Pop quiz: What's the difference between movies and television, really? With outlets like HBO and Netflix blurring the line more and more in terms of form, content, and quality, it's getting hard to distinguish. Especially when you've got a roster of actors like the cast of Big Little Lies, your TV show might start to feel more like a feature film told in chapters than a television series. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson made it acceptable for movie stars to "slum it" on the small screen when they both earned Emmy nominations for their performances in HBO's True Detective — and there's been a veritable avalanche of big-name talent migrating to television ever since.
The upcoming HBO limited series based on Liane Moriarty's best-selling 2014 novel is case in point. The roster both in front of and behind the camera is impressive, starting with creator and writer David E. Kelly, who is responsible for bringing us such indelible TV classics as Picket Fences, The Practice, Ally McBeal, and Boston Public, earning himself a staggering 28 Emmy nominations (including 10 wins) in the process. Then there's director Jean-Marc Vallée, who directed the aforementioned McConaughey to his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club and also Reese Witherspoon to her second Oscar nomination for Wild.
Together, these two big names have attracted some top talent to star in Big Little Lies, assembling one of the most prestigious cast lists in recent memory.
Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright
Kidman has four Academy Award nominations to her name: for 2001's Moulin Rouge!, 2002's The Hours (which she won for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf), 2010's Rabbit Hole, and 2016's Lion. Her prolific resumé also includes roles in films like Batman Forever, Eyes Wide Shut, The Others, Cold Mountain, The Paperboy, and the upcoming Sofia Coppola film The Beguiled. This won't be her first time on HBO; she previously starred in the network's 2012 TV movie Hemingway & Gellhorn alongside Clive Owen, and she guest starred as herself in 2014's Hello Ladies: The Movie.
Reese Witherspoon as Madeline Mackenzie
Before earning her second nod for Vallée's Wild, Witherspoon won an Oscar for starring as June Carter Cash in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line alongside Joaquin Phoenix. You may also recognize her from such little-known films as Pleasantville, Cruel Intentions, Election, American Psycho, Legally Blonde, and Sweet Home Alabama. She'll next appear in Ava DuVernay's adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time as one of the three witches, joined by Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling. Her TV credits include a guest stint on Friends as Rachel's sister Jill.
Shailene Woodley as Jane Chapman
Woodley received a Golden Globe nomination for her feature film debut opposite George Clooney in 2011's The Descendants. She translated that success into starring roles in indie dramas (The Spectacular Now), literary adaptation (The Fault In Our Stars), YA franchises (Divergent), and prestige biopics (Oliver Stone's Snowden). She has a long history on TV, including her star-making turn as Amy Juergens on ABC Family's The Secret Life Of The American Teenager.
Alexander Skarsgård as Perry Wright
Outside of his native Sweden, Skarsgård is most famous for his role as sultry vampire Eric Northman on HBO's True Blood. His history with HBO also includes the 2008 miniseries Generation Kill and a 2013 episode of Eastbound & Down. On the big screen, you may have seen him in Battleship, The Giver, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, Zoolander 2, or The Legend Of Tarzan. You may also know his father Stellan as Thor's Erik Selvig, as well as his younger brother Bill, who joined Woodley in The Divergent Series: Allegiant as Matthew.
Adam Scott as Ed Mackenzie
When you think of Scott, you may think of comedies like The Good Place, Parks And Recreation, or Party Down. But he's no stranger to either drama or HBO, having previously combined the two with a guest part in Six Feet Under and a starring role in the short-lived series Tell Me You Love Me. His big screen credits include the likes of The Aviator, Knocked Up, Step Brothers, Our Idiot Brother, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, and Krampus.
Laura Dern as Renata Klein
Interestingly, Dern has played the mother to two of her Big Little Lies co-stars, first as Woodley's mom in The Fault In Our Stars, and then as Witherspoon's mom in Wild (on which she also worked with Big Little Lies director Vallée). That latter film earned Dern her second Oscar nomination, following her first nod for her starring role in 1991's Rambling Rose. She previously appeared on HBO in the TV movie Recount and the comedy series Enlightened, both of which earned her one Emmy nomination and one Golden Globe award apiece. Her other film credits include Jurassic Park, Citizen Ruth, I Am Sam, and Inland Empire, and her upcoming projects include secretive roles in both Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Showtime's Twin Peaks revival.
Zoë Kravitz as Bonnie Carlson
Big Little Lies reunites Kravitz with her Divergent co-star Woodley, after appearing as Christina in that franchise. This is the actress/singer's first major role on television following a recurring role on Showtime's Californication and a guest spot on Portlandia. On the big screen, she has also appeared in the likes of X-Men: First Class (as Angel), Mad Max: Fury Road (as Toast the Knowing), Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (in a cameo as Leta Lestrange), and The Lego Batman Movie (as Catwoman).
Catch this terrific cast in action when Big Little Lies premieres on HBO this Sunday, Feb. 19, at 9:00 p.m. ET.