‘Big Little Lies’ Cast on a ‘Deeper, Darker’ But ‘Just as Funny’ Season 2
It’s not everyday that a limited series gets a second season order and that’s what sets HBO’s Big Little Lies apart from its predecessors.
The drama about a suburban community in Monterey, California, will return June 9, picking up soon after where we left off in the first season finale. Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz), Jane (Shailene Woodley) and Renata (Laura Dern) continue to reel from the event that ties them together — Perry Wright’s (Alexander Skarsgard) death. And joining the mix this time around is none other than Meryl Streep as Perry’s mother, Mary Louise.
The stars were out in full force for the series’ Season 2 premiere in New York City and TV Insider was on hand to learn any and everything we could about the new episodes. Below we’re rounding up the big little secrets the cast spilled to us ahead of the show’s return this June.
Enduring Source Material
Season 1 of the series centered on Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name, with the belief that it would be the only set of episodes to air. But when HBO ordered a second round, Moriarty was initially reluctant to participate. Ultimately, she tells us, she had so many ideas rattling in her head she couldn’t resist.
“Eventually I sort of got caught up in coming up with ideas and so they convinced me to write – I basically wrote a 50,000-word novella and then [showrunner] David E. Kelley took it from there,” the author explains. “So I just handed it over in exactly the same way I handed over the book.”
As for a possible third season, that’s another story entirely. “I’d still love to see it, I never want anything to end,” Moriarty says. “I’m not the sort of person who watches a show and thinks it should stop, I think ‘keep going forever,’ but I think I’m done from my involvement. I’m busy writing my next novel.”
As for Season 2, you can bank on the episodes still having Moriarty’s tone. “I think it’s deeper and darker and more complex than Season 1 but just as funny,” she teases. “So everything you love and even more.”
Expect more female-forward moments in Season 2, as well, as the show continues to set a precedent. “I’ve never really had that opportunity in my career,” star and executive producer Reese Witherspoon tells reporters of working in the large female ensemble.
“Laura [Dern] and Nicole [Kidman] and I were looking around going, ‘I can’t believe we have so many scenes together, so many lines with each other, that we’re exploring our relationships,'” she continues before adding, “And so hopefully that will bring more shows that do the same.”
More Drama at Otter Bay
The ladies of Monterey are all linked by their children, who attend the local elementary school. “When you drop your kid off at school, you’re dropping your heart… so you’re hoping that everyone at school loves your heart… and sometimes things go awry and emotions arise,” P.J. Byrne says of the school which he helms as Principal Nippal in the series. “You know, when your heart’s out everything’s very raw. It’s a raw season,” he teases.
As for the tykes who dealt with their own drama in Season 1, “good stuff is happening,” says Chloe Coleman, who plays Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) and Nathan’s (James Tupper) daughter, Skye. “There’s many twists and turns this in this season.”
And what about Amabella (Ivy George)? Renata’s (Dern) daughter had been experiencing some abuse reportedly at the hands of one of Celeste’s (Kidman) sons. Will her storyline be resolved this season or is more trouble ahead? “She has a little bit [of trouble],” says George, “not too much [though].”
Madeline’s (Witherspoon) youngest daughter Chloe (Darby Camp) is still up to her usual antics, though. “She is the same little sassy troublemaker she’s always been,” teases Camp. “She does get a little sad when her parents start to fight a little bit, but she’s basically the same. She’s obsessed with Twitter and she still loves music.”
And as for the show’s latest addition, the consensus was clear — Meryl Streep brought her A-game. “Watching Meryl, the amazing actress she is, it was very exciting to work with her – it was a real honor,” said Coleman of sharing scenes with the veteran. Camp echoed Coleman’s sentiments as she added, “[Ms. Meryl] is just the sweetest ever – so down to earth and so nurturing to all of the kids.”
Meet the Newbies
The cast has grown by more than just Streep, as Crystal Fox (The Haves and the Have Nots) and Poorna Jagannathan (The Night Of) joined the large ensemble for Season 2.
Fox, who is set to play Bonnie’s mom, Elizabeth Howard, remained tight lipped but spilled some teasers about her story. After Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) death, Bonnie’s dealing with her part in it. “Can you imagine if you endured something like that?” Fox asks. “You want your parents to show up, and… [Elizabeth] shows up to say ‘What’s going on?'”
“She’s probably not fine until she sees her parents and you just watch how they discuss that,” she continues. As for the nature of Bonnie’s parents, the question of whether they’re as environmentally conscious or as free-spirited as their daughter remains. “You either see where she got some of it from or all of it or you’ll say ‘Oh, she chose this in opposition to oppose it’ or you’ll say ‘Oh, she’s a good blend of all of that’ [Laughs], ” Fox promises.
As for why HBO has kept everyone so tight-lipped about the new season, Fox says, “I realize how much more they’re saving to tell… There is so much drama and it’s so rich, but because from the minute my character enters, you’ll understand the complication.”
And Jagannathan was even more secretive about her character, Katie Richardson. “My character comes into the last three episodes of the season when Celeste’s life has taken a turn even worse than it was before. My character steps in during that particular time,” she hints. “So, it’s trying to get Celeste out of the weeds.”
Don’t expect things to get better for Celeste, either. “Season 1 we saw kind of the rock bottom for people. Season 2, be prepared to find out that rock bottom was false and there’s an even greater bottom waiting,” says Jagannathan.
Despite Perry’s demise, Celeste will continue to see her therapist Dr. Amanda Reisman (Robin Weigert), and even though she may be sitting on the couch alone, her dead husband’s presence looms large. “I don’t think when there’s been a death that that person who has died ceases to exist in the patient ever. So there really are still two, there isn’t just one anytime you’re talking with someone who is bereaved,” says Weigert.
As for how that will effect Celeste, “I like to think of the second season having the quality of Greek tragedy, which is to say once certain forces are in motion, there’s this progress towards a certain kind of climax… if you plop in the mother-in-law [Streep] — the mother of the deceased — it’s going to ratchet it up that much further.”
When we asked Weigert if anyone else might be joining Celeste on the therapy couch this season, she wouldn’t say, but we’re hoping that there could be a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law session before the season’s up.
Celeste’s relationship with Perry isn’t the only one explored — Jeffrey Nordling, who plays Renata’s husband Gordon, spoke candidly about his character’s story and offered a forecast for Monterey’s couples. “Let’s say it might be a bit of a midlife crisis,” he says of his character. “Combine that with a wife who has been dealing with this giant thing for a year and has been trying to suppress it, it makes for a kind of a volatile relationship.”
And no one else seems to be safe. “Every relationship really gets put through the ringer this season. It’s a ride,” he says.
Big Little Lies, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, June 9, 9/8c, HBO