Streep, Kidman And Witherspoon Reveal Why They Decided The 'Big Little Lies' Saga Should Continue
Streep, Kidman And Witherspoon Reveal Why They Decided The ‘Big Little Lies’ Saga Should Continue
It seems more than appropriate that the Grand Dame of the big screen take on this role. After all, she and the character she plays share a unique name.
“My real name is Mary Louise, so yeah, I had an in,” says Meryl Streep about stepping into the second season of HBO’s hit drama series Big Little Lies. On the series, she portrays Mary Louise Wright.
Joining the 3-time Oscar winner on BLL are fellow Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, Oscar nominee Shailene Woodley, and 4-time Golden Globe winner Laura Dern. Dern also picked up an Emmy for her role in season one of BLL. Zoe Kravitz rounds out that cast of female leads.
In the BLL world, these women – Witherspoon’s Maddie, Kidman’s Celeste, Woodley’s Jane, Kravitz’ Bonnie and Dern’s Renata – are often referred to as the Monterey Five.
Now, with the addition of Streep, make that six.
Kidman is convinced that when the author of the source material, Liane Moriarty, named the character Mary Louise, she was sending a subliminal message to Ms. Streep. Meryl is not entirely convinced that this is the case.
Nonetheless, Streep is all in for the next series of episodes.
She admits that she was a huge fan of the series before she ever became part of it. “I was addicted to it,” she says. “I thought it was an amazing exercise in what we know and what we don’t know about people; about family, about friends, how it flirted with the mystery of things. What was unsaid, unshown, unknown was the gravitational pull of the piece.”
Based on the best-seller by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies weaves a dark tale of murder and mischief in the tranquil beachfront town of Monterey, Calif. (hence, the aforementioned label of The Monterey Five.)
Amidst doting moms, successful husbands, beautiful children, and stunning homes, exists a community fueled by a plethora rumors as fractured relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and friends and neighbors abound.
Season one ended with a violent death, the aftermath of which will ripple throughout the ensuing narrative..
Because of the seemingly closed ended nature of season one, there was speculation that the series wouldn’t move forward, but Kidman says a desire amongst the actresses to work together again fueled the fire for another go-around. “And, there was an enormous demand from the audience,” she adds.
Series writer David E. Kelley says that everyone felt there was still a lot of fertile storytelling ground to be mined. “Last season, we really didn’t close the chapter,” he explains. “It ended on a very open note — will the lie have a life, will it have a malignancy, what will it do to the equation of these friends, these relationships, the marriage?”
But, he admits that some trepidation crept in. “The question for us was, ‘is the storytelling going to be compelling enough that it will rise up to the first year?’ We didn’t want to do this unless we could at least have a fair shot of living up to the bar. So, we didn’t finally agree to set sail until we had the commitment, from all of us, that this was storytelling that we all felt passionate about.”
Without giving any specific plotlines away, Kelley offers a bit about what viewers will see. “When we come back, their lives seem very well put together on the surface, but then the fissures and the fractures begin to emerge. And there is a big fault line that lies under all of it, once the crevices start to widen, it escalates pretty quickly.”
Telling this story Kelley says, required a lot of writing, rewriting, and tweaking but that that’s all part of the process. “My favorite quote from a writer would be Robert Frost. He said, ‘No tears for the writer. No tears for the reader.’ Which means, if you don’t feel it, don’t expect your viewing constituency to feel it.”
Witherspoon, who initially acquired the book and serves as an executive producer on the series, says that in that role, she would get, “very concerned about logistics and schedules and wanting to accommodate people and help facilitate their ideas. And, I think more than anything, the fun part of being a producer is just getting to dig in with everybody about what they wanted out of the experience”
Talking about if the series, which has themes of abuse, trauma and recovery, benefited from the timing of the #MeToo movement, Streep remarked, “I’m not sure what comes first, the chicken or the egg. I’m not sure if a piece doesn’t meet its moment because there’s an incipient awareness, or a readiness, or the nerve endings are open to explore these issues. This exploration of abuse and its provenance, where it comes from, why it continues, how people survive it, all those questions were in the air and this piece fed something that was a hunger.”
The actress, who got her start on television, but has primarily worked in films for the past several decades, feels that TV, “has sort of always been a women’s medium, because at first it was trying to sell women things. [Women] were at home watching commercials, and so television was interested in what women wanted. [Now], with women’s voices more included — not anywhere near what they should be — but people are understanding that this drives the market, actually”
As for whether there will be a third season, Kidman, also an executive producer on the project, says, “There’s no plan for it specifically. It was a long shoot for us, and it an enormous amount of work. We’re just amazed that we can be here And, the success of the first one was so massive so, we go, ‘Okay, let’s jump off the cliff.’ But, at the same time, [season two] is its own entity and hopefully it will be taken in that way. It was definitely made with an enormous amount of love.”
‘Big Little Lies’ airs Sundays at 9e/8c on HBO.