Deadline hosted a ‘For Your Consideration’ panel and Q&A For Big Little Lies on Tuesday, in honour of its impressive 16 Emmy nominations. Reese, Nicole Kidman, Jean-Marc Vallee and Alexander Skarsgaard were in attendance and spoke about how they got the show into production and some of the issues raised within the show. Reese wore a monochrome dress by Oscar de la Renta with Stella Luna shoes. I love seeing the cast together again! We have HQ photos in our Gallery for you, and several videos from the panel and red carpet within this post:
‘Big Little Lies’: How Nicole Kidman Sealed The Deal To Make The HBO Series & Kept The Sex Honest – Emmys
While Reese Witherspoon and her producing partner Bruna Papandrea were the first ones to get their hands on the manuscript of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel Big Little Lies, props were given to Nicole Kidman who “closed the deal and got the option,” Witherspoon said last night at Deadline’s Emmy FYC event for the HBO series.
Witherspoon and Papandrea immediately sent the manuscript to Kidman in Australia, who had the distinct advantage of meeting with Moriarty personally since she’s also an Oz native.
“Every single one of her (Moriarty’s) books are optioned,” said Witherspoon about the challenge in nailing down the rights to Big Little Lies.
Kidman set up a meeting with Moriarty at Fratelli’s cafe in Sydney. And the key words which the Oscar-winning The Hours actress conveyed to clinch the deal was: “‘We’ll get this made. I promise you’ll we’ll make this,’ which is very compelling. People option books and they don’t get made.”
To avoid an auction scenario for the source material, Kidman also advised the author: “You need to say you want us and only us.”
Big Little Lies follows the aftermath and flashbacks of an elementary school-related murder that rocks an affluent enclave of Monterey, CA. At the center of this universe of catty matriarchs are three women: Madeline (Witherspoon), a posh housewife who is cheating on her husband; Celeste (Kidman), a lawyer who is sexually abused by her husband (Alexander Skarsgard); and Jane (Shailene Woodley), a mysterious single mom who has just moved into town with her young boy who is being accused of bullying a rival queen bee mom’s daughter at school.
The series’ focus on the underbelly of upper-middle-class suburbia hit a nerve with viewers and the Television Academy, scoring 16 Primetime Emmy nominations including best limited series, two outstanding actress noms (Witherspoon, Kidman), two supporting actress (Laura Dern, Woodley), supporting actor (Skarsgard), writing (David E. Kelley), and directing (Jean-Marc Vallee). All of them were in attendance last night at Deadline’s Emmy FYC event sans Kelley and Woodley, with Awards Editor and columnist Pete Hammond serving as moderator.
“I’m normally the only woman on a set and on this production I’m looking across at four other women,” said Witherspoon about how the material was rich in opportunities for female actresses. “It’s a gift I’ve never had in my entire career.
“It’s not black and white, it’s grey, and there are people in this room who are navigating these storylines, right now — I will go out on a limb and say that,” Kidman added about how the issues in Big Little Lies resonated with audiences around the globe.
“If (viewers) ask, ‘Why does she stay with him?’ I hope they see at times, and understand, why she is in it. When you look at these relationships, it’s insidious,” said Kidman, reflecting on the psychology of why tormented relationships stay together. “It’s because people always want to make the best of a situation, and look to the good facets that keep a marriage anchor, i.e., kids, status, and the oasis of love.”
“There are a lot of other things that keep you in a place where you shouldn’t be. That’s how I found it be so powerful in the way it was written in the book, then adapted by David and Jean-Marc,” Kidman said.
Celeste is one of Kidman’s most sexually raw performances since Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut in which she starred opposite then-husband Tom Cruise as an upper-class couple whose marriage is laden with fidelity. However, the sex in Big Little Lies is certainly more acerbic than the nude scenes in that 1999 film, given how it’s interwoven into physical fights with Skarsgard’s Perry.
“It was about finding the truth in each of these scenes,” explained Kidman about the graphic moments. It wasn’t uncommon to have discussions about “which way we were having sex, and what they meant ultimately to the storytelling. How does this move the story forward? That’s how I felt about the sex scenes. It couldn’t be any which way because then it becomes exploitative or unnecessary and we’ve seen all of that. It needed to relevant. It’s part of being a human being and what we do, so it has reason to be there, it’s not just there so everyone gets their rocks off.”
In nailing the best drama from this class of actors, Vallee employed a style whereby he shot rehearsals with a handheld camera. From there, it was about discovering each scene’s angle. That m.o. led to such sincere moments as a 10-minute therapy scene led by Robin Weigert as Dr. Reisman with Skarsgard and Kidman; a moment that the latter beams makes television better than film.
“On film, you’d say, ‘We might have to cut this down,’ but here, it’s gold,” said Kidman. Intense fight scenes involved a stunt double in the first sequence, with Kidman stepping in during the second half. Vallee was initially hired to direct the first two episodes of Big Little Lies and wound up directing all seven after Kidman and Witherspoon rallied around him. That’s a rare feat for an EP in television to direct every single episode, the last one arguably being Sam Esmail on his Emmy-winning USA Network series Mr. Robot.
In regards to whether we’ll see a Season 2, a lot of that is up to Moriarty; the author has already been approached by Witherspoon and Kidman. Word is Moriarty wouldn’t necessarily publish another novel, but rather flesh out a story that’s prime for television.
Even if Season 2 doesn’t occur, Witherspoon cherishes what has already been built.
“These are her characters and they were born from her. As of right now, it’s pretty whole. I feel really good about where it is and if this is all there ever was, it’s a beautiful thing we all accomplished together. I feel really great about it. I feels really comprehensive,” said the Oscar winner.
Meanwhile, Skarsgard continues to gun for his involvement in Season 2: “Spoiler alert, did he (Perry) really die?”
EXCLUSIVE: Reese Witherspoon Can’t Believe Daughter Ava Is Turning 18: ‘I Feel Like We Grew Up Together’
Reese Witherspoon has a lot to celebrate this year. Not only did her hit HBO show, Big Little Lies, score eight Emmy nominations – including an Outstanding Lead Actress nod for herself – but her daughter, Ava, is turning 18 in September.
“It’s so weird. I can’t believe she’s 18,” the 41-year-old actress gushed to ET’s Lauren Zima at HBO’s Big Little Lies FYC event at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles on Tuesday. “But she’s great, and we did it together. I feel like we grew up together, it’s great.”
As for any roles she wouldn’t want her children to see, Witherspoon seems pretty open.
“I mean all of them are a labor of love and effort that you put into them,” she said of her many films. “So I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve worked a lot in my life. Actually my very first premiere ever in my entire life was in this building, so it was so funny, when I was 14 years old.”
Ava has already seen her mom in the HBO series, and Witherspoon is proud of the way the show depicts women.
“I felt like none of these women were good or bad, they were all just this, you know, dynamic exploration of what it really means to be a woman now-a-days,” the Oscar winner said.
And with the Emmy Awards coming up in September, Witherspoon doesn’t feel any pressure to pick up trophies.
“I feel like we’ve already won in a certain way,” she explained. “To engage an audience in something that you feel passionately about, to find the book and bring it to the screen with my friend Nicole [Kidman] and just really dig deeper into women’s lives, it’s been incredible response to this show. So I feel like we’ve already gotten everything we could possibly want out of it and the Emmy nominations are just exciting.”
‘Big Little Lies’: Reese Witherspoon Teases Season 2, Fans Still Hate Alexander Skarsgård, and More from the Cast
For all the debate about “Big Little Lies” Season 2, there’s an association from Season 1 that still needs to be addressed: Alexander Skarsgård is not his character, Perry Wright.
“I’m surprised I was invited today,” Skarsgård said during a panel on “Big Little Lies” Tuesday night, which also included Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and director Jean-Marc Vallée. “People did not like me.”
Skarsgård, who played the abusive husband to Kidman’s Celeste Wright, said he was out of the country when the episodes initially aired, and he was not greeted warmly upon his return.
“I was isolated up in Alberta, Canada, so I missed the whole show and everything around it,” he said. “I got back about a month after the series finale, and it was tough. I flew into JFK, got off the plane, and people were like, ‘Oh…’”
“I’m going to die a very lonely man,” he said.
His facetious asides earned a big laugh from the crowd gathered at the Directors Guild of America Theater to listen to the “Big Little Lies” cast and director discuss their work. Talk of a second season, however, faced a more lukewarm reception.
The cast and creators have been hounded about making more episodes of the limited series since it ended, and, though no one has given a definitive answer either way (hence the continued questioning), Witherspoon seemed to be leaning against Season 2.
“I feel like we had such a great experience. We talked about it with Liane Moriarty, and it’s sort of up to [her]. These are her characters. They were born from her.”
“As of right now, I think it’s pretty whole. I feel really good about where it is, and if this is all it ever was, it’s a beautiful thing we all accomplished together,” she said.
“I love these people and where we left them. They’ll always have a connection and they’ll always be together — except for you,” Witherspoon said to Skarsgård, with a smile.
“I’m actually working on a sequel,” he said, jokingly. “You have not seen the last of Perry Wright. Spoiler alert: Did he really die? I don’t know. Did we go to the funeral?”
“Yes,” someone said.
“But did we see him in the casket?” he replied.
Though the spinoff idea was just a joke, the crowd clapped and cheered when the panel was first asked about making a second season. They quickly quieted once Witherspoon wasn’t willing to commit, but they came back around quickly.
The warm reception for Skarsgård indicated those in the room didn’t need to reminded of his personal distance from the character. If fans on the street are giving him second looks for his resemblance to a bad guy on TV, voters aren’t holding it against him. He’s still considered a strong contender to win in his category.
HBO got out in front of final Emmys voting, holding the FYC event led by Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond and featuring four of the nominees: Skarsgård has been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie; Jean-Marc Vallee is up for directing; Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are both competing for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series.
The show itself earned eight total nominations. Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and David E. Kelly — all of whom are nominated — weren’t able to attend the event because they’re working on various other productions.
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