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March 25, 2017 01:07 PM

Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon have been close friends since playing mother and daughter the set of 2014’s Wild and bonding during its corresponding five-month press tour.

So imagine the surprise Dern’s mother Diane Ladd felt when she turned on HBO’s Big Little Lies to find the two actresses playing heated rivals facing-off in an affluent northern California town.

Of course like any mom, Ladd — a decorated actress herself — was on the side of her daughter, right?

“My mother called me…and goes, ‘You didn’t prepare me for what a bitch you are,’ ” Dern, 50, told Witherspoon while in conversation with The New York Times. “I’m like, ‘I didn’t know I was supposed to prepare you for any character I play!’ And she said, ‘Yeah, but you’re a bitch to Reese.’ “

For what it’s worth, Witherspoon’s mom isn’t too happy with her character either.

“My mother called me the other day — Laura, I didn’t tell you this — [she] was like: ‘I don’t like that show. I just don’t like it,’ ” Witherspoon, 41, confessed. “She’s like: ‘You’re too mean. It just bothers me how mean you are.’ “

In the hit HBO miniseries, Dern plays Renata Klein, a high-strung, wealthy businesswoman who feuds with Witherspoon’s scheming type-A character Madeline Mackenzie. The show also stars Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz.

Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon
Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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Of course, the two pals aren’t letting their on-screen war affect them off screen. “When I met Reese, I knew she would be my family for the rest of my life,” Dern said. “And I don’t say that lightly.”

“She’s going to piss me off at some point, though,” Witherspoon joked, adding upon Dern’s suggestion they go to therapy that she really meant “a bar.”

“Exactly,” Dern said.

While they hit the bar, their families — including their opinionated mothers — will continue to bond. Last year, the women and their kids even all spent Mother’s Day together.

The bond carries down to the next generation of Dern and Witherspoons.

“Our daughters go out to lunch and dinner and talk, even though they’re just teenagers,” Witherspoon said. “It’s nice for them to have a place to talk about their shared experiences as children of actresses, children in show business.”

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