This post contains spoilers about the finale of HBO's Big Little Lies.
If you've wondered how Big Little Lies so expertly captured an abusive relationship, the answer is heartbreaking.
During an interview with Elle backstage after the 2017 Emmy Awards, Liane Moriarty revealed the truth behind her inspiration for Perry Wright's (Alexander Skarsgård) abusive relationship with his wife, Celeste (Nicole Kidman). Moriarty, who wrote the novel the HBO series was based on, said Perry was inspired by "a really horrible ex-boyfriend" in her own life.
"It came from a really horrible ex-boyfriend who I took great pleasure in killing off," Moriarty told Elle. "First in the book, and then it was very nice to see it happen in the series. Then Nicole took it from there."
In the show, we saw Celeste and Perry attend therapy together, before Celeste began meeting with the therapist alone. Plenty of actual therapists praised Big Little Lies' portrayal of the experience for being realistic, though it was often difficult to watch. The therapist, Dr. Amanda Reisman (Robin Weigert), encourages Celeste to create a plan for leaving her husband before he becomes abusive towards their children. Perry eventually discovers Celeste's plan to move into a new apartment — and Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), whose book character is an abuse survivor herself, pushes him to his death.
During the Emmys backstage interview, Kidman also talked to Elle about why it was difficult to play Celeste.
"I didn't quite realize how it was going to affect me," the actress told the magazine. "It affected me more than anything I've ever done. Doing that for five months and then going home, I had to sort of keep it quiet, I was trying to be stoic about it, and be secret about it, but it penetrated my psyche."
Celeste and Perry's story wasn't an easy one to tell. But Moriarty and Big Little Lies showed the nuances of an abusive relationship in a powerful way — it's something we need to talk about, even if it's not easy.
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