“Big Little Lies” stars and producers Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon have both finally addressed the controversy surrounding producer interference in filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s creative control over the second season of the hit HBO series.
Celebrated “Fish Tank” and “Wuthering Heights” helmer Arnold took over from first season director Jean-Marc Vallee on the sophomore run of the program, and was said to be granted free rein by HBO to shoot it in her own style and tone.
Halfway through that run’s airing, with fans complaining that something seemed off about the finished episodes, news came to light that all of Arnold’s was reworked and recut in post-production by both Vallee and the series’ showrunner David E. Kelley and that Arnold wasn’t aware of it and was “devastated”.
HBO quickly shut down the report, dismissing it last week during the Television Critics Association press tour where programming president Casey Bloys said: “There’s a lot of misinformation around that subject. To clarify a couple of things. There would not be a second season without Andrea. We’re indebted to her. She got an extraordinary performance out of the cast. As anyone who works in TV knows, the director doesn’t have final creative control. That creative control was taken from a director is a false premise.”
Now, Kidman and Witherspoon have weighed in during an interview with EW and are throwing their support behind the network:
“Witherspoon: “In our minds, there is no controversy. There was a lot of misinformation and no credited sources on any of the information… [The series is] an incredibly collaborative process […] and the idea that anyone was mistreated and not communicated with is completely not true.”
Kidman: “The most important thing for us it that the audience showed up for the show in season 2. For the viewers to have shown up with such a voracious appetite was really lovely.”
Despite the disruption, the series has been a ratings success with the second season finale pulling in 3.1 million viewers in Live+Same Day and leading to suggestions a third season could happen.