Every binge watcher has her on their list of must-watches, and Elisabeth Singleton Moss, who is better known as Zoey Bartlet, the youngest daughter of President Josiah Bartlet, on The West Wing, and as Peggy Olson, secretary-turned-copywriter, on Mad Men speaks about her role in Top of the Lake. The actress won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film for the BBC miniseries Top of the Lake... and shares the inside track...
What are the qualities in Robin that made you want to play her again?
What I love most about Robin, from an actorâs perspective are her flaws, vulnerability. And her ability to be strong when she needs to be and to fight for justice and fight for the truth. So the juxtaposition of that with the complete chaos in her personal life and her inability to get that under control; this season, sheâs so much more messed up. Itâs been a challenge to play, but itâs also been really fun.
How did Jane Campion approach you about doing Top of the Lake: China Girl?
It came up in conversation over sushi in Queenstown, âWhat if there was a season two?â And we all were like, âOh, thatâs kind of exciting.â Then over a year later, I was actually at the Emmys in LA and Jane and I met for lunch and she said, âSo, if we did a season two, would you do it? I canât really do it without Robin.â I said yes, I would love to, but it needs to be more challenging. I said. âI just want her to be challenged.â
Were you surprised by how well-received the series was?
Yeah. I donât want to say I was surprised as that sounds like we werenât expecting it. And it was so dark and so weird and the tone of Jane Campion is so strange. So you really throw your hands up and go, âI donât know if anyoneâs going to get this.â Itâs always amazing when you put your heart into something and you get all these cherries on top of people really liking it and wanting to give you honours. Itâs a wonderfully gratifying thing.
What was it like working with Jane Campion the second time?
Thereâs nobody like Jane. Iâve worked with many different directors and many wonderful directors. Iâve had the privilege of working with some very talented amazing people, and thereâs something about the way that she speaks to you and about the way that she guides you on set that isnât like anyone else. She has this very in-tune way of guiding you. When you feel like a director trusts you that just gives you so much freedom and confidence.
How did you feel about a new second director, Ariel Kleiman, being on board?
Jane does have an incredible gift for finding new talent and I trust her one thousand percent in that regard. She did it with Garth and I believe that sheâs done it again with Ari. Heâs kind of this magical creature â very enthusiastic and youthful. Weâre at a brothel, weâre at a morgue, weâre at a beach, thereâs a dead body. Itâs very dark. And heâs just laughing and so excited. This enthusiasm is so infectious. Going to work with him is an absolute joy.
Did you and Gwendoline Christie get close through working so closely together?
I donât even know where to begin. Sheâs the love of my life! I thought I would like her, you know, and Iâm a fan of hers as an actor, but itâs been this really wonderful deep friendship that has happened. Sometimes you meet people and you know that youâre going to be friends with them for the rest of your life. Season one I didnât really have that buddy, Robin didnât have that friend. Itâs been really amazing in season two to have this female relationship.
How important is Sydney as the location for Season 2?
Well, New Zealand was so much about the wilderness outside, and this season, season two, is about the wilderness within, and that is very much represented by the story but also very much represented by Sydney. Obviously itâs a much more urban landscape. It is much more modern in a lot of ways. But at the same time we have this coastline that weâre dealing with and shooting at a lot. And so weâve gone from this very still, freezing cold still lake, to this ocean and this coastline and these beaches that are temperamental and change all the time and look different. To me the ocean is the other character as much as Sydney.
â Watch Top Of The Lake S2 on the recently launched BBC First weeknights at 10 pm exclusively on Zee Cafe.