“Big Little Lies” returns this Sunday, June 9 on HBO!
The second season of this subversive, darkly comedic drama will explore the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and the vicious ferocity of sound parenting. Relationships will fray, loyalties will erode…the potential for emotional and bodily injury shall loom. The Monterey Five – Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), Celeste (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley), Renata (Laura Dern) and Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) – are joined by Celeste’s visiting mother-in-law, Mary Louise (Meryl Streep), and their husbands, Ed (Adam Scott), Nathan (James Tupper) and Gordon (Jeffrey Nordling), in this seven-episode season. Created by David E. Kelley; teleplays by David E. Kelley; story by David E. Kelley and Liane Moriarty; based on the novel by Liane Moriarty; directed by Andrea Arnold; executive producers, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, David E. Kelley, Andrea Arnold, Jean-Marc Vallée, Bruna Papandrea, Per Saari, Gregg Fienberg, Nathan Ross and Liane Moriarty.
We were on the red carpet at the New York premiere. Check out what the cast had to say below:
The Knockturnal: When you first joined this show, did you realize how special it was?
Robin Weigert: Yes, in a word yes. It was very much in the script– my character being a psychotherapist, I had seen psychotherapists in scripts before, I’d auditioned for them before, and I had never seen one written quite like this. I felt David E. Kelley really understood psychotherapy and understood the power of silence and what happens in the silence is that they’re active and not stuff to be just snipped out in the editing room. Silences count in therapy. The script as a whole, and the novel which I read as well, always picturing Nicole and Reese even though it was set in a totally different place. They seemed so right for these two parts. But I loved the novel and I loved what he did with it, I really did. It’s like there’s a great conversation going on between David E. Kelley and Liane Moriarty here and I think they are really well-suited to each other, so I knew it was going to be a great project.
The Knockturnal: And when you found out you were returning, how exciting was that and did you have a vision for where you wanted to go this season?
Robin Weigert: I was just really curious what they’d do with the character in a second season and if there were in another season I’d be curious again, you know, I don’t know if there ever will be but… Because she had such a specific function in the first season and it was really particularly to crack open the case of the abuse and it’s an intelligence in confrontation with another intelligence because someone with such tools at her disposal, a lawyer like Nicole Kidman’s character, can very well insulate herself against being penetrated by someone who’s there to be a therapist so the counterpoint between her sort of rebellion against the therapy and her vulnerability, that was really interesting to play opposite from, to feel like she had every way of shutting me down and including legal recourse to shut me down and to keep plowing forward anyway because the agenda was that important– that was very interesting stuff to play.
The Knockturnal: Some of my favorite scenes are the ones with you and Nicole. How was collaborating with her?
Robin Weigert: Incredible, because she brings so much to the table and without it ever being speaking about, there is a modality of work in this– because we worked on something else this year and it was different.
The Knockturnal: What did you work on?
Robin Weigert: Well we were both in the Roger Ailes movie about Roger Ailes that will come out in December, and oddly we were quite coincidentally cast opposite of each other again in a certain regard. I played her attorney but that was a very different experience working with her … and so I’m really there in the capacity of the therapist and she’s really there going through something it feels very, very real always. And even between takes, she doesn’t let go. So something is happening even when the cameras aren’t rolling and it’s never really not happening. It stays alive which is extremely useful and at times quite terrifying and at times really thrilling and everything in between … She’s wonderful to work with–such a versatile actress and such a great actress and kind.
The Knockturnal: Tell me about what we can expect this season from your character and his marriage?
Jeffrey Nordling: Oh buckle up buttercup. It’s gonna be wild. I mean in a way, the big thing didn’t happen until the very last episode of the first season so now it’s been a year since that happened and they have been trying to suppress it for a year. But from the first scene of the first episode, it’s there. It’s waiting to come out, and Gordon and Renata have a very unique ride this year. Gordon is perhaps going through a bit of a mid-life crisis maybe.
The Knockturnal: Renata is one of the wealthier and more connected characters. How does that play into things?
Jeffrey Nordling: Well they both are. Gordon is extremely successful financially, so that’s kind of the point is that he’s got this gorgeous wife, this beautiful daughter, this beautiful house and it’s not enough.
The Knockturnal: It could all come crashing down too.
Jeffrey Nordling: But it’s also not enough and so he’s got to push and so why is that? And then meanwhile the wife is dealing with this thing that is happened ….the whole thing this season is just a wild ride.
The Knockturnal: How was working with Andrea coming to fill in for Jean-Marc and helm the show?
Jeffrey Nordling: I loved it. I mean I would walk against hot coals to work with Jean-Marc again. He’s a force of nature. Andrea is so freeing and relaxing on set, just allows you to explore and be loose. I loved it.
The Knockturnal: How did you get involved?
Crystal Fox: Well that I’m telling you is a gift that came out of the air to me. Well actually it came from God to me. I really don’t even know how I got here except for I was doing an independent film, it went to Sundance last year or the year before, the casting director saw it and the next thing I know he I asked my agents for me to put myself on tape for this show which was insane because I had no idea they would be looking for any other characters after Miss Streep, you don’t need anyone else and it just was a massive surprise but an amazing gift because also if I had done one episode that would have been fine and fabulous but to get the gift of doing six, incredible.
The Knockturnal: That’s amazing. I haven’t seen yours yet–I only saw the first–but we know that your character is Zoë’s mom. Speak about the dynamic. What can we expect?
Crystal Fox: You saw last season? Okay at least you know where it’s going. So most of the time I think you think parents come in to find out how you’re doing and what’s going on and they set it up to say “what’s going on, why did you, how did you get to that point?” and I think you’ll find that how she became who she is and what may have pushed her to that point and her exploration of that.
The Knockturnal: How was working with Andrea? She’s new to the series as well. What was that dynamic like?
Crystal Fox: Fantastic. First of all, it was mostly women leads and also in the crew and to have this female director, she’s absolutely lovely. I loved working with her and…it’’s a serious subject matter but there was so much dancing on set in between and that was lovely. It kind of broke up things and it kind of bonded us at the same time. It was wonderful.
The Knockturnal: What do you admire about Zoë?
Crystal Fox: Oh wow. I know she probably doesn’t want to hear it but I feel like I’m so much older and getting older and she’s young and has so much skill … I can’t imagine where else she’s going to go. She’s just going to soar, and she’s wonderful to work with.
The Knockturnal: What was the highlight for you on set? Any moments stand out?
Crystal Fox: Getting the job was the number one highlight but I will say there was a fun moment when there was a party scene coming and I got to be around most of them and it was just so much fun to not only really have fun around and look around and say “look at the room I’m in.” It was extraordinary.
The Knockturnal: Anything else coming up that you’d like to share–independent films, other projects?
Crystal Fox: Oh thank you for asking. I have been cast on Amazon’s new show Utopia so I’ll be doing that and I am going into my eighth season of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots on the Oprah Winfrey Network, which our fan base is continuing to grow which is interesting about being here in New York. I always think New York and LA, they see actors all the time so to be recognized here for that is just, like wow this is fun so it’s a wonderful moment.
The Knockturnal: What is it like to have bosses like Tyler and Oprah?
Crystal Fox: Listen! So the other icing– for the very first day of filming for Big Little Lies, I was on the same lot as OWN so I felt like I was in between two families. So my bosses are Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey: it doesn’t get any better than that and who do you want to work for after that?
The Knockturnal: I don’t know! I can’t think of anybody. I think that you have hit gold.
Crystal Fox: I do too, I think it’s fantastic. And another thing that I loved was while I’m doing their series I had to get permission to do this one and the two of them, Mr. Perry and Ms. Winfrey, found out that I was being considered for it, they were like “she has to go do it” so I have their support…
The Knockturnal: Congratulations on another season.
PJ Byrne: I did it for you. We don’t wanna let you down, we don’t want to blow it.
The Knockturnal: I saw your little dance in the first episode.
PJ Byrne: Oh no you didn’t! How did it go?
The Knockturnal: It was pretty funny.
PJ Byrne: Is it was funny? Okay oh okay I was so nervous. It’s so funny, you have no idea with this stuff and you have to watch it with like 300 other people the first time when you see your pilot so you’re like “oh gosh” so thank you. I can’t tell if it’s good or not, was it terrible? You hated it? I’m devastated. No, I’m kidding, I’m totally kidding. That’s great.
The Knockturnal: And so were you surprised when you heard they were gonna bring it back?
PJ Byrne: Oh yeah, oh my god we were totally surprised. We all went in thinking it was just going be one season, you know, because it’s a miniseries so we were like one and done. You have these incredible movie stars–there’s no way you can figure out their schedules and get everyone back together again to make the show, so when it all happened again I was like “thank you, thank you.” It was really special.
The Knockturnal: So how was it working with Reese? Your characters have a little bit of tension!
PJ Byrne: Reese, I bow to her. As a father of two little girls, though, and having two female bosses like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon is an absolute pleasure and and our director is Andrea Arnold so this is sort of a girl power moment if you will and I feel like they are so blazing the path so I just hope that when my kids grow up they won’t even know any of this. Equal pay is equal pay and that so to be a part of the show is really spectacular.
The Knockturnal: How was having Andrea come in because Jean-Marc Vallee did the first season.
PJ Byrne: Couldn’t have picked anyone better. She is amazing. They have very similar tendencies. I also like to improvise, she was so cool with that. We had such an amazing time on set together and I can’t wait to see her tonight. She’s my hero.
The Knockturnal: Anything else coming up that you’d like to share?
PJ Byrne: There’s a lot of things … hopefully, there’s going to be a really good movie called Countdown. You’re going to get very afraid, very afraid.