The team behind “Big Little Lies” had a lot to celebrate on Wednesday evening: the premiere of the new season of their critically-acclaimed show, reuniting with each other on the red carpet of the New York City event and, oh, Meryl Streep.
Streep, who’s said she joined Season 2 of “Big Little Lies” without even reading a script, posed for photos with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz and the rest of the cast, before she was whisked away, smiling at reporters, to head into the screening at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where she was shouting names from the audience to ensure HBO boss Casey Bloys thanked all the actors on the show.
While Streep didn’t chat too much with press, the rest of her cast seized the moment to rave about her during interviews.
When asked what is the biggest change to the second season, which premieres June 9, Kathryn Newton, who plays Witherspoon’s daughter on the series, exclaimed, “Meryl Streep!”
Streep, who already has three Emmys among her avalanche of awards, will be playing the mother to Alexander Skarsgård’s character, who was murdered at the end of the first season of the HBO hit. If the trailer is any indication, Streep’s character does not get along with Kidman’s Celeste or Witherspoon’s Madeline.
“I approve,” Skarsgård quipped when asked his reaction to Streep playing his on-screen mother. He joked, “I had casting approval and I said, ‘Yeah, Meryl can play my mom. That’s alright. She works. She’ll do.'”
Skarsgård has not seen the episodes yet — and stayed mum on whether he’ll appear in flashbacks — but he revealed he has read scripts for the entire season, and confirmed Streep’s arrival shakes things up. “I’m very excited for people to see it — the way she comes into the dynamic of the group and asking some hard questions. It creates a lot of tension and it’s great drama.”
Merrin Dungey, who plays the detective that’ll be looking into the murder cliffhanger, wouldn’t reveal whether she shares scenes with Streep, fearing she’d give away her storyline, but Denis O’Hare, who plays a new character this season — a lawyer — hinted that he may be involved in Streep’s on-screen scheme.
“I share a lot of scenes with Meryl Streep,” O’Hare says. “And I have a pretty intense scene with Nicole [Kidman].”
Laura Dern, who stars as Renata on the series, said the first day with Streep was like a dream, explaining the on-set vibe “like you’re a little girl dreaming of becoming an actor and working with Meryl Streep. That’s where I dreamt as a child and it’s a great extraordinary gift to have come true.”
When asked what she took away from working alongside Streep, Dern said, “What an incredible teammate she is. Her goal is to make all the stories, even if she’s not a part of those stories, resonate and remain honest and relatable — and that is a great lesson and reminder.”
When Adam Scott, who plays Witherspoon’s husband, first met Streep, Dern helped out her co-star, who told Variety, “I still can’t believe that I”m on a TV show that Meryl Streep is also on. That’s still weird.” He recalled, “The first time I met her was at the table read and she was so sweet and we chatted for just a second and she moved on to talk to someone else, and I was just sort of standing there, and immediately, Laura Dern came up to me and she was like, ‘I saw the whole thing. You did very well.’”
“Everyone knows, as an actor, you’re waiting your whole life to meet Meryl Streep, let alone work with Meryl Streep and be on a show with Meryl Streep,” Scott said, “It was as incredible as you would imagine.”
James Tupper, who plays Zoe Kravitz’s on-screen love interest, summed up Streep’s presence best. “I’ll be honest with you,” he said. “It was like meeting the Queen of England — you’re like, ‘Your majesty.'”
Additional reporting by Daniel D’Addario.