‘Big Little Lies’ Director Had Control Taken Away, ‘Indiewire’ Reports

Big Little Lies premiere
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HBO is currently airing the second season of its acclaimed TV series, Big Little Lies. Meryl Streep joined the all-star cast that already included Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz.

However, there’s trouble going on behind the scenes of the show, including a director who was promised creative control of the series but wasn’t reportedly granted that privilege. This news comes Friday in a report about the show on Indiewire.

According to the piece, Andrea Arnold was hired by the show as director every episode for the second season. She was allegedly promised “free rein” over the show. However, per ” sources close to the production,” the show was “yanked away” from Arnold in post-production and handed back to Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed all first season episodes.

Per the story’s sources, it was “always the plan” for Vallée to re-enter the picture in order to unify the styles of the two seasons, but Arnold had reportedly never been made aware of that by showrunner David E. Kelley or anyone else. Furthermore, Arnold was initially hired because, at the time of production of the second season, Vallée was busy directing another HBO series, Sharp Objects.

While Vallée advocated for Arnold’s hiring, per Indiewire, the two never spoke. The same goes for show runner Kelley, who wrote the episodes. He allegedly only visited the set more than a couple of times.

Kidman and Witherspoon, both of whom are executive producers, “were said to have loved working with Arnold and trusted her intrinsically.”

But while Arnold and her team were editing the season in London, Vallée was assembling a cut of his own in Montreal. Eventually, reshoots were scheduled for which Arnold was present although Vallée had been said to be calling the shots. In addition, Arnold’s touches were removed from the episodes, which may be one reason why many of the Season 2 episodes were shorter than the allotted 50 minutes.

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The Indiewire story does not address the backstory involving the season’s infamous “ice cream cone scene.” Per Glamour, a photo surfaced from the set last year that appeared to show Witherspoon’s character preparing to throw an ice cream cone at Streep’s, although when the episode aired the cone was not thrown.

Big Little Lies is based on Liane Moriarty’s novel and was originally planned as a limited series. However, when the first season in 2017 was so successful — the series won several Emmys including Outstanding Limited Series — that a second season was soon ordered. Five of the season’s seven episodes have aired, with the last two scheduled for July 14 and 21.