Big Little Lies saved one of its most heartbreaking flashbacks for the Season 2 finale this past Sunday when audiences saw a traumatic moment from the past of antagonist, Mary Louise Wright (Meryl Streep) play out during a pivotal moment in the episode, which scored a series-high for HBO. While Streep has dominated much of the season with her character, in the flashback that moved fans she was played by actress, Taylor Treadwell, who admitted to PopCulture.com exclusively she broke down playing the younger version of her idol.
"I have the best talent manager in the world. Her name is Cristy Coors Beasley. I know, it's a lot of names and as soon as he saw the breakdown, she was like, 'Oh my God, you're going to get this. You're getting this role, whether they like it or not,'" Treadwell told PopCulture.com. "I think that from what I remember, it was they were getting so many submissions that they were just overwhelmed with the amount of submissions they were getting."
Playing the younger version of Streep's character Mary Louise was almost like kismet for Treadwell. After all, for most of her life, people have been telling her she looks just like the multi-award winning actress. In fact, it's what helped her get the role.
"It took me a few weeks, but I think what she did is she put a side-by-side picture of me with a photo of Meryl and she called them and she said, 'Open the email right now and look at the picture. I'll hang up after you do that,'" she recalled. "They did, and she said that she did hear their jaw dropping when they saw who was in the photo and then I just went in."
Treadwell said people have been telling her she looked just like Streep since she was 12 years old, but that was not really what inspired her to become an actress. Although Streep is a big inspiration for any actor, Treadwell said she has wanted to act since she was at least 6 years old.
Although Treadwell only shot one day for Big Little Lies, she did get to work with Andrea Arnold, the credited director on every episode of the season. However, there was some controversy after it was revealed that Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallee extensively edited what was shot. Since all that happened in post-production, Treadwell had "zero sense" of anything odd happening behind the scenes.
Treadwell called Arnold a "fantastic director," adding, "I could see why they chose her for Big Little Lies, because there's a lot of moments that happen where there is no dialogue and Andrea's really good at capturing that and she's really talented."
Treadwell said there were more moments shot with her that did not make the final cut, but she was fine with that since the show really centers on the characters played by Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz.
"When they edited it, I think that the point was, it was frenetic and meant to really land in an impactful way. And I think it did the job," Treadwell said. "I filmed some stuff with some younger actors like... kids, like little babies, that I think they were just sweet moments of just me with them as the mother and then they had some stuff leading up, we had a fight, the kids were in the car. We filmed the scene in the car leading up to the car accident."
Treadwell did not meet Streep and said she wanted to "respect" the Oscar-winner's portrayal of the character. But at the same time, it was still important for her to be her own actress and forget trying to be like Streep.
"When you're filming it, it's like whatever is happening in the scene, you are reacting to that. And with the car accident, it was so intense that it was like something to go renew that day. And it was a very tough scene to film," Treadwell said.
Treadwell, who has been in dozens of movies and television shows in small roles, called her brief moment on Big Little Lies "one of the greatest things" to happen to her in her career.
HBO has not said if Big Little Lies would return for another season, but if it does, Treadwell will be ready to play Mary Louise in another flashback.
"That would be a miracle, an HBO miracle. Yeah," Treadwell said. "No matter what, I'm super grateful."
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