Inside the real estate porn of ‘Big Little Lies’

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Inside the real estate porn of ‘Big Little Lies’

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBOHilary Bronwyn...

27 February 2017 Monday 19:02
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Inside the real estate porn of ‘Big Little Lies’

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO

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HBO’s “Big Little Lies” boasts an A-list cast of gorgeous actors, but it’s not the stars that viewers are drooling over — it’s their multimillion-dollar megamansions.

The drama, which centers on a murder that rocks the affluent beachfront community of Monterey, Calif., is packed with luxurious real estate of its cliquey, grudge-holding mothers, with the houses’ massive kitchens, opulent furnishings and stunning vistas from the outdoor balconies. Although the Northern Californian coast is a considerable visual part of the series, “Big Little Lies” spent less than a month filming in the area.

“Those houses that everybody is going gaga over — only one of those three is actually in the Monterey Peninsula,” says Greg Alpert, the series’ location manager.

“What I learned once I spent a lot of time scouting is that that portion of the central coast of California is very rocky, with those waves crashing up on the rocks, as you see throughout our show. There are beaches, of course, but I can count on one hand how many homes are actually on the sand.”

For that reason (as well as factors such as budget and actor schedules), the majority of the series used LA locations and sets to double as a rarified Monterey. Both Renata (Laura Dern) and Madeleine’s (Reese Witherspoon) houses are actually in Malibu. Jane’s (Shailene Woodley) modest craftsman bungalow is in Pasadena. Only Celeste’s (Nicole Kidman) mansion, with its large balcony nestled among the trees, is geographically true (it’s located in Carmel, Calif., Monterey’s more affluent neighbor.)

Besides being visually lovely, director Jean-Marc Vallé́e wanted the women’s houses aligned with their socioeconomic status, from their location to the color palette.

“Starting at the top we have Renata. She’s the wealthiest of the four women and her house [is] literally on the top of the hill with the most dynamic view looking down on everyone else, with the ocean right there,” Alpert says.

Celeste is next on the food chain, in a house where you can hear the waves violently crash against the rocks (much like her fiery relationship with her husband). The home, which is primarily used as a vacation rental, was made more elegant on the interior, with production designer John Paino swapping out the furniture and painting it blue to soften and warm the space. Madeleine’s beach house, another step down, is right on the water, with a white palette. Jane’s bungalow was decorated in browns and greens since the character is more grounded.

While the proximity of the Malibu homes allowed for filming in the actual interiors, those of Celeste and Jane’s houses were recreated on soundstages in LA. Those stunning sunsets seen from the mansions’ floor-to-ceiling windows? Sometimes digitally tweaked. The Blue Blues bar at the end of wharf, which serves as the ladies’ hideout, is also pure TV magic.

“We made the whole thing on a stage, and the background is digitally dropped in,” Paino says.

“A theme in the show [is] that everything isn’t as rosy as it appears to be. You’re set in this paradise, affluent neighborhood and there’s a lot of the seedy underbelly of what’s going on,” he says. “We wanted to try to have this gloss, like that nice coffee bar on the end of a fishing wharf.

“We tried to juxtapose things like that.”

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