The HBO ensemble drama, co-starring Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, won five Emmys Sunday.
Are you here for the Nicole Kidman circus?”
This is how a clipboard-bearing woman greeted guests at HBO’s Emmys after-party on Sunday evening. Sure, Big Little Lies collected five total wins earlier that night for stars Kidman, Laura Dern, and Alexander Skarsgård; director Jean-Marc Vallée; and the show itself in the limited-series category (a prize that was accepted by executive producers Reese Witherspoon and Kidman).
But judging by the sheer flashbulb density surrounding her, Kidman was the big little belle of the ball, as she posed with her two statuettes for photographers and kissed husband Keith Urban. (Urban was never far from Kidman all evening—holding her clutch as she talked to reporters backstage at the ceremony, and holding her hand and at least one Emmy the entirety of the after-party.) Kidman and Urban snaked their way through well-wishers to their assigned table, adjacent to co-star Witherspoon’s, in the moodily lit courtyard of the Pacific Design Center. Before Kidman sunk into a banquette, where she could sit-dance to music and feed her husband hors d’oeuvres, she was greeted by Ava Phillippe, Witherspoon’s 18-year-old daughter. Phillippe and Kidman hugged and shared a seemingly meaningful, several-minute conversation—eyes locked, holding each other by the arms.
Nearby, Laura Dern chatted with fellow nominee Michelle Pfeiffer—who is married to Big Little Lies writer David E. Kelley—before catching up with Ava Phillippe herself. As for Witherspoon and Kidman, they found each other to pose for a photograph, but otherwise held court in separate areas. (At one point Witherspoon’s husband, Jim Toth, was overheard asking, “Where’s Nicole?” to a man who responded, “Last time I saw her she was over there,” pointing to where she had been standing 10 minutes prior.) Co-stars Zoë Kravitz and Shailene Woodley were not seen at the after-party, dashing hopes of an all-cast champagne-glasses-in-hand after-party picture.
Kidman stayed at the party for about half an hour before leaving. On her way out, she was approached by admirers from every angle, almost all asking for a selfie. (Kidman, overheard describing the night as “a dream,” obliged in all cases.) Shortly thereafter, Kidman’s on-screen husband and fellow Emmy winner Alexander Skarsgård arrived and was similarly swarmed. Jack McBrayer (better known as “Kenneth the Page” from 30 Rock) looked elated to see Skarsgård as the two embraced like long-lost relatives reunited after years apart. Fellow Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman seemed thrilled for Skarsgård as well, and the two very tall men both (literally) stood out of the crowd as they caught up. At the Governors Ball earlier in the night, Skarsgård let friends pose for photos with his Emmy, near the Fiji Water station. When asked whether he had received an avalanche of congratulatory texts and e-mails since his win, the actor admitted, “I haven’t even turned on my phone.”
On Friday night, at the Variety Women in Film Emmys pre-party, Skarsgård—rocking a mustache that only an Alexander Skarsgård could manage to pull off—said that he and the Big Little Lies cast have kept in touch since the show stopped filming via a WhatsApp group. Since Skarsgård’s character, Perry—spoiler alert, for the three of you who have still not watched Big Little Lies out there—dies at the end of the first season, one would think he would not be involved in a potential second season. When these reporters brought up that point to the actor, Skarsgård just flashed a devilish grin. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that!” he said.
On Sunday evening, after collecting their Emmys but before hitting the party circuit, the Big Little Lies cast brought their shiny statuettes backstage and fielded questions from the press.
Witherspoon continued the sentiments shared in her acceptance speech, saying, “The fact that we created four roles for women [who] are the heroes of their own stories, that is the real watershed for me. They are complicated and complex, good and bad.”
Kidman spoke more about her character’s struggle with domestic abuse, saying, “That is what we do as actors . . . we are meant to do things that disturb us sometimes.” After a beat, she noted that she did just complete filming on a palate cleanser: “I just finished doing Aquaman, which did not disturb me.”
When Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty was asked what inspired Perry, Skarsgård’s abusive character, the writer replied, “It came from a really horrible ex-boyfriend who I took great pleasure in killing off . . . first in the book and then in the series.”
Wielding her two Emmys, Kidman said that the experience has allowed her more intimacy with her audience than ever before in her career—since she appeared in people’s homes each week.
Kidman, with her two Emmys, and Witherspoon, with her one, took turns at the microphone—which provided a bit of a technical challenge given their height difference. When a journalist who could not hear Witherspoon indelicately told the actress to lower the mic, the actress lamented, “I feel so short in so many ways today.”
One thing that the cast was reluctant to discuss in all of the frenzied champagne fervor: a potential Season 2.
“We are thinking about it, talking about it, but nothing definitive yet,” said Witherspoon backstage.
“I mean, we love playing these roles,” added Kidman. “Their story lines are so complex and interesting and it would be fantastic if we can continue them. But right now we are just savoring this moment because this is amazing.”
Earlier in the evening, Laura Dern told press that the future of the show is entirely up to Moriarty, who wrote the best-selling novel on which the series was based. When Moriarty made her way backstage, reporters asked the Australian author if she is indeed writing a future for her beloved characters.
“I’m thinking about it,” she teased. “It’s a beautiful possibility.”