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Winter TCA: Elisabeth Moss takes break from ad world to find a missing girl in 'Top of the Lake'

January 05, 2013|By Yvonne Villarreal
  • Elizabeth Moss plays a detective on the case of a missing girl in 'Top of the Lake'
Elizabeth Moss plays a detective on the case of a missing girl in 'Top… (Sundance Channel )

This story has been updated. See below.

One day, Elisabeth Moss (as Peggy) is giving her notice to Don Draper; the next, she’s in an unheated shed in the outskirts of Queenstown, New Zealand, rehearsing for a Jane Campion mystery.

“It was cold!” Moss told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour. She was there to promote Sundance’s upcoming “Top of the Lake,” joined by co-star Holly Hunter and producer Iain Canning. 

The seven-part mini-series is set in a quiet New Zealand town and features Moss as a detective searching for a missing (and pregnant) 12-year-old girl.   And the eventual payoff, for Moss, of the less-than-desirable rehearsal conditions was being able to play a gal who isn't afraid to glass a guy at a bar.

"I was bleeding," she said of the filming the scene. "Bruises the next day, my voice was gone."

Moss, who began working on the project days after wrapping production on Season 5 of “Mad Men,” spoke admiringly about the experience—like the production's having one satellite phone to maintain communication with the mainland or the mini-series offering a different perspective on the region mostly known for films such as “Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit.”

“I think it’s the most comprehensive documentation of modern New Zealand,” she said. “We show a very different,  much more modern … much more raw side of it.”

The mini-series reunited Hunter with the Campion, the Austalian filmmaker behind such films as “Bright Star” and “In the Cut,”  professionally, 20 years after they worked together on the Oscar-winning period-drama “The Piano”—though, the two have maintained a friendship ever since. It’s the sort of friendship Hunter described as a whirlwind.

“Working with Jane is like fallin in love,” said Hunter, who plays a guru at a woman’s camp in the mini-series. “But you’re falling … it’s deep and dark and fun.”

“Top of the Lake,” which will premiere March 18, certainly isn’t the first scripted opus from the network. Sundance found success in 2010 with its three-part miniseries (clocking in at 5.5 hours) “Carlos”—which locked in a couple of Emmy nominations.

[For the record, 5:28 p.m., January 5: An original version of this story incorrectly spelled Elisabeth Moss' name as Elizabeth.]

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  Yvonne Villarreal

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