CULTURE

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman Deny Major Big Little Lies Controversy

The stars disputed the report that creative control was taken from director Andrea Arnold.


Jennifer Clasen/HBO

Earlier this July, IndieWire published a bombshell report about Big Little Lies. Their sources claimed that while indie favorite Andrea Arnold was hired to direct the second season of the HBO smash under the impressions she’d get creative control, executive producer and season one director Jean-Marc Vallée took creative control, re-editing Arnold’s cut. While Arnold declined to speak to the publication, sources close to the director said she was “heartbroken” that her original, un-edited work was never shown. Fans were outraged.

Last week, HBO’s president of programming Casey Bloys commented on the report, saying that nothing unusual had happened during Big Little Lies season two production. “There wouldn’t be a second season of Big Little Lies without Andrea,” he said. “We are indebted to her. I think she did a beautiful job. She got extraordinary performances out of this cast. But as anybody who works in television knows, the director typically doesn’t have final creative control. So the idea that creative control was taken from a director is just a false premise. For anyone who understands television, this is business as usual. I would be hard-pressed to point to any show that airs a director’s cut as its episode. It’s typically the raw material that the producers work from.”

And now BLL stars and executive producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, who has been criticized by some on Twitter for their silence, are backing that statement up. In a new interview with EW, the actors agreed with Bloys’s assessment. “In our minds, there is no controversy. We just love the show. We had such a great time doing it,” Witherspoon said. “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. 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.”

“[Bloys] said it beautifully,” added Kidman. “That’s why we had Casey handle it. Obviously, he’s the head of HBO. He really said it beautifully.”

Witherspoon and Kidman also teased a third season, declining to clarify the season 2 finale (did the Monterey 5 turn themselves in to the police?) in case they decide to go ahead with more BLL. “It’s a collaboration,” said Kidman. “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… Every single person who has made this has said this show is bigger than any single one of us.”

Related: Nicole Kidman Says “A Lot of People” Told Her Not to Do a Second Season of Big Little Lies

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