‘Big Little Lies’: The Strange Way Meryl Streep Joined the Cast

Big Little Lies is back! That means after last season’s cliff hanger, we can finally all breathe a little easier. The women that we know and love are all back on our screens again, but with one very important addition, Meryl Streep.

And we aren’t the only ones who are freaking out.

“I need to take a deep breath every time I talk to her,” Reese Witherspoon recently told Entertainment Tonight of working with Streep. “It was intimidating, for sure.”

“I had to sometimes pull myself back and take a deep breath and go, ‘OK, she’s just a person,” she continued. “‘She’s just a human being.’ But it was a thrill. And to get to sit with her and talk about the script and work through scenes, it was just like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ As an actor, all my life worshipping her work, and she’s just as truthful and honest and genuine and fun-loving as you can imagine.”

And even those behind the scenes were intimidated to work with Streep, as well.

“Daunted because you’re all of a sudden writing for Meryl Streep, and that’s a pretty high bar to live up to, and liberated because right away this season, the equation was going to be totally different,” Big Little Lies creator
David E. Kelley told the outlet of how he felt when Streep came on. “The one thing you want to avoid is just a do-over, you want to make sure season two is as vibrant and original and provocative as year one and having that character went a long way to launching this out of the gate.”

Who is Streep’s character?

This season, Streep is playing the role of Mary Louise, the grieving mother of Perry Wright, who has just moved to Monterey to help Celeste with her kids now that she is a widow.

Mary Louise’s driving purpose throughout the show is to find out what really happened to her son, which forces the Monterey Five to scramble to combat her inquiries.

The author of the book and producer of the show, Liane Moriarty, crafted the character specifically for Streep.

“That’s why she’s called Mary Louise,” Moriarty said at the New York Big Little Lies red carpet premiere.

“In fact, in the beginning, I was calling her Meryl,” she said. “Then I thought, ‘No, that’s too obvious. I’ll find out her middle name.’ And then Wikipedia told me that her real name is Mary Louise and [that name] actually worked perfectly for the character.”

How did Streep join the cast?

Since the role was crafted for Streep, Moriarty had to figure out how to get the star to be on the show.

Luckily for Moriarty, Nicole Kidman was willing to send Streep a text.

“[Nicole said,] ‘Do you want to be in Big Little Lies?’” Streep told ET. “I said, ‘Are you crazy? I’d love to be in it!'”

She joined the cast before even reading the script.

“I believe in these girls and that first season just blew me away, everything about it – the writing, the depth of the performances, the style, the music, the world was a whole world and I couldn’t wait to see where it was going to go,” she continued.