Monday, March 20, 2023

Recasting 2013 (supporting): "Top of the Lake"

This is the second selection in a row (of three after I post next week's selection) that the main driver in my interest in the project is the director. I realize that I chose Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano for my lead recasting project, but her 2013 limited series, Top of the Lake seems a good fit as well, for a handful of reasons. 

I should note that Campion did not direct every episode of this seven-part series. Garth Davis (Lion, Mary Magdalene) directed an episode on his own, and a few were jointly directed between the two. The first season was a crime drama that takes place in New Zealand (there ended up being a second season that takes place around the same area but with a different cast and different story). Elizabeth Moss stars as Robin Griffin, a detective trying to find a missing and pregnant 12 year-old girl lost in the forest. The person she suspects is the girl's own father, Matt Mitcham (portrayed by Peter Mullan), who we end up learning is actually Robin's father as well, making the young girl, Tui, her half-sister. Drama!

The role I'd recast Meryl in was portrayed by the same person, Holly Hunter, whom I recast in the Piano. In Top of the Lake, Hunter plays a Swiss sort of spiritual guru named GJ, who arrives on Mitcham's land (which pisses him off) with a troupe of troubled women who hope to get a fresh start on their lives. I can't say this for sure, but I feel like one of the first things that drew me to the character of GJ was how much her styling reminded me of Meryl's character in The Giver (same year):

Both are kind of considered wise elders, but Hunter had the more interesting character in a MUCH better production. 

Hunter talks a bit more about the character in a separate clip of this interview. It's interesting how she describes GJ as "an enigma, someone considered a guru who has a following and doesn't want a following." I can totally envision Meryl being attracted to a character like that, having to work out and convey that inner dichotomy or contradiction. I've said it before and I'll say it again that Meryl likes things/concepts that are difficult. This character would certainly have offered that. It's quite natural to assume that she never got anywhere near playing it, considering Hunter and Campion's history with The Piano. But hey, that's why I do imagine her different roles as part of this project! I do wonder why Hunter, playing somebody from Switzerland, mostly sounds like herself. I bet Meryl would've adopted some level of a Swiss-German or Swiss-French accent for the part. 

Top of the Lake was a massive hit with critics, scoring a whopping 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and 87 on Metacritic. It was nominated for five Emmy Awards: Best Miniseries, Director(s), Screenplay, Lead Actress for Moss, and Supporting Actor for Mullan. All well-deserved.  


  1. I've heard of "Top Of The Lake" and had friends tell me how good it is. Maybe I'll see if I can stream it somewhere! I agree about the character sounding interesting. Was the tone similar to that of "True Detective" which was also huge at this time.

    My choice is a little odd as it's a voice role - Samantha the AI Operating System in "her" by Spike Jonze. I have always loved what Meryl can do with her voice and not having any physical presence in a non-amimated movie presents an actor which a challenge, one I'm sure Meryl would have enjoyed!

    The movie is as off-beat as we'd expect, with great acting all round and an unexpected story. I also love "Adaptation" and would love Meryl and Spike to get another opportunity to collaborate together on something memorable.

  2. Oh dear tarantino is rumored to chase cate blanchett for his last movie. There goes meryl’s chances. Sigh!

    1. Yes, I read the news about Cate Blanchett potentially being in Tarantino's sights for the role. But that it "might be too close to Lydia Tar" for her to accept. Makes sense to me. And I think Blanchett deserves every offer she gets. We don't even know if any of what we've read is true yet, however. And if Blanchett is cast, we might never know whether or not was even considered, AND if she had, whether or not she would've accepted. I'm not the only one who believe Meryl might be averse to saying yes to any Tarantino movie.