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Everything we know so far about Big Little Lies 2

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Kayleigh Dray
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Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Reese Witherspoon run on a beach in a scene from Big Little Lies.

Oh, calamity…

After months of speculation, HBO has confirmed that the award-winning Big Little Lies is returning for a second season – with one major change.

So what do we know about the second season? 

Here, we pull together everything we know so far, including which of the cast will be returning, what the story will be about, and more.

1) Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman will be back

That’s right: the real-life Madeline MacKenzie and Celeste Wright will return in the Emmy-winning drama – and both actors will, again, be on as executive producers, too.

Unable to hide her excitement for the project, Witherspoon released a statement, which read: “I’m thrilled to be bringing back this talented team of artists … 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.”

Kidman added: “This is inspired by the overwhelming response by audiences around the world… 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.”

 2) Andrea Arnold will be directing

Witherspoon has confirmed that “talented and acclaimed director Andrea Arnold” – who has worked on the likes of Wuthering Heights and Honey – will be taking over from season one’s Jean-Marc Vallée.

“Andrea’s unique storytelling style will be a welcome addition to the filmmaking team,” she said.

3) Liane Moriarty is absolutely involved

As many fans of Big Little Lies will already know, the TV show was based on Liane Moriarty’s book of the same title – and, to ensure the story feels authentic, season two is partially based on a story by author.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Moriarty said: “It was too much fun to see what I could do and to see these characters again. And there’s definitely places you can go…

“The obvious thing is, first of all, I think we could bring in more of Bonnie’s story from the book.”

4) The episodes have already been written

The Hollywood Reporter has said that season one writer David E. Kelley has already written all seven episodes of the new season. 

5) Most of the original cast is expected to return

According to the HBO press release, most of the cast is expected to return, including Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, and Laura Dern. 

Kathryn Newton (who plays Abigail Carlson), Robin Weigert (who portrays Dr. Amanda Reisman), Merrin Dungey (who recurs as Detective Adrienne Quinland) and Sarah Sokolovic (who stars as Tori Bachman) are all set to return, too.

However, as the show was originally intended to be a closed-ended miniseries, HBO didn’t contract any actors for more than one season: this means that contract negotiations are currently underway. 

6) There will be four new characters

Vulture have revealed that auditions are underway for four new characters, including:

  • Michael Perkins (Mo McRae), a “new second-grade teacher at Otter Bay Elementary School”, accidentally causes Amabella to have a panic attack when he lectures his students on global warming. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go down well with Renata (Dern) at all. 
  • Corey Brockfield (Douglas Smith), who is described as an off-beat surfer, aspiring marine biologist” and employee in the school administration office. it isn’t long before he finds himself bonding with Jane (Woodley) over their “deepest secrets”.
  • Elizabeth and Martin Howard, aka the parents of Bonnie (Kravitz), are also set to rush to Monterey when they learn of a “family emergency”. As we gathered from Bonnie’s scenes in the first series, there’s more to these two than meets the eye: Elizabeth is said to be “controlling and abusive”, while Martin is “emotionally distant”. And it is worth remembering that, in Moriarty’s novel, Bonnie ends up saving Celeste by pushing Perry to his death. Bonnie later reveals that she grew up in a similarly abusive household after witnessing her father’s violence toward her mother. Seeing Perry’s attack on his wife brought up all of her childhood trauma, which helped explain Bonnie’s motivation in killing Perry.

7) And Meryl Streep is joining the cast, too

As in, yes, THE Meryl Streep. 

The Hollywood legend has signed on to play Mary Louise Wright, aka Perry’s mother, who arrives in Monterey concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren following her son’s death in the season one finale. More importantly, though, she’s searching for answers – which, considering (spoiler alert) all five of the show’s leading ladies had a hand in Perry’s death, is sure to put their friendships and newfound loyalties to the test.

On 6 April, Kidman shared the first photo of herself on set with Streep via Instagram, writing: “First day on the set with Meryl and “my” darling boys! #BigLittleLies.”

But, while it seems Mary Louise will bond with Celeste initially, it is expected that things quickly turn sour between them somehow.

So much so that, on 2 July, photos were leaked of Witherspoon (in character as Madeleine Mackenzie, of course) hurling an ice cream at the back of Streep’s head.

We can’t wait to see what that argument was about!

8) The second season will focus on Celeste and the fallout from Perry’s death

Moriarty said that Big Little Lies will focus on Kidman’s character and what her process of grief and (hopefully) healing looks like.

She explained to The Sydney Morning Herald: “That’s the question that’s also a really interesting thing, when you’ve been through a relationship like that, how do you feel now? How would she feel? She’s grieving. 

“She’s still grieving for the end of a terrible relationship and I think that would be a really interesting thing to explore. So there’s a whole lot of different storylines.”

9) But Perry might not be as dead as we all think…

Alexander Skarsgard is confirmed to return to the show in some capacity, too. Although conventional wisdom say Celeste is safe from her husband, and that he will only appear via flashback, Skarsgard recently hinted at some ambiguity surrounding his character’s fate.

Asked about his potential involvement in Season 2, the True Blood veteran hedged to People.com: “I don’t even know if I’m really dead or not.”

Hmm. That’s not how we remember it:

10) Production will begin between March and August 2018

According to Vulture, the premiere date for Big Little Lies season two will be known soon. We’re already counting down the days…

Images: Rex Features

This article was originally published in January 2018.