Elisabeth Moss on the return of Top of the Lake
NEW DRAMA Top of the Lake THURSDAY / BBC2 / 9.00Pm
It’s a grey and gloomy morning on Sydney’s Bondi Beach, where Elisabeth Moss is studying the grisly contents of a large, battered suitcase that has been dumped in the sand.
TV Times has joined the crowd of surfers and sun-seekers watching the actress as she shoots a scene for haunting crime drama Top of the Lake, which returns to BBC2 this week for a second, six-part run.
Created by writer-director Jane Campion, it picks up four years after the first, New Zealand-set series, and finds Elisabeth’s tortured detective, Robin Griffin, living in Sydney and hoping to reconnect with the child she gave up for adoption, Mary, who is played by Jane’s daughter Alice Englert. However, when the body of an unidentified Asian woman is found in a suitcase on Bondi, Robin soon becomes wrapped up in the city’s underbelly of sex trafficking and prostitution as she tries to unravel the murder-mystery of ‘China Girl’.
We caught up with Elisabeth, 34 – also currently on our screens in C4’s The Handmaid’s Tale – at the Bondi Pavilion club to chat about reprising her award-winning role and working with Hollywood A-lister Nicole Kidman and Game of Thrones’
How was it playing Robin again after four years? You’d think it would be easy, but it’s been so much more emotionally challenging for me this time. However, I did tell Jane and her co-writer, Gerard Lee, that I wanted Robin’s story to go in a much darker, deeper, and more disturbing direction, otherwise what’s the point in going back? Motherhood is a big theme this series, so how does Robin get on with her daughter?
A lot of Robin’s character stems from her giving her daughter away 17 years ago, so it’s been a real gift to explore what happens when they meet. I think we’ve handled it sensitively, because Robin doesn’t feel like a parent, and has to find her own way of being a mother.
What was it like acting opposite Nicole Kidman, who plays
Mary’s adoptive mother, Julia? Nicole was lovely. She just wanted to do a great job and when you have a big movie star who wants to challenge themselves, you’re very grateful. I definitely had a moment, though, when I had to remind myself to be professional and not shout, ‘Oh, my God, I’m acting with Nicole Kidman!’ Miranda [Gwendoline Christie], Robin’s new police partner, brings some humour to the show…
Top of the Lake is dark and creepy, but it’s also hilarious at times, and Jane wrote the role of Miranda specifically for Gwen. I knew she would bring something unique, but she blew it out of the water.
Robin, Mad Men’s Peggy Olson and Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale are all very different – how do you choose the roles you play? The best writing creates complicated, interesting, strong female characters, and that’s what I gravitate towards. But Jane and Gerard’s writing is also a classic example of expecting the audience to be intelligent; they don’t dumb down anything. As a result, I think Top of the Lake has a tone and a mood that is unlike anything else.
All six episodes will be available to watch on iplayer straight after the first episode airs.
TOP Of THE lake is PREVIEWED
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TV Times heads to Australia as Elisabeth Moss is joined by Nicole Kidman for the second series of
BBC2’S eerie thriller… I had to remind
myself to be professional and not shout, ‘I’m
acting with Nicole Kidman!’
Body on Bondi: Robin investigates a woman’s murder Star turn: Nicole Kidman plays an adoptive mum