Why Meryl Streep Agreed to ‘Big Little Lies’ Without Even Reading a Script

How do you take a big-budget limited series like HBO’s Big Little Lies and add a second season? For starters, you have make sure all the in-demand stars — including producer-stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon — can fit another round into their schedule.

But a producer’s job is only getting started at that point. You’d still need to find a way to duplicate the power of Liane Moriarty’s story and convince people you aren’t just trying to cash in with a second installment. In short, you’d need an offer no one could refuse.

That came for Big Little Lies when Meryl Streep signed on for Season Two. When three-time Oscar winner agreed to work on the project, it officially set the wheels in motion.

Yet Streep’s decision-making process was much simpler. At the Season Two premiere, she told The Hollywood Reporter she jumped aboard without even looking at a script. That came as a surprise for Streep’s agent — and just about everyone else.

Streep didn’t care because ‘BLL’ was ‘the greatest thing on TV.’

Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Shailene Woodley discuss “Big Little Lies” at the 2019 Winter TCA on February 8, 2019 in Pasadena. | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

Naturally, the build-up to landing Streep for Season Two wasn’t at all simple. First of all, Moriarty didn’t plan on writing the story for the second installment. But as she kept advising producers about how to proceed, she realized she’d already begun writing and took the job.

According to THR, Moriarty kept things interesting by writing a new character specifically for Streep. And when she told Kidman and Witherspoon that she wanted Streep to play the role, they laughed at her chutzpah.

But Streep didn’t laugh. When her agent told her about the role, she simply said, “I’ll do it.” She didn’t need to see a script because (per THR) she called it “the greatest thing on TV.”

Moriarty helped the production’s chances of getting Streep to come aboard with a neat little trick. In the script, she gave the character (Perry’s mother) Streep’s real name (Mary Louise). Apparently, Streep appreciated the reference and was sold immediately.

Streep’s character is set to unnerve the ‘Monterey Five.’

Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep in a scene in Season 2 of ‘Big Little Lies’ | HBO

If you watched Season One of Big Little Lies, you know exactly why the arrival of Perry’s mother would be a major event for the ladies of Monterey (who locals started calling “The Monterey Five”).

In short, things didn’t end well for her abusive son. However, we don’t know how much she knew about the situation with Celeste (Kidman), Perry, and their two sons prior to his death. After all, we didn’t hear anything about grandma in the first go-round.

By arriving with her quiet, unnerving persistence, this Mary Louise will be certain to put the ladies with a big secret on their heels. Yet we imagine revelations will be in store for all concerned.

Meanwhile, it would be hard to imagine the alliance formed at the end of Season One could be a strong one. A lot of questions needed to be answered by the characters (and the creators), and that opens up vulnerability for all concerned.

On June 9, we’ll get a look at how they responded to the challenge. If Streep’s Mary Louise ends up as part of the tribe, imagine the tears that would flow by the finale.

Also see: Which ‘Big Little Lies’ Star Has the Highest Net Worth?