What did you want to explore with the relationship between Robin and her daughter, Mary? Because it isn’t the typical mother-daughter dynamic by any means.
What I loved was the fact that when Robin first meets Mary, she doesn’t feel like a mother. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to feel. I think that’s really honest. I think that’s a really accurate portrayal of what that would be, and I love that. I love that she doesn’t [know how to react to the moment], like, "Am I supposed to feel something?" And then she has to figure out how she can be a mother to this girl. How does this work? How can she be of help to her? What does it mean to her to be a mother? How is it different from Julia [Mary’s estranged adoptive mother, played by Nicole Kidman,] being a mother? That’s probably the giant big lesson of this installment for her and I think that she finds it in this way of embracing the qualities that she already has. All of Robin’s best qualities are her search for honesty. She has a bullsh*t detector. She uses her mind to solve these cases and she’s also a caretaker and loves children and is very good talking to children and treats them like adults. All of her best qualities come out with Mary.
How would you mark where Robin ends up at the end of this season versus where she started off?
I do think that the ending of China Girl is very different for Robin than the ending the first time around, because that was kind of devastating. (Laughs.) It’s different, and that’s a good thing.
Top of the Lake premieres with a two-hour debut Sunday, Sept. 10, before airing back-to-back episodes on Monday, Sept. 11 and Tuesday, Sept. 12, all at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV.