Though some still seem to think the gender pay gap is just a question of negotiation skills, the lack of opportunities for women in Hollywood is very real — and even the most successful actresses remember their tough days as one of the women on set all too well.
So when a project like #BigLittleLies appears on the horizon, featuring a trio of talented actresses as the three main characters, we can all appreciate the creation of one less show that leaves its women in the wife/girlfriend category. As Reese Witherspoon explained at #HBO's TCA presentation, that's exactly why she decided to star in and produce the thrilling series.
'I Love That It's About Women Coming Together'
An adaptation of the book of the same name by Liane Moriarty, Big Littles Lies stars #ReeseWitherspoon, #NicoleKidman and #ShaileneWoodley as three mothers in the small town of Monterrey. Woodley plays Jane, who's new to the town and immediately befriended by Madeline and Celeste, two close friends and mothers played by Witherspoon and Kidman. They're joined by #LauraDern and #ZoeKravitz, and the whole plot quickly takes a turn for the dramatic.
What was really important for Witherspoon was the composition of the cast:
"I love that it's about women coming together and making something happen very quickly. [...] I was excited to come to women with parts that I'm excited about. All these talented women playing wives and girlfriends, I just had enough."
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The fact that it wasn't only one woman, but several carrying the show also allowed them to build a strong collective performance:
"For 25 years, I've been the only woman on set. They call it the Smurfette Syndrome: There's 100 [male] smurfs around and only one woman. […] Here, I'd call Nicole and Laura, and we nurtured each other's performances. It's really a collective performance for all of us."
Fighting For Change: We Need More Stories Led By Women
After reading the script, then, Witherspoon decided to step in as a producer as well, and reached out to the rest of the cast. She was also the one to get Jean-Marc Vallée, her director on Wild, to step behind the camera:
"I'm passionate because things have to change. We have to see women as they really are, and not just in movies with a tiny budget. […] We need to see these things because we as human beings learn from art, and what can we do if we never see that reflected?"
Her co-stars couldn't agree more, with Kidman explaining that this type of scenario was unfortunately still rare:
"There are five great roles here [for women]. It's very, very rare."
Let's cross fingers that with the involvement of producers such as Witherspoon, the word "rare" will soon be deemed irrelevant when it comes to strong female characters.
HBO's Big Little Lies premieres February 19.
Will you watch Big Little Lies? Who's your favorite female character on TV?