HBO is responding to reports of behind-the-scenes drama of Big Little Lies, which stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep.
According to reports (first published in IndieWire), HBO wrested control of the second season from director Andrea Arnold, and gave it back to Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed the first season. Sources say that the second season was given to Arnold after Vallée’s schedule with Sharp Objects made him unavailable, and that he publicly supported Arnold in her new role.
She was given free reign to direct the seven episodes as she saw fit, sources tell IndieWire. “Vallée and Arnold never spoke, nor was there ever a clear showrunner or creative producer who Arnold was answerable to on set,” IndieWire reports.
But when Vallée’s work at Sharp Objects was finished, he was handed complete control of the show.
“Post-production shifted from [Arnold in] London to Vallée’s home city of Montreal, where his own editorial team started cutting what is now airing on HBO. Soon after, 17 days of additional photography were scheduled,” according to IndieWire. Arnold directed the reshoots, but Vallée was an “extremely hands-on EP dictating not only what would be shot, but how it would be shot, oversight that Arnold never had during the initial shoot,” per IndieWire.
HBO released a statement, giving Arnold credit, but not addressing the controversy.
“There wouldn’t be a season two of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold," said HBO in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "We at HBO and the producers are extremely proud of her work. As with any television project, the executive producers work collaboratively on the series and we think the final product speaks for itself."
Big Little Lies has received positive reviews and debuted to the drama’s second-largest audience ever. There are two episodes remaining.
People on social media are outraged, calling HBO’s conduct “disgusting” and calling for Kidman and Witherspoon, who are both producers on the show, to respond.