Casting announced for Campion’s Top of the Lake

Casting has been announced for the Jane Campion-directed television mini-series Top of the Lake.

An ensemble cast will include Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, On the Road), Holly Hunter (The Piano), Peter Mullan (War Horse, Trainspotting) and David Wenham (Lord of the Rings, Australia, Killing Time).

Campion wrote the series with Gerard Lee (All Men are Liars). The pair also co-wrote feature film Sweetie (1989) and short film Passionless Moments (1983).

Produced by Emile Sherman and Iain Canning’s See-Saw Films (The Kings Speech, Shame), the show will also be produced by upcoming director Garth Davis.

Sherman told Encore last year: “Essentially, I was approached by Jane. We’d met and got on really well, and she thought that this could be a good project for us to work on together. I couldn’t believe that she actually offered me the job.”

The mini-series will begin production in February 2012 Queenstown, New Zealand  and go out as 6x60mins in early 2013. It marks the return of Campion filming in her native New Zealand since breakout ’90s film An Angel At My Table.

It will be co-produced but BBC Two, UKTV in Australia and New Zealand and the Sundance Channel in the US. Screen Australia, Screen NSW and Sherman’s Fulcrum Media Finance are all providing investment and finance.

Jane Campion said: “I am in love with the intense beauty of southern most New Zealand and am excited to be setting a story in this end of the world paradise. To be able to tell the story over six hours gives myself and my brilliant team a chance to make something truly absorbing and memorable”.

Emile Sherman and Iain Canning said in a statement: “We are so thrilled to be working with Jane Campion and the incredibly talented collaborators who have come on board this unique series. To have Jane turn her creative energy to longer form drama is further proof of how exciting television has become, a key medium for sophisticated and original storytelling.”

They added: “We are also thrilled to be working for the first time with the BBC Two, who commissioned development of the series, as well as with UKTV, Sundance Channel and BBC Worldwide, all of whom have unequivocally embraced Jane’s vision”.

A press release describes the synopsis as: “Top of the Lake is a powerful and haunting mystery about the search for happiness in a paradise where honest work is hard to find. Set in the remote mountains of New Zealand, the story follows the disappearance of a five months pregnant 12-year-old named Tui who was last seen standing chest deep in a frozen lake. In this classic mythic struggle, investigating detective, Robin Griffin (Moss), must lose herself in order to find the missing girl. During the investigation, she collides with Matt Mitcham (Mullan), Tui’s father, a local drug lord, and G.J (Hunter), a guru at a local women’s camp. Robin will find this the case that tests her limits and sends her on a journey of self-discovery.”

BBC Worldwide, which owns UKTV, will distribute internationally.


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