While you wait for the second season, here are some surprising facts from the set of the electrifying show.
Warning: spoilers ahead for the first season of “Big Little Lies.”
In the original novel, the story took place in Australia.
In the novel version of “Big Little Lies,” the plot is set in a beach side town on the coast of Australia while the HBO adaptation is set in Monterey Bay, California. In an interview with Elle author Liane Moriarty revealed that she welcomed the change in setting for the show.
“Over the years, readers have often written to me commenting on how playground politics are the same the world over,” Moriarty said. “I thought the Californian setting was beautiful and very similar to the Australian setting I’d imagined. In a way, I think changing the setting helped me ‘let go,’ which I think every author has to do when their work is adapted. If it had been set in Australia, I might have resisted changes to the book, which I’ve always known and understood were necessary in an adaptation.”
Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are best friends in real life.
- Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
Although their respective characters may hate each other on the show, Witherspoon and Dern couldn’t be closer in real life. They became best friends after playing mother and daughter in the biopic “Wild.”
Vanity Fair interviewed Dern in 2017 while she was on a joint vacation with Witherspoon’s family and the actress elaborated on their powerful connection. “We told the New York Times how our mothers got so mad because we had fallen so in love and had such a beautiful experience making ‘Wild,'” joked Dern. “And when they saw ‘Big Little Lies’, they were so mad at us at first for being so rude to each other.”
Dern also revealed that the entire cast has become fast friends outside of the show. “Yesterday, [Reese and I] were texting with the other girls,” said Dern. “We FaceTimed with Shailene yesterday. We all remain close, and I can’t believe our very good fortune in finding each other and forming this friendship. Between filming and all of the press afterward, it feels like these actresses and I have spent two and a half years together.”
Some of the show’s best lines are taken directly from the book.
Although much of the material for the television show featured original writing, certain scenes from Moriarty’s novel were so powerful and witty that the show adapted them word for word.
“One [scene] in particular was Celeste’s therapy session-even the therapist’s office was exactly as I had described it in the book, and there were a number of lines straight from the page,” Moriarty disclosed to Elle. “I also especially enjoyed seeing Reese deliver the line about ‘tending to her grudges like little pets.’ I keep replaying that over and over. She delivers it with exquisite comic timing, as she does all her lines.”
Skarsgård found the role of Perry “completely emotionally draining.”
- Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO
Following the finale, Skarsgård told the Hollywood Reporter that playing Perry Wright was one of the most challenging acting roles of his career yet.
“The [abusive] scenes were emotionally and physically so draining,” said Skarsgard. “They’re incredibly hard to shoot. We played the whole scene from beginning to end. We weren’t restricted by any tape marks on the floor or any technical issues. It was very primal in a way and some of the toughest scenes I’ve ever had to shoot.”
Witherspoon considered playing Renata, Laura Dern’s role.
While the first season was still airing, Witherspoon admitted to Vogue that she didn’t originally see herself in the role of Madeline Martha MacKenzie.
“I didn’t know who I was going to play. Nicole [Kidman] really wanted to play Celeste, but I don’t know, I thought for a minute I might have played Renata,” said Witherspoon, who is also an executive producer on the show. “But then I was in a meeting with David Kelley and Nicole and I said I didn’t know who I was going to play and they looked at me like I was crazy. They said, ‘You’re Madeline!’ And I said, ‘I am? What do you mean?’ And they were like, ‘You are very clearly Madeline.'”
Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon have teamed up to adapt another Moriarty novel.
After working on “Big Little Lies” together and falling in love with Moriarty’s source material, Kidman and Witherspoon acquired the film rights to Moriarty’s other novel “Truly Madly Guilty” in 2016.
The novel is a family drama that takes place at an Australian barbecue when something goes awry. According to Variety, the story “explores the most fundamental relationships – marriage, parenthood, and friendship – and how easy it is to take those dynamics for granted. The story takes place over a weekend, among six adults and three kids.”
Netflix and HBO were in a bidding war over the series.
Before “Big Little Lies” found its home at HBO, the project was hotly contested in a bidding war between streaming services. According to Vulture, Netflix was a front-runner to option the series until HBO closed the deal.
“We just had the book, we had Reese, David [E. Kelley], and I, and that was it,” Kidman said in an interview with Vogue when asked how it felt to be pursued by multiple networks. “It was kind of amazing to feel the interest-that’s what happens when women combine their powers. If I’d gone by myself to try and do it, it wouldn’t have worked.”
“Big Little Lies” is only Reese Witherspoon’s third foray into television.
As she sat down to discuss “Big Little Lies” with Entertainment Weekly, Witherspoon revealed that her portrayal of the feisty Madeline Martha Mackenzie is only the third character that she’s played on television. The actress is mostly known for her film work on the silver screen, including movies like “Legally Blonde,” “Walk the Line,” and “Wild.”
“Yeah, this is the only thing I’ve ever done!” Witherspoon laughed. “I’ve never done TV before, other than being Jennifer Aniston’s sister on ‘Friends’ and [doing] a Lifetime movie when I was 15.”
Adam Scott insisted on growing a beard to play Ed.
In an interview with Seth Meyers on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” Adam Scott, who plays Madeline’s husband Ed MacKenzie on the show, revealed that he insisted on growing a beard for the show.
“The show takes place in Monterey and I grew up in Santa Cruz which is right nearby, so I insisted to the director, ‘I know this guy, he’s a stay-at-home dad, he has a beard and wears fleece vests,” the “Parks and Recreation” star joked. “And then we shot the show for six months and I was stuck with this giant beard the whole time.”
Additionally, when Scott was asked what it was like working opposite Witherspoon, he had nothing but praise for his co-star. “She’s a beloved actor, everyone knows how great she is,” Scott told Meyers. “But when you’re there working with her, doing scenes with her, it just felt like you were watching a really great Reese Witherspoon movie.”
Makeup artists helped Shailene Woodley transform for the role of Jane.
When Women’s Wear Daily interviewed Claudia Humburg, one of the makeup artists for “Big Little Lies,” Humburg talked about the challenge of de-beautifying Woodley for her role as Jane.
“Jane is not the pretty beauty, the put-together one,” Humburg explained. “She has no money or time to get her makeup ready or pay attention to it. My job for the character was actually to make her look not good. I had to enhance her tiredness, sadness, and anger.”
“Also, Shailene is a very healthy, happy person who exercises every day,” Humburg added. “She came into the makeup trailer looking very fresh and good-looking. When she left the makeup trailer, she looked more pale, sad and darker under the eyes. That was very exciting, actually.”
Perry is back for the second season, but possibly not alive.
- Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO
In addition to all of the main cast returning Alexander Skarsgård is expected to appear again as Perry, who was presumed dead at the end of season one. As of January 2018, prior to filming season two, Skarsgard admitted to People that “he didn’t even know if he was really dead or not,” but in later casting announcements, it appears he will be dead.
Meryl Streep will play Celeste’s mother-in-law in the second season.
- Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
According to Entertainment Weekly, acclaimed actress Meryl Streep is set to play Celeste’s mother-in-law Mary Louise Wright in the second season of “Big Little Lies.” Wright is the mother of Celeste’s abusive husband Perry, who met a sickly end in the season one finale. As Streep’s character comes to Monterey Bay to support Celeste, who is still “reeling from her husband Perry’s death … but determined to fight for her family and find the woman she once was.”
While filming the second season, Woodley told Us Weekly that she could barely contain her excitement while sharing a set with Streep. “She’s fantastic. She’s as lovely as you would assume her to be,” Woodley gushed. “It’s bananas, working with Meryl.”
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