My big little hit
It’s not too late to catch up with Nicole Kidman’s racy murder mystery Big Little Lies. It’s so addictive you’ll be ready for Monday’s finale in no time...
T his has to be the steamiest show of the year. The jealousy, deceit, simmering rage, adultery and, quite frankly, pretty raunchy sex among the yummy mummies of an affluent beach community on the rugged California coast are surprising enough. But what’s made racy series Big Little Lies such a talking point is not just the subject matter, but the fact that it’s two Hollywood A-listers starring on the small screen – and one of them, Nicole Kidman, takes her top off in just about every episode.
Based on the novel by Australian author Liane Moriarty, it’s the brainchild of Nicole and Reese Witherspoon, who pooled their individual production companies to bring it to the screen. It follows the fortunes of five women and their families in the super-rich town of Monterey. Episode one started with a murder at a school fundraising ball – but so far we don’t even know who died, let alone who did it.
Nicole’s portrayal of domestic violence victim Celeste is extraordinary, by turns sizzling with passion and seething with resentment at her abusive husband Perry. ‘The abuse scenes had to be authentic,’ says Nicole. ‘We couldn’t use a stunt double. I’d be bruised all over afterwards and there were nights when I’d go home and sit in the bath and cry.’
Reese plays Celeste’s best friend, strong-willed Madeline, while the cast also includes Laura Dern as neurotic businesswoman Renata, Shailene Woodley as less glamorous single mother Jane, and Zoë Kravitz (Lenny’s daughter) as Bonnie, a yoga instructor now married to Madeline’s ex, Nathan. But at its heart it’s a really perplexing mystery. Anyone who’s enjoyed Agatha Christie will love that, while anyone who enjoyed the glossy locations in The Night Manager will be waiting for each episode not only to appreciate the plot, but also to feast on the beauty of the double-fronted fridges! It’s not too late to catch up with all six previous episodes via Sky On Demand or Now TV before the identity of the victim – and the killer – is revealed in Monday’s finale. Until then, here’s all you need to know...
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
The series centres on a group of parents who all have children starting at the same exclusive primary school. It opened with a murder during the school’s Hepburn & Elvis-themed ball, before rewinding to introduce us to the chain of events that led up to the crime. Enter Jane, a single mother new to the area who is taken under the wing of Madeline and Celeste. When Jane’s son Ziggy is accused of trying to choke Renata’s daughter on the first day of school, the dark secret in her past catches up with her.
But Jane’s not the only one hiding something, and we soon learn more about these women’s secrets as petty jealousies and family rifts reveal themselves. ‘These characters are not bad, they’re not good, they’re just who they are,’ says Reese. ‘I’ve been every woman in this show – married, divorced, single mother. I’ve had children with one husband and another with a second. So I related to each character.’
THE HOT HUBBIES
Alexander Skarsgård brings the sex factor to the male cast as despicable Perry. But his co-stars are also sending hearts a-flutter. Adam Scott, Madeline’s husband Ed, has charmed audiences with his sweet nature while her ex-husband Nathan (James Tupper) brings a bad-boy element. Jeffrey Nordling, who plays Renata’s husband Gordon, played scheming Nick Bolen in Desperate Housewives.
THE STEAMY SEX SCENES
Big Little Lies doesn’t shy away when it comes to the sex and violence between Celeste and Perry. While some of Nicole’s scenes are quite harrowing, she has many risqué on-screen moments such as when she performs a striptease for Perry via webcam and when the couple get raunchy in the shower, the kitchen and even in their walk-in wardrobe. There’s also a full-frontal from Alexander Skarsgård, and some racy love scenes for Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern too.
SO WHO MURDERED WHO?
Intriguingly, all the parents could be murderers – or victims. A popular theory is that Perry will die, the killer being any of the central players. But we’re not even sure if it’s a man who dies. Madeline has the potential to snap and murder Renata, Nathan or Bonnie, or become the victim at the hands of either of the two women. Nathan might lose it with Ed, but Ed’s also reaching boiling point and may go for Nathan. Or will Jane get revenge for her past?
WILL THERE BE MORE?
The inevitable question is will there be another series, set either before the first or after it? Reese has been talking to screenwriter David E Kelley, who adapted the book for series one. Nicole’s in favour too. ‘There probably needs to be a season two,’ she’s said. ‘There are so many deep stories ripe for mining.’
Watch this space...
Nicole as Celeste with Reese as Madeline. Right: Nicole with Alexander Skarsgård as her husband Perry and their children