The actresses reveal the secrets of their new exciting US drama
Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman tell TV Magazine what we need to know about Big Little Lies
1 Based on the bestselling novel by Australian writer Liane Moriarty, this TV adaptation of Big Little Lies was born when avid reader Reese Witherspoon devoured the novel and passed it on to her pal, fellow Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman.
“I met Liane in Sydney and we had coffee,” Nicole recalls. “That’s where I said: ‘If you let us option this book, then I promise you that Reese and I will get this made.’”
2 The seven-part US drama series follows a group of competitive mums whose kids attend an exclusive private school. A murder occurs at a fundraising night, but it is initially unclear to viewers who the victim – or the killer – is. “Everybody has secrets,” Reese, 40, says of the plot. “It’s about how we all hide in plain sight.”
3 The three main characters are: Madeline (Reese), a sunny-yet-sometimes-spiky alpha mum; Celeste (Nicole), an ex-lawyer with a toyboy husband; and Jane (Shailene Woodley), a quiet newcomer who has just moved to the area with her son. The cast also includes Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, Zoë Kravitz and Laura Dern.
4 The pedigree of people behind the scenes is as impressive as those on screen. Ally McBeal creator David E Kelley wrote the scripts, while Oscar-nominated director Jean-Marc Vallée, who worked with Reese on 2014 movie Wild, directed. Reese and Nicole were both executive producers.
5 While the book is set in Australia, the series has relocated to the California beachside city of Monterey. “The show’s storylines are universal, but Jean-Marc felt passionately that it needed to be set in a community near water,” explains Nicole. “And that’s almost like a character in the show now.”
6 As a mum of three herself, Reese really connected to the material. “Reading it, I saw myself in different stages of motherhood,” she reveals. “I was a mom when I was 22, like Jane, then I was a mom at 40, like Madeline. I’ve been divorced, I’ve been remarried… There are so many aspects that are relatable to women’s lives.”
7 Towards the end of episode one, there is a shocking development for Nicole’s character Celeste, and the intense scenes took their toll on the 49-year-old actress. “I would go home, bruised all over,” she says. “My body was really damaged. I’d sit in the bath and cry.”
8 Mum-of-four Nicole won’t be letting her eight-year-old daughter Sunday watch Big Little Lies anytime soon… “She desperately wants to see this series and I am like: ‘No, when you are 18…’”
9 Reese took on this project as she was sick of seeing the “complete lack of interesting characters for women” on screen: “I thought women have bigger stories to tell and if no one is going to develop this material on TV, then I’ll do it myself.”
10 Unlike many actresses her age, Reese doesn’t have a problem with looking older on camera. “I love being 40,” she laughs. “When I saw the first cut of Big Little Lies, I saw that I have wrinkles. However, I love that I have wrinkles and I love that I’ve earned those wrinkles. I worked really hard for them!”