TONI MA­SON

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Cover Story -

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.

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