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Entertainment Weekly

TCA

Big Little Lies: Will HBO's new drama stay true to the book?

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

HBO’s upcoming Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman-starring drama Big Little Lies will stay relatively faithful to Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel of the same name — shocking twists and all!

Big Little Lies revolves around three mothers (played by Witherspoon, Kidman, and Shailene Woodley) whose seemingly normal lives are disrupted by unspeakable tragedy. And though fans who have read the novel will already know the mysteries of the dark and deeply unsettling who-dun-it, that doesn’t necessarily bother executive producer and writer David E. Kelley.

“It was both easy and challenging,” Kelley said of adapting the novel at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Saturday. “The easy part was I could stay faithful to the story I loved. The architecture was there, the character development was there, the world was there. That made it easier.”

However, some moments from the novel did end up on the cutting room floor. “What was challenging was living up to the book, living up to the complications of some of those characters and also having to make cuts, because there are nuggets in the book that if we had more time, we could’ve explored more crevices,” Kelley says. “It was a pretty smooth process and a fun process overall. I give credit to Liane. She wrote a terrific piece.”

Witherspoon, who is also an executive producer with Kidman, says she immediately related to the source material, which explores a darker side to women’s struggles through parenthood.

“I saw myself at different stages of motherhood all through my life,” she says, explaining that she became a young mother at 22 like the Jane (Woodley) character, and now she’s an older mother at 40, like her character Madeline. “There were just so many aspects of it that were so relatable.” Kidman adds: “We were excited to show the lives of these women in a very authentic way.”

Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild) directed all seven episodes of Big Little Lies, which was written by Kelley (Ally McBeal). The show also stars Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, and Zoë Kravitz.

Big Little Lies premieres Feb. 19 on HBO. Watch the trailer above.

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