US debut for gritty drama

Elisabeth Moss, who stars in Top of the Lake.
Elisabeth Moss, who stars in Top of the Lake.

The gritty drama series, Top Of The Lake, shot in Queenstown last year will premiere on United States cable TV's Sundance Channel in March.

The first two hour-long episodes will screen on March 18, and the rest of the seven-part series will screen in weekly episodes.

Star of the series Elisabeth Moss, who made her mark as a diminutive 1950s advertising agency secretary in critically acclaimed Mad Men, has recounted the hardships of the six-month Queenstown shoot - and the grittier side of life she portrays in the new role.

Speaking to Hollywood trade magazine Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, she said the shoot was challenging - especially a scene where she glasses another character in a bar and is pulled off him kicking and screaming.

"It was very hard technically, I was bleeding, had bruises the next day, and my voice was gone," she said.

Showing a different side to the fantasy image of New Zealand represented in films such as The Hobbit was important to her, Moss said.

"It's the most comprehensive documentation of modern New Zealand that's ever been done at such a large scale. We show a very different, much more modern, much grittier, much more raw side of it. By the end of production, we couldn't pass a place we didn't shoot in."

The plot revolves around the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old, her charismatic drug-lord father, rape, murder, a women's camp and corrupt police force.

However, in an October interview, co-writer and director Jane Campion was careful to steer away from tagging the fictional setting as a real place, and avoided mentioning Queenstown at all.

The BBC Two website says the series is coming soon, but it is unknown when the series will screen in New Zealand or Australia.

Campion, a Kiwi, owns land in Glenorchy near Queenstown, which served as a principal shooting location.

The Southland Times