It’s been a little more than two years since the surprise conclusion of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” Season 1. But for actress Nina Dobrev, currently starring on the CBS sitcom “Fam,” that finale still resonates.
“That finale episode was so powerful, especially because of the journey that all of those characters had gone on up until that point,” Dobrev told Variety‘s “My Favorite Episode” podcast. “I think that it was a perfect episode all around. Everything got wrapped up, the questions were answered, all of the characters found resolve, other than Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), but that’s OK. We don’t want him to have resolve.”
“Big Little Lies” was originally conceived as a one-time limited series, based on the best selling book by Liane Moriarty. But the drama was such a phenomenon, winning eight Emmy Awards, that it’s now set to return for a second season later this year. On this edition of “My Favorite Episode,” Dobrev discusses the Season 1 finale of “Big Little Lies,” “You Get What You Need,” which aired April 2, 2017. Listen below:
“I cannot wait for next season,” Dobrev said. “That bond and that womanhood is something that’s really strong. It’s great that we’re seeing it translated on film and in life and that it was right before the [#MeToo] movement, but the timing could not have been better.”
Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley starred in “Big Little Lies” as mothers in the Monterey Bay, Calif., area who become embroiled in a murder investigation, while Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, and Zoë Kravitz also starred. Jean-Marc Vallee directed Season 1, while famed TV creator David E. Kelley adapted the book into the series.
Kelley has been known as a broadcast TV maven for most of his career, but “Big Little Lies” was part of his shift into premium cable. Dobrev said she could relate to the idea of being stereotyped into one role.
“It’s what we’re all fighting all the time,” she said. “Just because someone is known to do one thing doesn’t mean they don’t have it in them to do everything. Everyone does. It’s just whether they’re given the opportunity. If I tell you how many vampire scripts I get offered, you would laugh. Of course at some point I want to tackle — I want to do an HBO show, I want to do premium cable. I’d love to do a period piece. I want to be a chameleon in that way.”
That was the idea behind tackling a multi-camera sitcom. “Fam,” which is wrapping up its freshman run on CBS, is unlike anything she’s done before.
Raised in Canada, Nina Dobrev started performing at a young age, eventually landing a role on the famous Canadian teen series “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” She’s been on countless TV series and films such as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Then Came You.” But fans still know her best from her six seasons on “The Vampire Diaries.”
Now, on “Fam,” Dobrev plays Clem, a young woman recently engaged to her boyfriend, Nick, played by Tone Bell. Their life gets more complicated, however, when Clem’s rebellious teenage sister comes to live with them.
“I was intrigued, terrified, and ultimately excited because it would be a new challenge for me,” she said. “Straight comedy, physical comedy. I’ve always wanted to do theater and this felt like a natural next step to achieving that goal.”
To study the form, Dobrev visited the sets of “Mom,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Last Man Standing,” and even got some advice from sitcom king Chuck Lorre.
“I had never been on a sitcom set my whole life,” she said. “I didn’t even know they shot with four cameras. I was very optimistically unprepared. I did my research before stepping on my own show. To be honest, I was still — despite the preparation and research — was still out of my element in many ways but I was luck because Tone Bell was very supportive. He has held my hand and helped me throughout this process.”
Dobrev said she enjoyed the schedule of a multi-cam — rehearsing all week, and then performing in front of a live audience. She also appreciated shooting in chronological order.
Meanwhile, asked to name her favorite episodes of her past work, Dobrev mentioned two “Vampire Diaries” episodes: “Lost Girls” (Season 1, Episode 6), which she appreciates as a period piece and the introduction of Katherine, and the Season 3 finale “The Departed,” which flashes back to Elena’s parents’ death.
“We got to shoot that underwater in a tank and made it look like a swamp,” she said. “Shooting that scene was really beautiful and impactful and sad. The experience of shooting under water, I love doing stunts, and having to be emotional and get that across underwater was interesting.”
Variety’s “My Favorite Episode With Michael Schneider” is where stars and producers gather to discuss their favorite TV episodes ever — from classic sitcoms to modern-day dramas — as well as pick a favorite episode from their own series. On “My Favorite Episode,” some of the biggest names in TV share their creative inspirations — and how those episodes influenced them.