Don't Watch Big Little Lies Season 2 Until You Read This

Just a month before Big Little Lies' Season 2 premiere, HBO released a full-length trailer, effectively whetting our appetites for what's to come. "Secrets always surface," the network teased on YouTube. "Big Little Lies returns June 9 on HBO." The cast has been very tightlipped about the second season, but Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste, did divulge her opinion when speaking to Vanity Fair. "I hope there's an enormous amount of truth," she revealed. "It's the aftermath of a death."

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Big Little Lies showrunner David E. Kelley spoke more about the plot of Season 2. "We left off with a lie, so it would have been disingenuous not to mine that lie for all its malignancy," he said. "It's going to result in more skewed fractures and fissures in the friendships between the women, some of the marriages, and some of the individual psyches." And we are here for it. But that's not all you need to know about the second season. You're going to want to keep reading. Note: Season 1 spoilers ahead.

Season 2 wasn't supposed to happen

As excited as we are to watch the second season of this captivating television drama, it wasn't actually part of the plan. "What I used to say about Big Little Lies was that the only problem with it was that it's only one season," Casey Bloys, HBO programming chief, said with a laugh when speaking to Vulture. The reaction from fans was overwhelmingly positive, but Bloys noted that "everyone involved — the network, producers, David [E. Kelley], and [director] Jean-Marc [Vallée] — all had the same reaction: 'That was great, but that's the end of the book.'" The first — and for a time, only — season of Big Little Lies was based on the novel of the same name by author Liane Moriarty. And the show used up all of the material in the first season. 

Nevertheless, Bloys said they began considering a second season after post-production wrapped — but they did so with a level of skepticism. He explained, saying, "You don't want to make a decision out of, 'That worked, let's do more,' and have that drive the decision." In the end, the Big Little Lies team came up with a compelling second season.

It's based on a follow-up novella

Although a second season wasn't planned, the series' team realized something. "So we started thinking, 'We do end the first season with a cliffhanger...' This cop is sitting there with the binoculars, there is an open-ended story," Nicole Kidman's longtime producing partner, Per Saari, told Vanity Fair. "So, we went to Liane [Moriarty] and asked her if she would write a book." Moriarty ended up writing a novella sequel.

Although the novella hasn't been published, the author presented it to show producer David E. Kelley. Of course, that didn't automatically green-light a second season. HBO programming chief Casey Bloys told Vulture that the team had to make sure that it would translate to the small screen: "Reese [Witherspoon] and Nicole [Kidman] were involved, and they felt that there was more life in the characters." He further explained that the second season was done, in his opinion, "for the right reason." He continued, saying, "They set a really high bar, and I think everybody involved believes it's either going to hit that bar and exceed it, or we wouldn't do it." 

It won't be a shortened season

Liane Moriarty's original novel is over 500 pages, whereas her novella is just 200 pages. With a 40 percent reduction in content, you might assume we're in for a condensed second season. But, apparently, that's not the case. As fans of another HBO mega hit Game of Thrones can no doubt attest, shortened seasons are for the birds. HBO confirmed that Big Little Lies Season 2 will feature seven episodes — the same number of episodes as Season 1.

The network further confirmed, "Season 1 creator, writer and executive producer David E. Kelley will be tackling each script, based on a story by best-selling author Liane Moriarty." Although there's no telling how by-the-book this season will be, Moriarty revealed in an interview with Elle that some scenes in the first season were "exactly as [she] had described it in the book." HBO explained that Season 2 "will continue to explore the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting." The network also promised that "things could get messy." Hopefully we will also get to read the novella after the show wraps.

It wasn't directed by Jean-Marc Vallee

Despite the success of the first season of Big Little Lies, director Jean-Marc Vallée was not able to return for Season 2. "We knew it wasn't possible for Jean-Marc to jump in because of Sharp Objects," HBO programming chief Casey Bloys told Vulture. "If he jumped in after [that] was done, it would've meant four years of his life doing limited series for HBO, and I think he's earned a well-deserved rest after he's done with Sharp Objects." And taking a rest is just what Vallée has been doing.

"I'm on a break, have been for a month, and I have seven more to go," the director told The Hollywood Reporter in October 2018. "I'm taking eight months to recharge my batteries and to get my life back." He continued, saying, "I didn't know it would be so demanding, but it's a marathon, a Herculean effort for a director to direct all the episodes." Vallée ended up shooting episodes for two different shows over the course of 180 days — in under two years. Whew.

Welcoming Andrea Arnold

Although Jean-Marc Vallée did a phenomenal job with Season 1, we can expect great things for the second season of Big Little Lies. Yes, even with a different director. In fact, HBO programming chief Casey Bloys admitted that had they not found Andrea Arnold they may not have even considered doing a second season. She was that pivotal to the story. "Andrea is a very exciting filmmaker," he told Vulture. "I think it's really cool to have her come in and give her take on this world and these characters."

To have a woman at the helm of the show is also exciting — especially because the series has a predominately female cast. Actress Laura Dern, who plays Renata, opined to ABC News that she and her costars were "just so happy to work with other women." She continued, "When you're on movies for a long time, both cast and crew, there weren't other women around, so to have this amazing group of female actors and crew to work with has been amazing."

All the Monterey moms are back

Director Jean-Marc Vallée is actually one of the few people not on board for Season 2. Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who plays Madeline, have not only returned to act in the second season, but HBO confirmed that both women returned as executive producers. Kidman is producing through her production company, Blossom Films, and Witherspoon through her company, Hello Sunshine, the network explained. 

When Kidman and Witherspoon first read the script of Big Little Lies, Witherspoon said they both wanted to have it. "We read it at the same time, and we both wanted it, so instead of going against each other, we got on the phone and decided to partner and to do it together," Witherspoon told Vanity Fair. And don't worry, your other favorites will be there too. "Like a Monterey fundraising event," HBO revealed, "anyone who's anyone will be there." The network confirmed that the rest of the Montery mom squad — Laura Dern as Renata, Shailene Woodley as Jane, and Zoë Kravitz as Bonnie — are in Season 2.

A new A-list castmate

Not only are our favorite mamas returning to the small screen, but we'll also be #blessed with the Meryl Streep's presence. HBO announced that Streep joined the series to play the late Perry's grieving mother and grandmother to Celeste's children. But don't expect her to play a doting granny. As the trailer shows, Streep is in California to figure out exactly what happened to her son — and she's not pulling any punches in the process.

Although it seems unlikely that Streep's character will get along with the Monterey Five, the most-nominated actress and three-time Oscar award winner says it was the relationship of the women behind the series that inspired her to come aboard. "The fans wanted more, I wanted more," she told Vanity Fair. "I signed on without even knowing what the part was because I had such confidence in this group and just how smart they all are and how high the bar was going to be."

There will be ice cream

In summer 2018, a photo from the set of Big Little Lies made its way onto the internet. In it, Reese Witherspoon appears to be throwing an ice cream cone at the back of Meryl Streep's head. A fan shared the picture on Twitter with the caption, "I am praying Reese pelts Meryl with that ice cream," which prompted a response from Witherspoon herself. "Oh Matt! No need to pray," the actress and producer tweeted, thus confirming the scene. "I got her!"

It's hard to imagine anyone throwing anything at Streep, but Witherspoon insists that she didn't feel guilty about chucking a cone — which happens to be two scoops of coconut ice cream with sprinkles from Mother Moo creamery in Sierra Madre, Calif. — at Streep's noggin. In an interview with Variety, she revealed, "No, I didn't feel bad about it, I felt really good about it." She explained, "Once you see the show, you'll know why I did it, and then you'll be really happy, you'll be like, 'Yes!'"

Don't worry, the ladies are BFFs IRL

Witherspoon may not be remorseful about pelting Streep with an ice cream cone, but the Monterey Five — plus Streep — get along just fine. Actually, better than fine. Nicole Kidman admitted to Vanity Fair that the women have their own group text. When asked if Streep was in on it, Kidman replied, "Yes. And she's very funny."

When speaking with InStyle, Zoë Kravitz said the cast kept in touch — through "group texts and emails and stuff like that" — even before they knew they'd link up again for a second season. Kravitz added, "It's so amazing to have women in your life like that who are a part of the industry and who you've grown up watching and admiring ... and now they're giving you advice and encouraging you to continue and develop your projects, your dreams, and yourself."

"It's like years and years of actresses being siloed off, and finally they let us intermingle," Witherspoon told Vanity Fair, adding, "It was a really amazing experience of sharing our indignities and our triumphs, and just every rainbow of the female experience in our business."

Wait, is Alexander Skarsgard in Season 2?

The first season of Big Little Lies ended with Alexander Skarsgård's character, Perry, looking, well, not alive. Nevertheless, the actor has been teasing a potential return to the series. "I don't even know if I'm really dead or not," he said in an interview with NBC (via People). He continued, joking, "I feel okay right now but we'll see."

Skarsgård has not confirmed — nor denied — a role in Season 2, but he did tell Digital Spy that he "read all the scripts" for the second season. Hmm. As scripts are generally reserved for those taking part in a series, this is an interesting tidbit. But whether or not he winds up in the second season, the actor revealed that he thinks "people will enjoy" the sequel. "It's very, very smart. It's very good," he said. "They found a way to stay with these characters, but in a way that feels very interesting and very surprising — hopefully — to people."

Hello, "off-beat surfer" dude

The trailer for Big Little Lies teased a new love interest for Shailene Woodley's character, Jane. Deadline reported that actor Douglas Smith, known for his work in the mystery drama The Alienist, is playing the role of Corey Brockfield, whom the publication described as "an off-beat surfer, aspiring marine biologist, and Jane's (Shailene Woodley) co-worker."

Although it remains to be seen just how large of a role Smith will have in the series, IMDb does list him as appearing in all seven episodes. In an interview with Build, Smith revealed that he hadn't watched the series prior to auditioning for the role of Corey and was then nervous to sit down and watch the show everyone said was so excellent. But, like the rest of us, he decided to binge-watch it.

When speaking with Build about his character, Smith revealed, "He's a bit quirky." He also admitted that his character's motives are ambiguous, which we get a small preview of in the Season 2 teaser when he dubs the ladies "the Monterey Five." It will be interesting to see just what kind of role Smith plays.

We're going to learn more about Bonnie

If you thought Zoë Kravitz's character, Bonnie, deserved more screen time, you'll be happy to know that Kravitz both agrees with you and promises that her character will have a bigger role in Season 2. "There's definitely more of her, in terms of who she is, and where she comes from, and why she is the way she is, in the book," Kravitz explained to Refinery29. "I think the choice to limit that in the series was to have the element of surprise at the end. I think there was the concern that if you knew too much about her you might not be as shocked at the end." In Season 2, though, Bonnie has her chance to shine. "Now [we're] revealing who she is, why she is the way she is, and why she did what she did," Kravitz divulged. "I don't think you will be disappointed."

The Hollywood Reporter also reported that Martin Donovan was brought on as a recurring cast member in order to play Bonnie's father. Crystal Fox will also be portraying Bonnie's mother, which means we'll likely get to learn a whole lot more about Bonnie's upbringing.

New lies

Ahead of Season 2, Big Little Lies started its own Instagram account, further creating hype around the series. In late April 2019, the account posted a series of teasers with the cast's names spelling out the anagram "new lies." New lies? Although some details have been revealed, the plot has mainly been kept under wraps. As highlighted above, HBO confirmed that the drama "will continue to explore the malignancy of lies," but we don't know just yet what these "new lies" will entail.

Of course, these new lies could stem from the Monterey Five's big lie about Perry's death. Because, as the famous Walter Scott poem cautions, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave ... when first we practice to deceive." Whatever big little lies in store are, you can bet we'll be shocked. After all, we already know writers Loraine Moriarty and David E. Kelley are more than capable of surprising us.

Will there be a third season?

Sure, there was only supposed to be one season of Big Little Lies, but it's never too soon to ask for a third, now is it? However, showrunner and writer David E. Kelley told the media at the Television Critics Association press tour (via Entertainment Tonight) in February 2019 that there's "no such plan now." He continued, saying, "It's one and two, and we like our closure with season two, but that will probably be it." Hmm. Reese Witherspoon followed up, saying, "You sat here [years ago] and said that." Well, she does make a very good point.

Nicole Kidman also seemed to hint that Big Little Lies could continue into a third season. "There's no plan for it to end, specifically," Kidman is quoted as saying. Whether Season 2 ends in a cliffhanger or not, you can bet fans will be clamoring for an additional season.