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‘Little Fires Everywhere': Jade Pettyjohn on Her ‘Beautiful’ Screaming Match With Reese Witherspoon

”Mother-daughter relationships are vastly complicated,“ Pettyjohn tells TheWrap

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the finale of Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”)

Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere” dropped its finale on Wednesday, an episode packed with fiery moments — and one literal, actual fire. Among those explosive scenes that built up to the burning of the Richardson family home was a screaming match between Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon) and her daughter Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn) in the middle of the night, after the teen admits to having had an abortion.

When Lexie confesses it was her, not Pearl (Lexi Underwood), who got pregnant, she tells her mother she’s “not f–king perfect,” to which Elena screams back at the top of her lungs, “yes you are!” Elena then storms back into her bedroom and slams the door. Lexie screams right back, and slams her door, too.

“I think mother-daughter relationships are vastly complicated and filled with so much love and, at times, animosity,” Pettyjohn told TheWrap. “And I think it’s really important to be able to highlight the real things that happen in that kind of relationship and there is the untamed, wild, aggressive points of those relationships that do come out. And it’s something that happens to every mother-daughter relationship, no matter how close you are with them.”

Pettyjohn says she “thought it was really beautiful to be able to craft that moment with Reese.”

“We had tried it so many different ways, where it was quiet, where it wasn’t,” she told us. “But when she screamed, everyone felt that was it. In that moment it was, ‘Wow, we just captured what it would have been like if this was a real story.’ And that just gave me chills and was a really beautiful moment.”

This fight between Lexie and Elena goes on after Elena’s other teenage daughter, Izzy (Megan Stott), tried to set a fire in an act of rebellion. Izzy instead runs away, leaving her siblings — Lexie, Trip (Jordan Elsass) and Moody (Gavin Lewis) — to decide what to do with the gas and the match.

Choosing to set the home aflame themselves is a very bold choice, especially for Lexie, considering she was never close with Izzy. In that moment, she sides with her alienated sister.

“It’s a really interesting relationship to explore and to build with this whole thing,” Pettyjohn told us. “They’re sisters and they’ve grown up in the same house, but it’s almost as if they are strangers. But they do have similar motives in that they both want to be accepted and loved and seen and one of them just handles it in a different way than the other one does. One of them feels they need to go against the family to be seen and the other feels they need to adapt and imitate to be seen.”

“And at the last episode, I think Lexie really sees the damage that has been done with regards to Izzy and what she’s done to Izzy, but also how the family sees her,” she continued. “Lexie actually says it, ‘Maybe she’s the only one that actually had it right.’ And it’s becoming real to her that someone that she never really got along with growing up or never really thought to build any kind of relationship with at all, she suddenly sees her sister and there’s something really beautiful and heartbreaking to that. And lighting the fire, for Lexie, a huge part of that was paying homage to her sister and burning down the life that she had.”

Readers can find our interview with “Little Fires Everywhere” showrunner Liz Tigelaar about the finale here.