When a series has a cast as stacked with starpower as Big Little Lies, the buzz on the red carpet is something special — especially when the entire existence of a second season is due to overwhelming fan appreciation. “None of this is possible without the fan reaction that we got,” said executive producer and actor Reese Witherspoon. “They really made it a topical conversation; they really took each character into their homes.”
The show that began as a one-and-done limited series, will be back for an encore season on June 16, and its actors, creators and executive producers were thrilled to discuss it at the New York premiere on May 29.
Every one of the “Monterey Five” (as they are being called this season) expressed joy about returning to work with each other. “The fascinating and amazing thing about jumping back into this season was you have so many women around you that you trust,” shared Shailene Woodley. “You know if you falter or something’s not working, you have a team to relax into and a soundboard to reflect honestly and transparently back to you.”
“I’ve never done it before,” said executive producer and actor Nicole Kidman of coming back to do a second season. “Returning to the skin of the character was, in the weirdest way, comforting because I knew what I was in. I always say playing Celeste is like threading a needle because everything about her is interior, and all of her damage is held within.”
Author Liane Moriarty, whose book was the inspiration for Season 1, went back to the drawing board to create a short novella that was used as the jumping-off point for Season 2. “It was exciting to imagine what happens next,” she said. She, like so many others, is thrilled for audiences to be introduced to new character Mary-Louise, played by Meryl Streep. Moriarty continued, “I think the interactions between her and Celeste but also Madeline are just exquisite.”
Actor Laura Dern happily teased that her character’s arc would be a bit of a shock: “Getting into Renata is always scary and always inspiring and teaches me about ferocity. If you know what happened at the end of Season 1 you are prepared for what must come next with the other storylines, but I would say Renata’s is definitely a big surprise.”
Coming back for a second season has given the actors opportunities to explore their characters even more, expanding on what Season 1 began. Zoë Kravitz said of her character, Bonnie, “It’s heavy what she has going on, but it was stuff I wanted to explore with her that I didn’t get to the first season. It was almost as though it was sitting in me in Season 1 and I got to exercise all those demons in Season 2.”
The overwhelming feeling of the evening was of excitement and gratitude. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been so blessed with working with such a talented group of people,” showrunner David E. Kelley said of the series, but he admitted, “Season 2 was a little daunting because we wanted to make sure we could measure up to the bar we had set for ourselves in Season 1.” He shouldn’t worry too much though, if the outpouring of fan anticipation is any sort of measurement, people are more than ready to return to Monterey.