Who needs five potential Game of Thrones spinoffs when you have Meryl Streep in Big Little Lies season 2? HBO’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning limited series has been turned into an ongoing and has brought on the Hollywood heavyweight for the second season in a role that will address the fallout of the first season’s climax. Streep will join the already impressive cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley, as a group of mostly well-to-do Monterey women who wind up embroiled in a homicide investigation, the details of which unfold over the course of the seven-episode first season.
Based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies became one of HBO’s biggest hits last year, and as evidence by its cleaning up a various award ceremonies (Kidman and Skarsgård both walked away with Screen Actors Guild Awards this past Sunday) it is the kind of winner the network is keen to not only see return, but also grow into something equally buzzworthy and award friendly. And who better to bring onboard to handle that but perennial Academy Award nominee Streep, who recently received her twenty-first nomination for her role as Kay Graham in Steven Spielberg’s The Post.
Rather than keep details of Streep’s character under wraps, HBO has made the rare move of announcing who she’ll play; the particulars of which also reveal at least some hint of what path the season 2 story will follow. According to Variety, Streep will play Mary Louise Wright, mother to Alexander Sksarsgård’s abusive Perry Wright, who was killed at the end of the first season. According to the publication, Mary Louise has arrived in Monterey searching for answers to her son’s death, a quest that will no doubt see her at odds with Kidman’s Celeste, Perry’s wife and frequent victim of his abuse.
While Streep is certainly a huge get, she’s not the only new addition to season 2, as acclaimed filmmaker Andrea Arnold will step in for Jean-Marc Vallée as director on all seven new episodes. Arnold made a splash in 2016 with her film American Honey and was one of the first directors to make good use of Michael Fassbender’s talents in the 2009 film Fish Tank. She’ll be directing from scripts written by the returning David E. Kelley, who, according to THR, has already completed work on all seven scripts.
Streep’s addition to the cast is another sign of how competitive the television landscape has become recently, with casts like the one seen here negotiating big paydays to deliver high-profile projects and presumably continue the network’s winning ways. Still, with or without any future award wins, this casting news reads like a big win for HBO and its viewers.
Big Little Lies season 2 is expected to premiere in 2019 on HBO.