Loved Top Of The Lake? 11 Facts About Its Director That Will Blow Your Mind

Francesca Rice
by Francesca Rice

If BBC2 drama Top Of The Lake has had you hooked, you’ll be as fascinated as we are by its director, Jane Campion. Here are 11 facts you didn’t know about the acclaimed filmmaker.


1. Jane was the first female filmmaker in history to receive the Palme d'Or award for her 1993 film, The Piano. She was also the second woman to ever receive an Oscar nomination for Best Director.

2. She married her former husband Colin David Englert, an Australian who worked with her on The Piano, in 1992.

3. Jane and Colin had a son, Jasper, a year later, but he tragically died 12 days after his birth. The couple divorced when their daughter Alice was 7.

4. Jane actually owns a hut on New Zealand’s South Island, where Top Of The Lake is set, and came up with the plot while on a walk in the area. The image of a young girl walking into a frosty lake popped into her head and the story took shape from there. 

5. Jane nearly cast her daughter, 18-year-old Alice, in Top Of The Lake, until the teenager won a part in 2012’s Ginger And Rosa.

6. Jane grew up in the world of acting – her father was a theatre and opera director – but started off by doing a degree in Anthropology. She then studied painting in London and Sydney, where she now lives.

7. She turned to filmmaking after becoming dissatisfied with the limits of the painting medium, and made her first short film, Tissues, in 1980.

8. Elisabeth Moss wasn’t Jane’s first choice to play the lead character in Top Of The Lake – she originally wanted to cast Anna Paquin, who played the daughter in The Piano, but the True Blood star was pregnant, so Moss scooped the part.

Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss plays the main character, Detective Robin Griffin

9. Top Of The Lake wasn’t Jane’s first foray into televison – her 1990 film An Angel at My Table was initially broadcast as a three-part mini-TV series in New Zealand.

10. According to The Independent, Jane is ‘surprisingly giggly’ – hardly what viewers of The Piano might expect.

11. Jane’s views on family are fairly fluid. She recently told the Guardian that Ben Whishaw (who played John Keats in her film Bright Star) has become her ‘new son’, while she herself has been ‘adopted’ by a woman who is younger than her

Jane with 'new son' Ben Wishaw

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