‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2: Release date, plot, cast and everything we know so far

HBO drama set to return in summer 2019

Big Little Lies season 1 was an engrossing look at the rivalry, deception, hubris and self-discovery at the heart of American suburbia and, after much too-ing and fro-ing, the HBO show is due to arrive for a second outing in 2019.

With the show’s all-star cast (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and more) set to return, and some exciting new additions (including a role for Meryl Streep), here’s everything we can expect from season 2.

Warning: Spoilers for Big Little Lies season 1 below.

When will Big Little Lies return for season 2?

Big Little Lies is confirmed to return to screens in 2019, with HBO including season 2 of the series as part of its list of shows coming over the course of this year.

Star Nicole Kidman recently suggesting that the second season will air in the summer, telling Andy Cohen on CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live broadcast: “It’s looking like June. I think June.”

However, no firm due date has yet been officially announced. More info when we have it.

Where will you be able to watch it?

Big Little Lies season 2 will air on HBO in the US. The first season of the show was broadcast by Sky Atlantic in the UK and Radio Times report that the second instalment will air on the same channel this time round.

Has filming finished?

Yes. The cast appears to have wrapped up filming the second season back in August 2018, with star Nicole Kidman taking to Instagram to confirm the news.

Kidman wrote in her post: “That’s a wrap on #BigLittleLies Season 2 filming! What a beautiful journey this has been with my Monterey 5 sisters and our passionate dedicated crew. Thank you HBO for the amazing opportunity and thank you Andrea Arnold for being our fearless leader, and of course the one and only Meryl Streep for believing in us. I love you all. Xx”. See that beneath.

Why was a second season in doubt?

Following the first season’s finale in April 2017, there was initially confusion over whether the show would return for a second run. Firstly, season 1 had used all the source material from Liane Moriarty’s original novel of the same name and secondly, the show’s director Jean-Marc Vallée was pretty emphatic as to why the show shouldn’t continue.

“This is the perfect ending,” he said in 2017. “There is no way; there’s no reason to make a Season two. That was meant to be a one-time deal, and it’s finishing in a way where it’s for the audience to imagine what can happen. If we do a season two, we’ll break that beautiful thing and spoil it.”

Executive producer David E Kelley also admitted months later that a second season was never part of the plan, telling Variety: “It was not something we planned on. It was conceived as a one-off. In fact, it was a given going into it that it would only be one year because of the acting ensemble we had… These are all people with big careers with a lot of projects lined up and they all had just one-year deals.”

There was also controversy over how HBO had billed the first season. Big Little Lies won the 2017 Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series and a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries, despite the show then returning for second season, which would have made it ineligible for these categories.

HBO responded to the criticism in a statement, saying: “The idea to continue the story came about only after the show aired. None of the cast or filmmakers had holdover contracts. Each deal had to be renegotiated, which is proof that no ongoing series was contemplated. Additionally, no source material beyond Liane Moriarty’s novel existed. The accusation that HBO was ‘gaming the system’ is baseless and undeserved.”

Big Little Lies

Which cast members will return?

In October 2017, Kelley said that he was “optimistic” about the show’s original cast returning for season 2 because “everyone wants to do it”. Reese Witherspoon (Madeline Mackenzie) and Nicole Kidman (Celeste Wright) were then announced to have signed on, with the pair reportedly earning $1 million each per episode.

In February 2018, Shailene Woodley (Jane Chapman) confirmed that she would be a part of season 2, with Zoë Kravitz (Bonnie Carlson), Laura Dern (Renata Klein), Adam Scott (Ed Mackenzie), James Tupper (Nathan Carlson), Jeffrey Nordling (Gordon Klein) and Iain Armitage (Ziggy Chapman) later announced to also be returning.

Alexander Skarsgård, whose character Perry Wright is pushed down a flight of stairs at the end of season 1, could potentially return too, despite viewers being led to assume that he’s dead. The actor told NBC last year: “I don’t even know if I’m really dead or not. I feel okay right now but we’ll see.”

Last August, Witherspoon posted a flurry of photos of the cast on the set of season 2:

Who’s joining the cast?

Acting legend Meryl Streep has been confirmed to join the cast, taking on the role of Mary Louise Wright, the mother of Skarsgård’s Perry and mother-in-law of Celeste (Kidman), who arrives in Monterey to check on her grandchildren and in search of answers.

Appearing on Late Night with Seth Meyers last year, Witherspoon revealed how Streep’s involvement came about.

“Well, she sent an email to Nicole and I. And it said, ‘Okay, I read the part and I love it and I’m going to do it’,” Witherspoon explained. “And I like dropped the phone, like mic drop, but I phone dropped.”

“And then I called Nicole and I was like, ‘Is this real life? Is this really happening?’ And then I got off the phone with Nicole and I, like, hugged myself gently for a minute and said, ‘This is really happening. You’re really working with Meryl Streep’.”

Last April, Kidman shared a first glimpse of Streep in character with a photo from the set posted to Instagram. See that below.

Other new cast members to be confirmed include Crystal R Fox as Bonnie’s mother Elizabeth, Martin Donovan as Bonnie’s father Martin Howard, Mo McRae as school teacher Michael Perkins, Douglas Smith as Jane’s co-worker Corey Brockfield, Poorna Jagannathan as Katie Richmond and American Horror Story star Denis O’Hare as Ira Farber.

Will there be a new director?

Yes. After directing season 1, Vallée has now parted ways with Big Little Lies, with Reese Witherspoon saying at last year’s Golden Globes: “Unfortunately, he was busy. We did try to accommodate him, but we did want to get the season started soon, because I think the people want it soon.”

Season 2 will instead be directed by Andrea Arnold, known for her TV work on Transparent and I Love Dick as well as films Fish Tank, American Honey and the 2011 movie adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

“We’re just thrilled to welcome her to our family,” Witherspoon said of the news. “And we’re just thrilled we get to do this again together.”

What’s the plot of season 2?

Season 2 will “continue to explore the malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting,” according to an official synopsis.

“Woodley’s character Jane Chapman will be processing Perry’s sudden death in the storyline, while trying to build a new life for herself and her son, Ziggy. Dern, who received both an Emmy and Golden Globe for her performance, will be reprising her role as Renata Klein, a woman who will be faced with new challenges in her marriage. Bonnie Carlson, Zoë Kravitz’s character, will confront her past while struggling to come to terms with Perry’s death.”

Is season 2 based on a book?

While season 1 was a screen adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 titular book, it doesn’t look like a full novel will be published in conjunction with season 2. The new season was, however, based on Moriarty’s writing, and a literary sequel of sorts could still potentially see the light of day in novella form.

HBO’s president of programming, Casey Bloys, told Vulture: “[Moriarty] came up with a novella, which was key. David [E. Kelley] took it and thought, ‘Is there something I can do with it?’. Reese and Nicole were involved, and they felt that there was more life in the characters. Everybody approached it from a place of love and care [for] these characters and this property, and again, with a little dose of skepticism along the way.”

Has a trailer been released?

A full-length trailer hasn’t surfaced yet, but we did get a sneak-peek of what to expect during HBO’s First Look of 2019 showreel.

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