Dark side of Elis­a­beth Moss

Elis­a­beth Moss em­braces in the new sea­son of her TV hit, writes Shan­non Molloy

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

W hen she was first sounded out for a sec­ond sea­son of Top Of The Lake, Elis­a­beth Moss agreed to do so on one condition — it had to be even darker. The Amer­i­can ac­tor plays Robin Grif­fin in the glob­ally suc­cess­ful, Fox­tel-pro­duced tele­vi­sion se­ries, which the first time around was set in New Zealand and dealt with a pae­dophilia ring.

In this in­stal­ment, Robin — an Australian de­tec­tive — is home in pic­turesque Sydney where the story kicks off with the dis­cov­ery of a dead body stuffed in a suit­case on Bondi Beach.

And that’s just the be­gin­ning. “You would maybe think there’d be a cer­tain ease re­turn­ing to a char­ac­ter you’ve played be­fore, and in a way I sup­pose it was slightly less scary than the first sea­son,” Moss tells BW Mag­a­zine.

“But this sea­son is so much more chal­leng­ing for Robin, and me, ma­te­rial-wise and emo­tion­ally. I def­i­nitely had to rise to the oc­ca­sion again.”

Moss is used to gritty sub­ject mat­ter. Her long list of cred­its in­cludes the crit­i­cally ac­claimed film Girl, In­ter­rupted and the lon­grun­ning TV se­ries Mad Men. Most re­cently she has won praise for her star­ring role in the pow­er­ful Hand­maid’s Tale.

But div­ing back into Robin’s world is some­thing en­tirely more chal­leng­ing, she ad­mits. “That’s ex­actly what I wanted though and quite specif­i­cally what I asked for.

“When I was asked if I wanted to do this sea­son, I said, ‘Yeah, but it has to be more chal­leng­ing’. Oth­er­wise, why do it? Why watch it?”

Moss let the show’s co-cre­ator and di­rec­tor, the ac­claimed Jane Cam­pion, guide where Robin would go a sec­ond time around.

But she had one re­quest, she laughs. “Only that I wanted to be re­ally f...ed up, You know,” Moss laughs. “I was like, go deeper! Go darker!

Like sea­son one, which touched on Robin’s lin­ger­ing trauma from be­ing raped as a teenager, fall­ing preg­nant and ul­ti­mately giv­ing up her baby, there is no short­age of sub­plots in sea­son two.

Moss says her char­ac­ter comes face-to-face with the child she gave up, who is now about the age she was when Robin’s life-shap­ing in­ci­dent oc­curred.

“For me, there’s so much in sea­son one about Robyn’s char­ac­ter and be­ing that stems from this ter­ri­ble night when she was 16 and the en­su­ing years,” Moss ex­plains.

“The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of her choice to give that child away have formed who she is as a per­son, mostly the neg­a­tive parts of her.

“But it also gives her a ded­i­ca­tion to jus­tice and a ded­i­ca­tion to the truth.

“So in sea­son two, to be able to meet this per­son who has formed Robyn as a char­ac­ter and explore that, and how it changes her, I mean that’s a ... meal and a half for an ac­tor.”

And Cam­pion’s style, in­ject­ing an eerie and enig­matic tone into the story, is present.

“It re­tains all of those weird el­e­ments — the strange char­ac­ters and strange places that are in sea­son one,” Moss says.

On the crime side of things, her char­ac­ter teams up with lo­cal con­sta­ble Miranda Hil­mar­son, played by Game of Thrones star Gwen­do­line Christie.

Australian megas­tar Nicole Kid­man also stars as Ju­lia, who adopted Robin’s baby.

“I had one of those mo­ments on set when I had to re­mind my­self to be pro­fes­sional and not be like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Nicole Kid­man!’ ” Moss says.

“She’s lovely. She came in re­ally pas­sion­ate and en­thu­si­as­tic and re­ally want­ing to do a great job.

“When you get a big movie star, quote unquote, who wants to re­ally chal­lenge them­selves, you’re very grate­ful for that.”

Top Of The Lake airs to­mor­row night at 8.30pm on BBC FIRST on Fox­tel

I was like, go deeper, and go darker!

Elis­a­beth Moss shows her star power at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, and left, in Top Of The Lake with ac­tor Peter Mul­lan.

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