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Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene WoodleyLaura Dern and Zoe Kravitz brought high wattage star power to the L.A. premiere of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” at the TCL Chinese Theatre Tuesday night. Hugs were plentiful on the block-long press line as the large ensemble company including Adam Scott, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling and the kids who play the onscreen children celebrated the layered drama that focuses on family strife and a murder mystery in a Monterey, California community.

Executive producer Bruna Papandrea explained the lure of the story. “Ultimately, the theme is what really lies beneath people’s lives. I have not seen a story of female friendship and community represented that way, with so many complex women.” Liane Moriarty, the Australian author of the best-selling book upon which the series is based, was effusive in her enthusiasm at the screen adaptation, “I’m thrilled with it. It looks gorgeous. I also love the music. I can’t believe they got star after star after star. In Australia, we call Nicole Kidman ‘Our Nic’ so to have her playing Celeste so perfectly, I think that was particularly special and I think Reese was made to play Madeline.”

Kidman said her biggest takeaway from the project was her co-stars, “I got to make four girlfriends that will be my girlfriends for life.” Dern echoed that sentiment, saying, “To finally come together and to make something together was incredible. Not to mention, when do you see five women on a red carpet together, supporting each other? We carry our lives and share them with each other. It made it a very special experience.”

Woodley pointed out, “The beauty of working with a cast like this is that it was inter-generational; the weaving of wisdom is something we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Another universal sentiment among the cast was the unique experience of working with visionary director Jean-Marc Vallee, who employed hand-held cameras and dispensed with rehearsals in favor of shooting continually, so actors were constantly in character. Nordling shared, “It felt like a live performance.”

After the screening, guests crossed Hollywood Boulevard in the light rain to party on the main floor of the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, where HBO decked out the huge space with tables filled with comfort food such as steak, sushi, mac and cheese, miso salmon, vegetable cobb salad and assorted bite-size desserts. Guests posed for GIF fun in the Otter Bay playground and took home stuffed hippos (seen in the show) as souvenirs.

“Big Little Lies” premieres Feb. 19 on HBO.