Meryl Streep touts complex new season of 'Big Little Lies'

Oscar winner plays grieving mother

By Marianne Garvey, CNN
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Meryl Streep

(CNN) - There's a golden rule in Hollywood: Meryl Streep can star in whatever project she wants to star in. So, when writing "Big Little Lies" Season 2, Liane Moriarty, who wrote the novel the series was based on and is a producer on the show, had a trick up her sleeve. She created a new character -- the grieving mother of deceased Perry (played in season 1 by Alexander Skarsgård) -- and named her Mary Louise.

"Mary Louise is my actual legal name," Streep said during a panel discussion at The Wing SoHo on Wednesday.

Streep said she joined the project without reading a script and thought the first season of the show "was the greatest thing on TV." Nicole Kidman, who was also on the panel, first revealed Moriarty's "secret" to landing Streep back in February.

"That was Liane Moriarty. That was her telepathic message to you Meryl, because [the cast] did not know that. We did not know that that was your name," Kidman said. "Liane wrote the novella and said, 'Get me Meryl Streep.'"

Kidman called the new season "jaw-dropping."

'Big Little Lies' Season 2 already looks criminally good

Streep praised the complex portrayal of the women in the series and said that "Big Little Lies" viewers will see her character head into a "dark place" following the murder of her son.

"Her son is dead. I thank God I don't have that experience, but imagining it, just going into the dark place of imagining it. That feeling of protecting him while he's gone is still there. [The] motherhood never stops," she explained.

Streep also thanked Kidman and co-star Reese Witherspoon for having the foresight to option the book rights for the screen in 2014.

"I was of a generation that waited to be asked to dance and I'm so admiring of you for getting on the balls of your feet and looking for material," Streep told Witherspoon, who also sat on the panel.

A giddy Witherspoon then asked for whoever filmed that to send it to her so she could "post it to Instagram tomorrow" for proof that it actually happened.

Shailene Woodley, who plays Jane Chapman in the series, was not at the panel talk, but earned high praise from Streep. "Shailene is a miracle in this thing -- a miracle," Streep said. "She's so open to the world, her pores are open, she shows everything."

Witherspoon echoed that, calling Episode 2 of the new season "light's out."

"Big Little Lies" premieres June 9 on HBO.

(CNN and HBO share parent company WarnerMedia.)

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