Jade Pettyjohn has acted alongside many of the cast of Big Little Lies in other projects: Reese Witherspoon in Hulu’s scorching miniseries Little Fires Everywhere, Nicole Kidman in the devastating film Destroyer, and opposite Laura Dern in Trial By Fire. The only box left to tick was to work with the Big Little Lies creator, David E. Kelley. Earlier this summer, the 20-year-old Cali native closed the loop by landing a role on Kelley’s newest prestige drama, Big Sky.
As Grace Sullivan, she and her older sister Danielle (Natalie Alyn Lind) are kidnapped on a remote highway in Montana – but she doesn’t go without a fight. A pair of detectives (Kylie Bunbury and Ryan Phillippe) attempt to track down her and her sister, but quickly realise these aren’t the only two women who have gone missing in the area.
Here, Pettyjohn tells about the absolutely shocking last scene of this Twin Peaks-esque procedural and waxes poetic on charming ’70s film Harold and Maude.
Harold and Maude
This film has to be one of my favourites of all time. A dark comedy from the early ’70s, Harold and Maude follows Harold, young and wealthy with a twisted infatuation with a death, who meets Maude, 80 years old and infatuated with life, at a stranger’s funeral.
What I love about this film, besides its quirky sense of humour and beautiful visuals, is the undeniable desire it leaves you to live life to the fullest extent. And to live outside of the realm of the ordinary.
In the words of Maude: “Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.”
This film changed the way I viewed life. It changed the way I lived life. And that is the power of film. It changes minds, it takes you to new places. This film captures what I love most about making TV and film.
Describe Big Sky in a sentence or two.
Big Sky is a mystery thriller (along the vein of Twin Peaks) that follows two missing teenagers and a set of private detectives trying to find them. As the series unfolds, you see the detectives discover the case runs darker than imagined, as well as seeing these two teenage girls fight for their lives.
What scene of this series will people be tweeting about?
The last scene of the first episode will have everyone – and I mean everyone – talking. That final scene is the first major plot twist of the series. With each new episode, David E. Kelly and the rest of our incredible writing team find ways of adding more intensity, more thrill and more shock than anything I’ve ever seen. Nothing is as it seems. I’m also particularly excited for viewers to see episode three…
Something that will only make sense to viewers once they’ve seen the whole series is…
Secrets live below the surface.
In what ways are you like the character you play?
I think Grace and I are both analytical in thought. We both seek comfort in problem solving. We’re both very determined. As the series unfolds, viewers will see Grace evolve into a young woman that bites back, a woman who is nothing if not resilient. Though I’ve never been in a situation as traumatising as my character (and hope I never will), I would like to think that, if I was in such a dire circumstance, I’d embody Grace’s ferocity and resilience.
One fun or funny thing I remember from production is…
Big Sky is the first show I ever had to work with maggots. There was a maggot wrangler on set who had to drop them on my leg, and they were extremely ticklish. Who knew! It took several takes for me to stop laughing at these wiggly creatures crawling all over my leg.