“Big Little Lies” was supposed to be a miniseries; it wasn’t supposed to return for a second season. But it proved to be such a big hit that HBO just couldn’t let it go.
After much speculation and a triumphant awards season, HBO made it official and ordered another seven episodes full of mom drama, lies (of all shapes and sizes) and stunning beachfront property.
Since the first season covered the entirety of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel, little is known about the direction the second season will take or how the show will build upon the already-told story. But with the series currently in production, we do know some of what “Big Little Lies” Season 2 will look like. Here’s everything we know so far.
1. Most of the cast is returning
As executive producers in addition to their on-screen roles, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman were the first announced to return to Monterey, but they were followed by nearly all of the show’s original cast.
Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz will also star in the second season, and they’ll be joined by Adam Scott, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling, Iain Armitage, Kathryn Newton, Robin Weigert, Sarah Sokolovic and Merrin Dungey.
2. Even Alexander Skarsgard
Skarsgard’s character Perry, the abusive husband of Kidman’s Celeste, died at the end of the first season, but according to TV Line, he is still expected to appear “in some capacity.”
When asked about the report by People, the actor replied, “I don’t even know if I’m really dead or not.”
3. Newcomers include Meryl Streep and Bonnie’s parents
As though a second season pick up wasn’t surprising enough, “Big Little Lies” shocked everybody when it announced its newest cast member: Meryl Streep.
For the first time on television since 2003’s “Angels in America,” the three-time Oscar-winner will play Perry’s mother Mary Louise Wright, who arrives in Monterey over worry about her mourning grandchildren.
Kidman shared the first photo of Streep in character (complete with one hell of a wig) on Instagram:
And though Kravitz’s character Bonnie saw her role reduced from the book in Season 1, it seems like Season 2 will take a deeper dive into her backstory.
“Weeds” alum Martin Donovan and “In the Heat of the Night” star Crystal Fox have signed on to recur in the upcoming episodes as her parents, Martin and Elizabeth, though further character and plot details are being kept tightly under wraps.
4. Here’s what the other characters will be up to
Much of the plot remains unknown — as the show will go beyond its source material in Season 2 — but the episodes will be written by showrunner David E. Kelley and are partially based on story by Moriarty herself.
HBO has teased some of the season’s arcs in character descriptions, which you can read below:
Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright: Reeling from her husband Perry’s death, Celeste is adrift, but determined to fight for her family and find the woman she once was.
Reese Witherspoon as Madeline Martha Mackenzie: Finding that good intentions don’t always yield good consequences, Madeline confronts the truth of Perry’s death, while coming to terms with her own marriage and traditional notions of family.
Shailene Woodley as Jane Chapman: While processing Perry’s sudden death, Jane is trying to build a new life for herself and Ziggy.
Laura Dern as Renata Klein: The epitome of control, Renata is now faced with new challenges in her marriage.
Zoë Kravitz as Bonnie Carlson: Bonnie struggles with Perry’s death and is forced to face demons in her past.
Meryl Streep as Mary Louise Wright: Concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren following her son Perry’s death, Mary Louise arrives in Monterey searching for answers.
Adam Scott as Ed Mackenzie: Ed is forced to confront major challenges in his marriage to Madeline.
James Tupper as Nathan Carlson: Nathan copes with a complicated turn of events in his marriage and with his eldest daughter Abby.
Jeffrey Nordling as Gordon Klein: Gordon faces the consequences of a big mistake and risks losing everything along the way.
Iain Armitage as Ziggy Chapman: Ziggy starts second grade and continues to be the light of Jane’s life.
5. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman got big pay bumps to return
Because the show was conceived as a miniseries, HBO did not have options for the cast beyond the first season. And, as The Hollywood Reporter reported in January, landing deals for the cast to return came at a steep price for the network.
Witherspoon alone, whose producing slate has exploded in recent months with high-profile projects at Apple and now Hulu, is earning “in the $1 million-an-episode ballpark” for the second season, along with fees for serving as an executive producer and points off the backend. Kidman, also an executive producer, is said to have a similar deal.
That led to a brief controversy for the network when an HBO exec said the company had been “sort of raped” financially by the negotiations, comments for which she later apologized.
6. David E. Kelley will write the show; Andrea Arnold will direct
As noted above, Kelley will write and executive produce the second season, as he did the first. But Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallée (who retains an EP credit) will be replaced by Andrea Arnold.
Arnold won an Academy Award in 2005 for directing the short film “Wasp” and has since gone on to direct a number of acclaimed films including “Red Road,” “Fish Tank” and a 2011 adaptation of “Wuthering Heights.”
Her most recent film, 2016’s “American Honey,” took home the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was hailed by critics as the film that proved Arnold to be one of the industry’s best working directors.
7. It will probably premiere in 2019
So fans will have to wait until next year to watch Season 2, along with the final run of “Game of Thrones” and the long-awaited third season of “True Detective.”
8. There’s a dog, and he has great hair
Look at him!