'Little Fires Everywhere' Star Kerry Washington Says She and Reese Witherspoon Used a 'Safety Word' on Set


"Little Fires Everywhere," available on Hulu, had viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the entirety of the series. But viewers weren't the only ones shocked at every turn.

Kerry Washington, who played Mia Warren in the drama, revealed that she and Reese Witherspoon (Elena Richardson) had to use a "safety word" throughout the process to keep each other in check.

The show, which showcases racism and oppression in the 1990s, was full of shocking twists and gut-wrenching one liners. In order to portray their characters effectively, Washington and Witherspoon had to really push into each other. Often, that involved going off-script.

"Part of what you're seeing is that there was safety to really push each other, so when you see that transformation happen on Reese's face, I was not saying the things that you're hearing on screen. I was saying other things to try to help her drop into that moment," she explained to Entertainment Weekly.

"And she would do the same for me," she continued. "And you can only do that in really safe relationships and safe environments."

Washington even revealed that she did the same exercises with Lexi Underwood, who played Mia's daughter Pearl.

"I remember saying to Lexi Underwood's mom, 'I'm going to push her,' and to Lexi, 'I'm going to push you. I'm going to say things to you that are not in the script. We need a safety word,'" she said.

But Washington was always prepared to take a step back for the good of her fellow castmates. She continued, "'If it goes to far, if I've gone to a place that it's no longer okay, you need to let me know, but I'm going to take you outside your comfort zone, because these characters are not comfortable, and we're going to have to surprise each other with the capacity of what we're able to express.'"

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Hulu