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‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’: Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman Champion Women in TV and Preview a Season on Motherhood

TCA: Nicole Kidman and Elisabeth Moss joined cast members of "Top of the Lake: China Girl" to discuss women's success in television.

"Top of the Lake: China Girl"


“It’s wonderful to be a Campion woman,” Nicole Kidman said during the Television Critics Association press tour panel for “Top of the Lake: China Girl.”

Joining co-stars Elisabeth Moss, Gwendoline Christie, and Alice Englert, Kidman praised the director and co-writer of the new season, and joined her cast-mates in praising women’s growing presence in television.

“I’ve known Jane since I was 14, so I had incredible trust in her,” Kidman said about Campion, who she first worked with in the director’s graduate film. “Since I met her as a teenager, she encountered me with all my insecurities, hopes, and desires, so she really knows me. I feel unbelievably safe. I’ve shared my deepest and most intimate secrets with her.”

“There’s a freedom,” she said. “There isn’t judgement, and that just feels good. It feels good to be what you are feeling, even that day because it changes, and the way she interprets that, digests that, and processes that.”

Moss was asked what she thought of the progress made by women in television, and the Emmy-nominated “Handmaid’s Tale” star said, “We’re making obvious strides.”

“There’s still work to be done and it needs to be pushed in that direction,” Moss said. “If you look at the TV landscape now […] it’s exactly where we should be going because that’s what people want to see. The people who hold the pursestrings realize these [movie and TV shows] make money. It’s very obvious these things make money, ‘Wonder Woman’ being the most recent obvious example.”

Elisabeth Moss, Alice Englert and Nicole Kidman SundanceTV 'Top of the Lake: China Girl' TV show panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 29 Jul 2017


“With the internet being so prominent in all our lives, we all have an equal voice in the realms of the internet. People want to see different stories,” Christie said. “It will bring us more empathy for each other; that people want to see similarities in each other instead of the differences.”

Later, Kidman noted a sign of progress right there in the ballroom.

“Is something changing? Well, I know I’m not sitting up here with a group of men. I’m sitting with a group of women,” she said. “That means the roles are here, and that’s really exciting. As an actor, you go where the great roles are.”

The roles in “Top of the Lake: China Girl” center on mothers and daughters. Moss’ police detective Robin Griffin is dealing with a daughter she gave up for adoption reaching out to her for the first time. She meets with her adopted mother, Julia, played by Kidman, and — to throw in a meta twist — the daughter, Mary, is played by Campion’s real-life daughter, Englert.

“This season is about motherhood,” Moss said. “She’s trying to figure out how to be a mother to this woman who is essentially a stranger. Robin’s ideas of how life should be are challenged by [Julia and Mary]. The most important thing for her is to solve this case, as usual, but the personal lines up with the political and she has to figure out both.”

The case in question revolves around a body that washes up on a New Zealand beach, which appears to be connected to a string of murders. Much like the first season, Robin’s personal and professional life connect in powerful ways.

“Top of the Lake: China Girl” is a sequel season that shouldn’t work. Campion’s first entry is so revered, following it up is the television equivalent to crafting a sequel to “The Godfather.” Luckily, the early reviews mirror that iconic film’s reception. IndieWire’s Senior Film Critic David Ehrlich said the series is “as beautiful and moving as anything you’ll see this year.”

The six-hour limited series will debut as a three-night event beginning September 10 at 9 p.m. ET. SundanceTV will air two new hours each night from September 10 – 12.

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