Lake Drama Goes Darker and Deeper; Writer-Director Jane Campion Is Back with a Second Series of Top of the Lake. She and Stars Elisabeth Moss, Gwendoline Christie and Jane's Daughter Alice Englert Talk to KATE WHITING about Female Friendship, Sneaking into Brothels and Working with Mum

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), July 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

Lake Drama Goes Darker and Deeper; Writer-Director Jane Campion Is Back with a Second Series of Top of the Lake. She and Stars Elisabeth Moss, Gwendoline Christie and Jane's Daughter Alice Englert Talk to KATE WHITING about Female Friendship, Sneaking into Brothels and Working with Mum


Byline: KATE WHITING

Detective Robin Griffin (played by Elisabeth Moss) returns for a new series of Top Of The Lake JANE CAMPION - giggly, warm and quietly glamorous - is describing how she and Ari Kleiman, co-director of Top Of The Lake: China Girl, used subterfuge to research the Sydney sex industry - the setting for the sequel to 2013's acclaimed drama, Top Of The Lake.

To get into a brothel, they pretended he was a virgin and she his aunt, who wanted to help.

"We got ourselves into the sex room," says Jane, 63, who won an Oscar for her screenplay of The Piano. "It was understood that he wasn't there for sex, just to experience being close to a woman and talk to her."

Eventually, they found a group of sex workers who were happy to talk about "anything".

"We had the experience of hanging out at this one brothel and they were so generous and funny. It does feel like (they could say) anything, (like) how popular the ladyboys are with the married men."

Top Of The Lake: China Girl starts with the body of a woman (unidentified, so nicknamed China Girl for her ethnicity) washing up on the shores of Sydney in a suitcase, her dark hair streaming from inside.

Nicole Julia in Lake: Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss returns as Detective Robin Griffin, who investigates the case and gets an unlikely new partner in Game Of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie.

Those who watched - and loved - season one (it was Emmy- and Bafta-nominated and won Elisabeth a Golden Globe) will remember we left Robin at the edge of the New Zealand lake, with Johno, who she likes, but who may or may not be her brother, having found missing pregnant girl Tui.

At the beginning of the second series, she's back home in Sydney and clearly unhappy.

"You could have gone anywhere (with it)," says Elisabeth, 34. "You could have had four years later and her and Johno had this great relationship and had a baby, or you could go the way we went, which was not the happiest.

Kidman as Of The Girl "I requested that we go in a darker, deeper, more challenging direction, as I really didn't think there was much to do otherwise."

One of the biggest changes this series is the move from the open skies of the New Zealand countryside (where The Piano's Holly Hunter headed up an all-female commune beside the titular lake) to the hustle and bustle of Sydney.

"I just couldn't come up with any ideas set in New Zealand, it felt like the excitement of that we'd exhausted, or for me anyway because that's where I live some of the time and I really wanted to share it," explains Jane.

"But I also live in Syndey and (it's) a really exciting location for me because even though it's not a wilderness, it is a wilderness.

"The ocean really is that wild quality - the edge of the city that can be like a wild beach, it can be really peaceful, it's really moody, feminine as far as I'm concerned because it's tidal..."

Besides the main investigation, the other big plotline is that of Robin reconnecting with the daughter she gave up as a baby.

Now a teenager, played by Jane's daughter Alice Englert, Mary lives at home in a posh suburb of Sydney with her dad, who her academic mum (Nicole Kidman) has left for another woman.

Elisabeth explains: "The second season, far more than the first, is very much about female relationships and the complications and uniqueness of (them). It's (also) about motherhood and different kinds of parenting.

"Robin is technically a mother, but she has never experienced being with her daughter, so she has to find her own way of being a mother to Mary."

Mary finds solace in the arms of 'Puss' (David Dencik), a shady, German academic who lives in a flat with his cats and hangs out with the sex workers. …

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Lake Drama Goes Darker and Deeper; Writer-Director Jane Campion Is Back with a Second Series of Top of the Lake. She and Stars Elisabeth Moss, Gwendoline Christie and Jane's Daughter Alice Englert Talk to KATE WHITING about Female Friendship, Sneaking into Brothels and Working with Mum
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