SIGNING for a lead role in the mini-series Top of the Lake was a nobrainer for Holly Hunter.
For a start, it promised to reunite her with her fellow Oscar-winner for The Piano, Jane Campion.
‘‘ Just the fact that it’s Jane puts it in a completely different category, without even reading it,’’ Hunter says.
Though Hunter has recently been seen on TV in three seasons of Saving Grace, she is best known for her work on film.
But it didn’t take long for Campion, a close friend since their work on The Piano in 1993, to convince her to take on the role of the enigmatic GJ in Top of the Lake.
‘‘ Initially I was hesitant and I didn’t understand why she would think of me for it — she was just incredibly persuasive, as Jane is,’’ Hunter says.
Despite both projects being shot in New Zealand, Hunter says the difference between the North Island, where The Piano was filmed, and the South Island, the setting for the TV series, was quite different.
Shot against a stunning backdrop of a large lake with soaring mountains all around, the seven-part series deals with the police investigation that’s launched when 12-yearold Tui Mitcham (Jacqueline Joe) is discovered to be pregnant and then disappears.
Tui is the daughter of local crime lord Matt Mitcham (Peter Mullan), who appears to have many children to various women and who runs a walled encampment with the aid of his adult sons.
The series has a stellar cast, including MadMen’s Elisabeth Moss as big-city detective Robin Griffin, who returns to her home town to visit her ill mother (Robyn Nevin).
While there Robin works on Tui’s case with local cop Al Parker (David Wenham).
Hunter says she’s drawn to Campion’s work by the revelations it contains about the characters — both male and female.
‘‘ In some strange way in Jane’s movies there are no villains, even though you do have people who do things that are extreme or evil. She is a filmmaker who in a way stands in no judgment of the people she brings to the screen.’’ Top of the Lake, UKTV, Sunday, 8.30pm Reunited: Holly Hunter was initially hesitant to take on the role.