Problems? What problems? Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon have responded to the Big Little Lies controversy that has been raging for a few weeks now — and the women, who both starred in and executive produced the series, insist that the alleged behind-the-scenes scandal wasn’t nearly as controversial as it’s being made out to be.
So, what really happened? ICYMI, in early July reports broke that HBO and David E. Kelley took the show away from director Andrea Arnold and handed control over to executive producer (and former director) Jean-Marc Vallée in an attempt to recapture his season one style. When season three began airing, fans quickly noticed that the episodes seemed choppy and lacked editorial flow. Per IndieWire, there’s an explanation for this disjointedness — in late 2018, creative control was taken from Arnold and, after all of the episodes had been shot, the episodes were edited to feel more like Vallée’s work.
The backlash over this perceived slight reached a fever pitch in BLL’s final few weeks, with fans demanding that HBO “#ReleaseTheArnoldCut.” However, Witherspoon and Kidman told Entertainment Weekly in an interview published this week that they don’t feel as though the situation merits the drama. “In our minds, there is no controversy. We just love the show. We had such a great time doing it. There was a lot of misinformation and no credited sources on any of the information. This was an incredibly collaborative process for all of us and the idea that anyone was mistreated and not communicated with is completely not true,” Witherspoon explained.
I suspect that, on a practical level what happened with with Andrea Arnold on "Big Little Lies" really *is* very run-of-the-mill. But her absence of media presence/voice, both in pre-show publicity and the subsequent conversation, rightly or wrongly gives an impression.
— Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint) July 24, 2019
The explanation that makes the most sense is still Indiewire's: Arnold was hired to make an Andrea Arnold season and knew final cut would lie with David E. Kelley/HBO. And then everybody realized they were ACTUALLY getting an Andrea Arnold season and freaked. #TCA19
— Emily VanDerWerff (@tvoti) July 24, 2019
Both women also pointed to comments made by HBO executive Casey Bloys to reporters at TCA on July 24. When asked about the behind-the-scenes directorial drama, he said, “As anybody who works in television knows, the director typically does not have final creative control. So the idea that creative control was taken from the director, it’s just a false premise.”
To that, Kidman told EW, “He said it beautifully. That’s why we had Casey handle it. Obviously, he’s the head of HBO. He really said it beautifully.” Witherspoon added, “I was glad that Casey spoke so clearly about that and we are thrilled with the collaboration that yielded this season. It could have never been this show had it not been with these particular artists collaborating on this particular material.”
The women also went on to gush about how “wonderful” and “incredible” Arnold is, and how her true gift to BLL was in “mining the performances.” At this time, Arnold has not yet commented publicly on the controversy.