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