Six-time Emmy nominee Elizabeth Moss is also a well-known film and television face for the series Top of the Lake. The Mad Men actress who also won a Golden Globe award for her role as Robin Griffin in the series (Top of the Lake) shares more about the challenge of shooting intimate scenes and her fears.
Q What interested you about Robin's character in Top of the Lake?
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 rare where you have a character who is strong and feminine, who has a lot to do and who has an incredible emotional journey.
Q What is Robin’s relationship with Al Parker?
Robin and Al have a really interesting relationship that is so kind of dark and strange. He’s a mentor figure for her and he’s her boss. She needs him very much in this case, she needs his support and she needs his help. At the same time, he starts to do things that make less and less sense. He has a completely different way of handling police work and a completely different way of handling this case and she starts to disagree with him more and more. On a personal level there’s this strange kind of attraction between them which is kind of wrong and weird.
Q 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.
Q How did you find filming the intimate scenes in the drama series?
There’s definitely more of that kind of thing than I’ve ever had in a project, more love scenes and more taking off of the clothes than I’ve ever done and thank God for Tom Wright; thank God for him because he’s just so sensitive and just makes me so comfortable and I don’t know what I would do without him in that scenario. He has a quality that is so honest and open.
He’s really been my rock on this project. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met — he has no ego. He’s just always there and he’s one of the most generous actors I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with a lot of really great people and I think he’s a really extraordinary person.
Q How does Robin compare to Peggy (Mad Men)?
On the surface, she is very different. Robin’s a modern woman, she’s emotionally and mentally stronger. She is a much harder woman than Peggy is, much tougher. She can handle a gun. But Peggy is often described as a mystery — you never really feel like you know what she’s going to do — and so they have that in common.
Q Did you have to face any fears on this project?
Yes, I definitely had to systematically face my fears! I’ve never really handled guns before, that was actually a little bit scary and ended up being fun. Eels — terrified of them, don’t like them at all. I was never too happy with the water, so I had to face that. At one point, I had to hold a trout and I don’t even like fish — so I kind of had to conquer my fears as time went on. I had to learn how to throw darts, shoot guns, chop wood, run, go in the lake. Actually, the funniest stuff that I’ve done on this show has actually been the cop stuff — the running around with the guns and the hiding and the shooting and all of that kind of thing.
Q How have you spent your time in New Zealand away from the set?
Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world and I am the least adventurous person in the world. So, it was kind of funny me coming to a place where there’s like paragliding and parasailing and bungee jumping and all this crazy stuff that I would never do in a million years. So, I’ve taken the calmer route of Queenstown which is the lovely restaurants, the wineries, the steam ship.So many times, we’ll be shooting in the bush or by a lake and it’s just so beautiful. So, I’ve been so lucky, I’ve gotten to see a lot that I don’t know if I would have known to go and see because we shoot there.
(Top of the Lake airs on Zee Café every Thursday at 10 PM)