Interview: Elisabeth Moss
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Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss is starring in Top Of The Lake, a new BBC Two murder mystery set in the sweeping wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island. What is Top Of The Lake about? Top Of The Lake is about a detective who returns to her home town and gets involved in the case of a 12-year-old girl who is pregnant and then goes missing. It’s about her search for the girl but she also dives into the world of this town and its secrets and starts unearthing the story of a bunch of characters. It becomes a search for herself as she’s also diving into her own past that she’s been running away from. It’s a detective story, it’s a mystery, it has all these elements about it that are sort of tried and true. But what makes it different is it’s got the Jane Campion touch. So everything is just a lot darker, a lot stranger, a lot more complicated than that. The lakes and the water in New Zealand here have this quality of becoming like glass on the top – impenetrable, smooth and so beautiful. But you don’t know what’s underneath. This story is about unearthing deep dark secrets and truth and the way that people cover those up. Whether it’s in yourself or in a family or in a community. It’s about finding what’s underneath the top of the lake, what’s in the depths. Why did you want the role? I’ve always been a huge fan of Jane Campion, she does such incredible work, so many different kinds of things, but they always have her own sensibility about them. She is the epitome of the actor’s director so getting the opportunity to learn from her and be challenged by her has been such an incredible part of this experience. Robin is one of those incredible female roles that are really rare where you have a character who is strong and feminine, who has a lot to do and who has an incredible emotional journey. Who is Robin Griffin? Robin Griffin is a detective who works mainly with children. She is incredibly strong and incredibly fragile. She’s a series of dichotomies - she’s very smart but very naive, she’s strong but very vulnerable, she’s learned a lot but is incredibly damaged, and she comes back to a place in her life she’s been trying to run away from so she has to deal with that. Jane understands the complexities of people, and she obviously has a gift for female characters that have those complexities, showing that they’re not always right, they’re not always wrong, they’re not always beautiful – they’re often ugly, they’re not always strong but they’re incredibly powerful. So for me it’s sort of a dream role and it’s very different from anything I’ve ever done. What brought Robin into this line of work is her past and her love and passion for children and for what is right. She believes in finding the truth about a situation no matter what and that’s what sets her apart from quite a few of the characters in this world. There are so many lies and there are so many secrets and there are so many people who are constantly deceiving everyone else, but she just comes in with this blind search for the truth. What is Robin’s relationship with Johnno? The major love story of the piece is between Robin and Johnno. They go through an experience together at a young age and then are apart for 15 years and then are thrown back together and it’s not a simple relationship, it’s not easy, it’s incredibly complicated. But they love each other and they need each other and there’s a connection there between them that will always be there. There’s a lot of darkness in this project so I think it’s important to have the other side of that and just portray a bit of romance, a bit of love.
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