January 24, 2018 04:29 PM

 

HBO has landed a Hollywood icon for season 2 of Big Little Lies.

Meryl Streep is joining the acclaimed series, EW has learned.

In a very rare TV role for the actress, the three-time Oscar winner has signed on to play the character Mary Louise Wright — the mother-in-law of Nicole Kidman’s character Celeste Wright and mother of Alexander Skarsgard’s Perry Wright.

Streep’s previous major television role was the 2003 miniseries Angels in America. She also did a three-episode stint on Showtime’s Web Therapy in 2010.

Landing Streep, 68, is a major coup for the network, and is sure to prove a formidable name thrown into awards season. Big Little Lies is already an awards magnet, its freshman season dominating the TV categories at the recent Golden Globes and also winning eight Emmys last fall. Given that Streep has been nominated for an Oscar a record 21 times — including for her current role in The Post — she’ll be a frontrunner before her performance is even seen.

WATCH: Nicole Kidman Felt ‘Humiliated’ After Filming Raw ‘Big Little Lies’ Sex Scenes

Big Little Lies season 2 is expected to air in 2019. Here’s a bit more on the project, which was originally billed as a limited series last year until critical and awards acclaim motivated HBO to make new deals with the show’s producers and cast for another round: Kidman’s Wright is “reeling from her husband Perry’s death, Celeste is adrift, but determined to fight for her family and find the woman she once was.” While Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline Martha Mackenzie is “finding that good intentions don’t always yield good consequences, Madeline confronts the truth of Perry’s death, while coming to terms with her own marriage and traditional notions of family.”

Once again, David E. Kelley will serve as the showrunner, though filmmaker Andrea Arnold is taking over directing duties for all seven episodes.

One big question will be whether Big Little Lies will be submitted again in the Emmys and Golden Globes limited series categories (which tend to have less competition than the drama series categories). The move drew criticism last year after HBO renewed the program for another season — making it not-so limited. HBO explained that they did not originally intend for the show to be ongoing and “the accusation that HBO was ‘gaming the system’ is baseless and undeserved.” So for the second season, does HBO double down and submit in the limited series categories again — even though their previous “we didn’t know” defense would no longer hold true? Or does HBO shift Big Little Lies into the drama category and put Streep, Kidman and Witherspoon against tougher competition? One thing’s for sure: HBO almost certainly doesn’t want Big Little Lies going head to head with the final season of Game of Thrones in the same categories in the same show.

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