HBO’s The Undoing debuts in May and creator/writer David E. Kelley was joined on the TCA stage by fellow EP and director Susanne Bier as well as EP/star Nicole Kidman and actors Hugh Grant and Noma Dumezweni to talk about the six-part limited series based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s book You Should Have Known.
This marks another collaboration between Kelley and Kidman who worked together on two seasons of the Emmy-winning Big Little Lies. That said, the two were asked if we can expect more from the ladies from Monterey County.
Kidman said they would love to make a third season, but the pair have been focusing on The Undoing and the rest of the cast is just too busy. “I don’t think we’d ever get Laura [Dern] back!” she laughs. She also mentions how Zoe Kravitz is going to be busy in the new Batman film. “Everyone’s working,” she adds. “Hopefully we can collide again at one point.”
The Undoing centers on Grace Sachs (Kidman), who is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. She’s a successful therapist, has a devoted husband (Grant) and young son (Noah Jupe) who attends an elite private school in New York City. Overnight a chasm opens in her life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.
The privileged and affluent characters folded into scandalous circumstances is bound to draw comparisons to Big Little Lies but for Kelley, there was nothing intentional about the similarities.
“We gravitate to material that fascinates us,” he said. “In this piece, the theme and core of denial that the characters lived in drew me in. He said that the story “gives rise to delusions that have a surprising tenacity” and how for many, “the facts are the facts but the stories are better.”
The Undoing and Big Little Lies explore the constructs of the perfect world and Kelley said beyond that, the two series have little in common.
Kelley is known for telling female-driven stories and with the need for more representation front and center, many think that perhaps more women should be writing these stories. For him, he is all for it and although he wrote The Undoing, he said Bier took full control. “She’s the mastermind of this piece. We are all better off having her in charge and in control,” he said.
Kidman said it was a very collaborative environment on set and feels like six hours of cinema that Bier created. She said that Kelley was great when it came to collaborating. “Whatever I bring, he absorbed it and really listened,” she added.
The Undoing also stars Noah Jupe, Donald Sutherland, Edgar Ramirez, Lily Rabe, Ismael Cruz Cordova and Matilda De Angelis.
Kelley executive produces The Undoing through David E. Kelley Prods. and serves as showrunner. Bier executive produces and will direct all episodes. Kidman executive produces with Per Saari through their Blossom Films alongside Bruna Papandrea via Made Up Stories, Stephen Garrett and Celia Costas.