New Zealand satellite television viewers can watch the first
episode of Top of the Lake tonight, an acclaimed crime
drama inspired by the landscape near the Routeburn Track
which film-maker Jane Campion found 15 years ago.
''I discovered that there was a real place called Paradise at
the top of Diamond Lake, extraordinarily lovely, and that the
people that had settled there had been dreamers,'' Campion
Top of the Lake cast members (from left) Robyn Malcolm,
Georgi Kay and Holly Hunter, are quizzed by Elizabeth Moss
in the women's refuge beside Moke Lake. The Wakatipu-fimed
series begins tonight on UKTV. Photo from UKTV.
''But it was also a place where great hopes were built
and dashed. It made me very curious about notions of paradise -
the idea of a wilderness paradise, something that's liberating
and real, a place for people wanting to get away from
''But then there's the dark side of it.''
Cut to Queenstown in June last year and co-directors Campion
and Garth Davis wrapped a gruelling four-month location shoot
involving up to 200 cast and crew members, to produce six
one-hour episodes of feature film quality drama, starring a
wealth of transtasman and transatlantic talent.
Campion had nothing but praise for her two typically strong
leading ladies - three-time Emmy-nominated actress Elisabeth
Moss (Mad Men), as Detective Robin Griffin, and Holly
Hunter, as acerbic women's refuge guru ''G.J.''.
''It's a strange thing when you go to cast your leading
character and you find yourself having not a clue who they
are,'' Campion said.
''I just wanted somebody to show me who is Robin Griffin. And
no-one did that in a way that convinced us all until the
Elisabeth Moss audition tape came in.
''She brought the dialogue into a place where it felt deep
and true and complex and she did it quite quietly. I was
really surprised, but I totally believed her.''
Campion wrote the character of G.J. with Hunter in mind and
many have commented on how G.J. resembled the film-maker.
Hunter won an Academy Award for best actress in The
Piano, Campion's previous homegrown production, two
''Meeting her again and seeing her as a more mature woman, it
was just absolutely exciting and brilliant,'' Campion said.
''I think it was an opportunity for us to build on the trust
and the relationship we had from doing The Piano. We work
together like sisters.''
Moss said Queenstown was the adventure capital of the world,
but described herself as 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 bungy jumping
and all this crazy stuff that I would never do in a million
''So I've taken the calmer route of Queenstown, which is the
lovely restaurants, the wineries, the steamship.
''The best thing about this project is that it's been like a
tour of the South Island. So many times we'll be shooting in
the bush, or by a lake and it's just so extraordinarily
Top of the Lake screens on Mondays at 8.30pm on