Interview ANGELA MOLLARD
iane Moriarty was driving back from the snow and on the phone to a Hollywood producer when she uttered a sentence she never thought she would say: “I’m writing a character for Meryl Streep.” The author was updating the Big Little Lies team on how the story for the second season was coming along. “Oh Liane,” the producer on the other end teased. “You’ve become so Hollywood. Listen to you saying, ‘Get me Meryl.’” While she laughs at her own audacity, Moriarty clearly has chutzpah – and clout. While writing a character for Streep may have been a fanciful pipedream cooked up in a moment of whimsy for the 51-year- old Sydney author, the legendary actor liked the role so much that she did, indeed, sign on to star in the multi award-winning series. Filming is now complete, but Moriarty is still incredulous – and not
just about Meryl. She was initially reluctant to write a follow-up to her bestselling book, but ideas on how to propel the story forward kept sneaking into her head. “I was talking to my sister and she said I should only do it if it was fun to do, so I came up with the idea of bringing in the mothers’ mothers because they’re so important in our lives.”
The first HBO series featured Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley as a group of mums living in a beachside suburb, but Moriarty wanted to extend the cast. With Streep in mind for the role of the motherin-law to Celeste, who is played by Kidman, she cheekily named the character Mary Louise after discovering it was Streep’s real name. In the end it was Kidman who secured the celebrated actor for the part. “Nicole sent me an email saying, ‘Ask and you shall receive,’” Moriarty says. “It’s all extraordinary and laughably surreal.”
Life is about to become even more extraordinary for the author. Her new novel,
While critical and commercial success bring huge rewards, they can also bring more pressure. Having had two books debut in the top spot on The New York Times bestseller list, she’d naturally like Nine Perfect Strangers to be as well received and admits to a sense of foreboding. But she tries to dismiss expectations – both others’ and her own. She’ll never forget carrying her daughter into a cafe and receiving a message saying The Husband’s Secret had made it onto the celebrated list.