11:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Big Little Lies' Season 2 a Go as HBO Inks Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman to New Deals
Big Little Lies season two is officially a go.
HBO on Friday confirmed months of speculation that the Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman miniseries would return for a second season. The production has tapped Andrea Arnold, who won an Oscar for writing and directing her short film Wasp, to helm all seven episodes of season two. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the delay in the official announcement was to allow the premium cable network time to find a director to replace Emmy-winning helmer Jean-Marc Vallee.
Stars and executive producers Witherspoon and Kidman are confirmed to return for season two. Most of the season one cast are expected to return, and negotiations are underway. Since Big Little Lies was originally envisioned as a closed-ended miniseries — season one covered the entirety of author Liane Moriarty's book — HBO did not have options with the cast for a sophomore run. Sources note that stars Witherspoon and Kidman had been seeking raises from season one, especially after the former inked a massive deal at Apple to star in and produce a morning-show drama that will pay her an estimated $1.5 million per episode. The untitled project was picked up for two seasons, covering 20 episodes.
David E. Kelley is confirmed to return and has already penned all seven scripts for season two of Big Little Lies, which is partially based on a story by Moriarty. HBO says season two will explore the "malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting. Relationships will fray, loyalties will erode … the potential for emotional and bodily injury shall loom."
"I'm excited to announce the return of Big Little Lies," HBO programming president Casey Bloys said in a statement. "David Kelley wrote beautiful scripts and Reese and Nicole were, once again, a force to be reckoned with, reuniting the cast and recruiting the talented Andrea Arnold to direct. We look forward to working with this amazing group of artists."
Exec producers on season two include Kelley via his David E. Kelley Productions banner, Kidman and her Blossom Films shingle topper Per Saari, Witherspoon via Hello Sunshine, Bruna Papandrea, Arnold, Vallee, Nathan Ross and Gregg Fienberg. Moriarty will produce.
"I'm thrilled to be bringing back this talented team of artists," said Witherspoon, who with Kidman optioned the rights to the book and originally planned to produce and star in a feature film adaptation. "It gives us the opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of these intriguing and intricate Monterey families and bring more of their stories back to the audience who embraced and championed them. I'm beyond excited to be working with talented and acclaimed director Andrea Arnold who will be at the helm. Andrea's unique storytelling style will be a welcome addition to the filmmaking team."
Big Little Lies earned 16 Emmy nominations and took home eight awards, including for outstanding limited series, lead actress for Kidman, supporting actor for Alexander Skarsgard and supporting actress for Laura Dern.
"This is inspired by the overwhelming response by audiences around the world, conceived once again by Liane Moriarty, realized by David Kelley and now in the hands of visionary filmmaker Andrea Arnold," Kidman said. "What a journey this has been. I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to keep exploring these female characters and make this series with my friends."
Arnold, repped by Gersh and Gochman Law Group, counts directing episodes of Transparent and I Love Dick among her TV credits. On the feature side, she wrote and directed 2016's American Honey and penned the screenplay for and directed 2011's Wuthering Heights.
Big Little Lies becomes the latest "limited series" to earn a second season. In the Peak TV era of nearly 500 scripted shows, cutting through the clutter has become increasingly difficult, so when a show like Big Little Lies becomes a critical and awards favorite, it sparks an almost immediate discussion to do another cycle. THR polled 17 execs about the trend over the summer, with Bloys noting that it makes sense to turn a limited series into an ongoing franchise "only when everyone involved feels in their bones a potential second season is a worthy successor to the first."
Meanwhile, HBO is also looking to do a second season of limited series The Night Of; AMC is looking to do the same with The Night Manager; and Netflix has already greenlighted a second season of watercooler drama 13 Reasons Why.