis plays Evangeline Navarro, a half-Dominican state trooper in Ennis, a fictional town in rural northern Alaska. Reis spoke to the Awards Circuit Podcast about her interpretation of the ending and whether she thinks Navarro is still alive. Listen below!

“Catch the Fair One,” which follows a young Native American woman trying to find her younger sister in a sex trafficking ring, was the first film Reis had ever starred in. She says Josef Kubota Wladyka, writer and director of the movie, reached out to her because of her advocacy for missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Reis, who is Indigenous and Black, says boxing, at that time, wasn’t feeling like an outlet for her. She was pondering picking up acting, and felt that if it was meant for her, it would find her. Then, a week later, Wladyka sent her a DM on Instagram asking her if she had ever thought about pursuing acting.

“He kept telling me, ‘you got that something, you got that sauce K,'” Reis says of Wladyka. “…It was something he saw in me and I saw him seeing that.”

Reis’ character on “True Detective” is somewhat estranged from her Native Iñupiaq heritage, since she lost her mother at a young age. Navarro and Detective Liz Danvers (Foster) investigate the disappearance of scientists at a local research station, with Navarro being plagued by flashbacks to her time serving in combat overseas. Her prior experiences align with the reality facing her younger sister Julia (Aka Niviâna).

Reis said Navarro’s background helped her relate to the character, who she felt was “walking in two different worlds.”

Of Foster, she said: “(Working with Foster) is like being able to train with Marvin Hagler in his prime. There’s no better person that I’ve could have learned from this early on…She’s just amazing human.”

Reis is currently working on a film titled “Mercy” alongside Chris Pratt and Rebecca Ferguson. But is she ready to return to boxing? “I haven’t hung them up officially yet. I will always be in the gym,” she says. “I’ll always be involved in boxing, even outside of the ring commentating or coaching. My husband’s a manager and we coach fighters together. Acting is in the driver’s seat right now. The only way I’ll hop back in that ring is if something makes sense, if it comes at the right time, the right fighter. It may or may not happen but I’m not forcing it.”

Also in this episode, “Mr. Monk’s Last Case” star Tony Shalhoub discusses why the time was right to bring back “Monk” and how that ending could very well set up more movies. He also chatted about how much he misses “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the action film he’s shooting next, his success with awards and much more.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.

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