What did it take David E. Kelley to be convinced that a second season of Big Little Lies could work? An actress you might have heard of named Meryl Streep.
Like many, the writer of HBO’s Emmy juggernaut thought it was best to leave the series as it was originally intended.
“I didn’t think it was a very good idea,” Kelley told The Hollywood Reporter. “We wrote it as a one-off and we ended it in a way that was very lyrical. But we ended on a lie. I get so protective of characters and series, too, that I don’t want to damage them in any way, and I so loved how we ended year one and I thought, ‘Let’s just leave it at that.'”
And yet, Kelley, along with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and the rest of the powerhouse cast, is back for the seven-episode second season, which is expected to premiere in 2019. So why the change of heart?
“A multitude of forces, but mainly it came down to a creative analysis,” said Kelley. “[Big Little Lies author] Liane [Moriarty] wrote a novella of [new] stories, and most of them we’re using. But the genius one was introducing this character who’s being played by Meryl Streep. It’s a delicious character and I felt bringing her in was both liberating and daunting. Daunting because she sets a high bar and you have to measure up, but liberating in that now the show’s not going to be compared to last year. There was freedom in that.”
Streep has joined the cast as Celeste’s (Kidman) mother-in-law Mary Louise Wright, who surely has questions about the death of her son Perry (Alexander Skarsgård).
And while the prolific writer and producer had to be convinced about more Big Little Lies, Kelley is open to a revival of his hit dramedy Ally McBeal — but only if someone else, preferably a woman, does it.
“I don’t really have an interest in going backward, myself,” he said. “I do think because of the gender politics that were so part and parcel of Ally McBeal, it’s become very relevant and ripe. So, I’d be open to the idea of Ally McBeal being done again, but I don’t think it should be done by me. If it were going to be done, it really should be done by a woman. If it’s going to be new, it should be new and different. And I did it: 100 hours.”
Read Kelley’s full THR interview here.