The Australian actress executive produces the TV show and stars as Celeste, a woman whose marriage to Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) has turned violent and volatile. Nicole, 49, describes shooting the more disturbing scenes that document the couple’s turbulent relationship as “traumatising” but she didn’t realise the full extent they had on her until she found herself behaving out of sorts.
“One of the craziest things happened after we’d done a lot of violent scenes,” she recalled to The Edit, adding that while the scenes appear as flashes in the programme they had to shoot them over and over again to get the full effect. “I couldn’t sleep (after) and the next morning I went for a run to try and get some of Celeste’s energy out. I came back and I’d left my key, I couldn’t get in the door. It’s a glass door, so I got a rock and I threw the rock through the door. I’d never done anything like that before. And then I realised, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s how much I’m holding all this in, the anger, the pain’.”
It proved to be difficult for her husband Keith Urban too, as he had to watch Nicole return home from work each day suffering. Luckily he understood and supported her throughout, and the actress felt obligated to do justice to real-life traumas people suffer on a daily basis.
“The loss of a child, so many people in this world are going through that – the least I can do is act it with the deepest, most real truth I can find, and give that to them as a way of reaching out,” she noted.
Reese Witherspoon, who Nicole dubs as her “sister”, also exec produces and appears in the show, alongside the likes of Adam Scott and Zoe Kravitz. Together with their team, Nicole and Reese pitched Big Little Lies, based on writer Liane Moriarty’s novel, to several studios and were thrilled when each organisation wanted to sign it.