In case you, like me, were shocked to discover that seemingly all the parents of the Otter Bay School in HBO’s Big Little Lies have remarkably good singing voices (put on display at Trivia Night during the denouement of the seven-episode series), it is time—much like the discovery of who’s abusing Amabella—for a reality check.
Minor spoilers below.
In the series finale, Ed (Scott), husband to Madeline (Reese Witherspoon), and Nathan (Tupper), Madeline’s ex and husband of Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), find themselves competing as Elvis impersonators at a fundraising talent show for their children’s school, respectively singing “The Wonder of You” and “How’s the World Treating You.” Shocking everyone, both Ed and Nathan are great, though Ed’s performance—directed at Madeline—is far more moving. But, as the series director Jean-Marc Vallée told Vulture, neither of the actors were up to the task of singing Elvis songs.
Addressing the difficulty of shooting the finale, Vallée said:
And the singing and the lip sync! Adam Scott and James Tupper, this is not their real voices, ’cause they don’t know shit how to sing. They are so bad. They were so bad. So we had to hire great singers. So I went to Conor O’Brien, the singer of Villagers, to be Adam Scott’s voice. And I went to Chris Isaac to be James Tupper’s voice. But he had a schedule issue so we went with Daniel Agee.
On a February appearance on Conan, Scott admitted that he wouldn’t be doing his own singing on the show because, even after intense voice lessons, his singing was still terrible.
As to why Vallée wanted the men to be good rather than endearingly awful, he says:
Because it would have been funny, and it’s not time to be funny. It’s time to be emotional and to be touched and, particularly, for Ed to sing his love for Maddy. He knows something happened, but he doesn’t wanna talk about it. And despite that, he is singing that she’s the wonder of him. And you get so emotional. So put a bad voice there and you don’t have this, you have like, Oh, it’s funny. And the same with Nathan. Nathan is singing to Madeline, How is the world treating you? So she’s got two guys singing for her that night.
Kravitz, singing a sultry version of Elvis’ “Don’t,” provided all her own vocals in the episode.