For the whole of Big Little Lies season two, fans have been looking forward to a moment captured by paparazzi and teased on social media during filming: Reese Witherspoon pelting an ice-cream cone at Meryl Streep.
Witherspoon was one person looking forward to seeing the moment on screen.
“I nailed her, and I felt really good about it,” she told Vanity Fair last August, saying she “practised really hard” for the Big Little Lies throw down.
“I did the wind-up, and I made sure to have proper mechanics and really focused on my target. And I got her. My softball skills paid off.”
Witherspoon wouldn’t give away what prompted her Madeline to go all icy on Streep’s Mary Louise: “Once you watch the show, you’ll understand why I did it. You’ll be happy, too.”
Oh Matt! No need to pray. I got her ! 🍦🎯 https://t.co/nMitvPXETc
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) August 1, 2018
And therein lies the rub. For whatever reason, HBO left the ice-cream scene on the cutting room floor – but Monday’s Big Little Lies episode five did show the motivation.
A warning at this point: Spoilers ahead.
During the episode, Mary Louise doubled down on her efforts to seize guardianship of her grandsons from Celeste (Nicole Kidman), which made Celeste worried her friends could be called to the stand if the case went to trial.
And if that happened, the full story about Perry Wright’s death could come out. So where Mary Louise is concerned, Celeste’s problems just became something for all the ‘Monterey Five’ to worry about.
So when Madeline and Abigail (Kathryn Newton) ran into Mary Louise in the street while eating ice-cream, Madeline got mad enough to challenge the scheming grandma: “What‘s wrong with you, huh?”
Instead of the cone being piffed, the episode cut to the next scene.
Smart money is on the ice-cream throw being deemed not necessary for the storyline, given HBO didn’t baulk in episode four at having Celeste slap Mary Louise in the face.
Fans vented on social media. “I … don’t know who to turn to. I don’t know where to go,” tweeted one after the “iconic” moment was deleted.
So far Big Little Lies has pedalled hard to match the dream-like grittiness of its first series, with the central theme moving from domestic violence and the realities of relationships to the not-so-hidden aftershocks over the demise of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard).
While Shailene Woodley has been stellar as Jane – Streep called her “just a miracle” in the heartbreaking scene where she told son Ziggy the truth about his father – the standout star has been Streep.
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Even Oscar winners Kidman and Witherspoon can’t command audience attention when acting opposite her.
She’s expertly Streeped all her Big Little Lies co-stars with understated, laser-sharp insults and a mysterious internal life.
But apart from her Gorgon stares, Streep has had a secret weapon: Fake teeth.
The star’s choppers are more subtle than those made by prosthetic expert Chris Lyons for another Hollywood client, Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Something like this, when you go and see it, all the reports and critics are saying, ‘Is it her teeth? Is it not her teeth?’ That’s what we like,” Mr Lyons, who owns British company Fangs FX, told Vanity Fair of Streep’s teeth.
Dubbed the Hollywood ‘Tooth Fairy’, Lyons has done dental work for films since the mid-1970s including on franchise behemoths like Game of Thrones and Star Wars.
“It was Meryl’s brilliant idea,” Big Little Lies’ executive producer Gregg Fienberg recently told the New York Post’s Page Six of the intriguing are-they-or-aren’t-they pegs.
They were inspired by the teeth of her late screen son, Skarsgard, to underline the mother and son link and add a fine menace to the Mary Louise character.
The prosthetic took about four days to make, with the teeth all layered individually onto a mould.
“If you made it in one block, it would look like joke shop teeth,” Lyons said.