Big Little Lies: Meryl Streep told director Andrea Arnold her character was ‘none of her business’

The Oscar magnet actor was reportedly so protective of her character that she refused input from the show’s behind-the-scenes crew

Adam White
Wednesday 24 July 2019 09:48
Big Little lies season 2 clip: Coffee shop

Meryl Streep reportedly refused notes from director Andrea Arnold and other Big Little Lies crew that insinuated her character on the series was villainous, in the most overt indication of possible tension on the set of the controversial second season of the series.

Speaking to the Vanity Fair podcast Still Watching, actress Poorna Jagannathan, who portrayed the custody lawyer for Nicole Kidman’s character Celeste, revealed that Streep was incredibly protective of her character on set, and “wouldn’t entertain” insinuation that she should “up the ante” on the character’s villainy.

“I’ve never seen an actor be so protective about their character,” Jagannathan said. “If you’re on set and the director and the producer and the writer say something, you will step out of character, take the notes, and then go back in. That’s just what I’ve seen.

“And Meryl was – it wasn’t that she wouldn’t entertain any comments, she just wouldn’t entertain any comments that insinuated that she was the villain of the piece. Or any comments that asked her to up the ante on the villain-ness. She was just very protective of her character. She would literally say, ‘That’s none of your business, I don’t think.’ I literally did a double take.”

Jagannathan did, however, insist that Streep wasn’t malicious in her interaction with the show’s behind-the-scenes crew. “She’s not saying that out of being rude or anything,” she explained. “She just has to protect the integrity and the humanity of her character.”

The second season of Big Little Lies, which earned mixed reviews for its finale last Sunday, had been blighted with controversy in recent weeks, after IndieWire revealed that Arnold, the British director behind films including Fish Tank and American Honey, had been locked out of the editing room and had her work cut to ribbons without her knowledge by director Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed the show’s first season.

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