Witherspoon, Kidman on why Hollywood is crazy for Quebec’s Jean-Marc Vallee
Their series is called “Big Little Lies” but here’s the truth: Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are crazy about the show’s French Canadian director.
“It’s hard for him to talk about how incredibly genius and amazing he is,” says Witherspoon about Jean-Marc Vallee, “but I’ve never worked with a director who felt the performances, who will sit and cry with you about what your character is feeling, is there with you.”
Montreal-born Vallee directed Witherspoon to an Oscar nomination in the 2014 film “Wild.” Kidman had never worked with him before “Big Little Lies,” but she, too, came away a big fan.
“He is an auteur,” says Kid- man. “To have somebody else step in and try to mimic his style and his voice, it wouldn’t have worked, so we were very lucky.”
Based on the bestseller from Liane Moriarty, “Big Little Lies” is set in the trendy, seaside town of Monterey, Calif. It is the story of three mothers: Madeline (Witherspoon), Celeste (Kidman) and Jane (Shailene Woodley from “Snowden”). Their worlds seem perfect at first, but scratch the surface with a well-manicured nail and up pop those big little lies.
Every relationship in town seems at risk. Beyond all the gossip lies death, perhaps even murder.
At first, Vallee was only signed on to direct one or two episodes, “and then we all attacked him and begged him to do more,” says Witherspoon, “because it just became clear, it was in him. These characters were part of a story he needed to tell, which is real.”
In 1995, Vallee directed and co-wrote one of the most successful Quebec films ever, “C.R.A.Z.Y.” Three films later, he directed Matthew McConaughey to a best actor Oscar in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
His move to premium TV continues with his next project, “Sharp Objects.” The eight-episode series is also at HBO, with another A-List actress, Amy Adams, in the lead.
Why is Vallee, 53, so in demand with top Hollywood stars? Those Oscar nominations haven’t hurt, but he’s also prized for his warm and compassionate working style.
On “Big Little Lies,” according to Witherspoon, he encouraged the main cast members “to have dinner and drink wine and talk about our lives and become real friends and actually share each other’s experience so that when you get to the actual scene on the day, there’s an understanding of each other that’s so much deeper than character.”
The seven-part series premieres Sunday on HBO Canada.