Trouble in paradise
DAVID WENHAM AND ELISABETH MOSS BRING JANE CAMPION’S EXCITING NEW CRIME DRAMA, TOP OF THE LAKE, TO LIFE
TOP OF THE LAKE Sunday, 8.30pm UKTV
DRESSED in a black beanie, baggy boyfriend jeans, knitted boots, a scruffy, pale pink oversized shirt and not a trace of make-up, Elisabeth Moss (pictured) enters a quiet hall in Queenstown, New Zealand, ready for her interview.
Her casual, almost gangster-like clothes are all about keeping warm in the chilly conditions rather than fashion, and are a far cry from her usual immaculate attire as Peggy Olson in the hit ’60s-based advertising drama Mad Men.
Upon arrival, Moss apologises for being late. She has just returned from a day filming scenes in a helicopter flying high over New Zealand’s south islands.
‘‘I’ve never been in a helicopter before, it was so cool,’’ the actress says excitedly.
‘‘New Zealand, it’s paradise. It’s so stunning you’re left a little bit breathless, you know?’’
Bringing the American actress to the Southern Hemisphere is the new UKTV six-part drama, Top Of The Lake, also starring Oscar-winner Holly Hunter ( The Piano), BAFTA nominee Peter Mullan ( War Horse, Trainspotting), AFI winner David Wenham ( Killing Time, The Lord Of The Rings) and Balibo star Thomas M. Wright.
Created by Australian Academy Award-winning writer and director Jane Campion ( The Piano, Portrait Of A Lady) and Brisbane writer Gerard Lee ( All Men Are Liars, Sweetie) the story tells of a local drug lord’s 12-year-old daughter who discovers she’s five months pregnant before mysteriously going missing.
Moss plays Robin Griffin, a detective who grew up in the area then moved to Australia, but is back visiting her mother when she is called in to help with the case.
‘‘There’s a lot of parallels between the search for the girl and the search for herself,’’ Moss says.
‘‘She’s diving into her own past and diving into the fictional world that we’ve created with the families involved in the case and it becomes . . . like diving down the rabbit hole where she just starts uncovering all the lies and secrets of this place and the families, and going on this journey to look for this girl but also look for herself.’’
What is essentially a crime drama has been given the Campion touch with various subplots, mysteries and strange characters such as Hunter’s mystic healer GJ, who runs a women’s camp for broken-down and disillusioned females searching for happiness.
And it was this intriguing story combined with the opportunity to work with Campion that Moss just couldn’t resist.
‘‘As soon as I heard it was Jane Campion I wanted to be involved, and then when I read the scripts it was an amazing part,’’ the 30-year-old says.
‘‘The weaving of the more classic tale of a search . . . coupled with a much more dark and emotional and psychological drama that also has this kind of strange touch, which I think Jane is so good at (drew me in).
‘‘I’ve been a huge fan of hers for many years . . . and I think when you get the opportunity to work with somebody like her you have to jump at it.
‘‘She’s also known for her work with actresses and different actors and she’s obviously pulled some great performances out of people,’’ she says referring to Campion’s work with Hunter in The Piano, which resulted in Hunter winning a Best Actress Oscar. So what has Campion brought out of Moss? ‘‘The simplest way of putting it is she really challenges me,’’ she says.
‘‘She has a great way of making you question yourself and making you challenge yourself and making you step outside of your little box and get out of your habits and do things a little bit differently.
‘‘But at the same time she’s actually given me a tremendous belief in myself and my own instincts.
‘‘But I think the main thing . . . is learning how to trust your instincts and learning when not to – when they might be wrong and that’s OK. You can do it wrong and it’s fine and you can do it again and make it better.’’