Was there more drama behind the scenes of Big Little Lies season two than on screen? Depends on what you read.
A report in IndieWire indicated there was quite a bit of upheaval, with director Andrea Arnold‘s vision of the season being taken over by executive producer and first season director Jean-Marc Vallée. However, at HBO’s session during 2019 Television Critics Association summer press tour, Casey Bloys, head of programming at HBO, said there was no controversy.
“There’s a lot of misinformation around that subject,” Bloys told press, noting Arnold did a “beautiful job: on the second season and that a “a director typically does not have final creative control.”
In an interview with EW, series stars and executive producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman praised Bloys’ response to the report.
“In our minds, there is no controversy. We just love the show. We had such a great time doing it. There was a lot of misinformation and no credited sources on any of the information. This was an incredibly collaborative process for all of us and the idea that anyone was mistreated and not communicated with is completely not true,” Witherspoon said. “I was glad that Casey spoke so clearly about that and we are thrilled with the collaboration that yielded this season. It could have never been this show had it not been with these particular artists collaborating on this particular material.”
Both actors and producers praised Arnold’s time behind the camera.
“I think she did beautiful work. There is the same vocabulary cinematically, but the performances are mined differently, and you really feel that. She did beautiful work. We obviously had Meryl playing this uniquely strange character,” Kidman said. “All the performances this season were mined by Andrea. The performances are in a different place this season. Whether we go for another season and where the performances end up, is up to whoever directs it. Because that’s definitely the magic that Andrea brought to us, the mining of those performances.”
The second season ended with the Monterey Five—Witherspoon’s Madeline, Kidman’s Celeste, Laura Dern‘s Renata, Shailene Woodley‘s Jane and Zoë Kravitz‘s Bonnie—turning themselves into the police following the season one death of Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) and their cover up of what really happened. Ahead of the premiere, writer and executive producer David E. Kelley indicated this would be the end of Big Little Lies.
At TCA, Bloys said this about continuing the stories of these characters, “As the person who greenlit the Deadwood movie, I would say never say never. My stance though, is having approached season two skeptically, what became clear to us is like, oh, there’s a story to tell, like what happens after a big lie like that? How does it affect everybody? To me, on the face of it, there’s no obvious place to go, no obvious story.”
Noting how busy everyone one involved is, as well as the lack of obvious story, Bloys said he was “certainly be open” to a third season. “It doesn’t feel like it, but I am certainly open,” he said.
When EW asked whether Witherspoon and Kidman had known about the season two ending before starting work, the duo declined to say, noting they wanted to leave mystery should there be a third season.
“If there are conversations still to be had, I think that’s really what determines if we can tell a season three. Is it as good as season one and two? Does the audience still have questions? Do we have answers?” Witherspoon said.
Kidman said deciding about going forward with a third installment is “a collaboration.”
“We work as a group. We are incredibly tight; we talk to each other, and we are on each other’s side. So, we will decide as a group. We listen to the way in which people react because so much of TV is a very immediate medium,” she told EW. “Every single person who has made this has said this show is bigger than any single one of us.”