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Elisabeth Moss Wows Sundance with Two Films, 'The One I Love' and 'Listen Up Philip' (TRAILERS)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 27, 2014 at 5:16PM

Elisabeth Moss talks two Sundance entries shot during her "Mad Men" hiatus, "The One I Love" and "Listen Up Philip." "When Hollywood succeeds it wants to repeat itself, make a movie like THAT," she says. "I tend to look for things that are new and different and that we haven't seen in a movie."
Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass in 'The One I Love'
Photo by Doug Emmett Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass in 'The One I Love'

Just as we've watched Peggy Olson mature on "Mad Men," Los Angeles actress Elisabeth Moss is turning out to be one of the more compelling young actresses working today. Her greatest success has been in television, where she played Zoe Bartlet, the daughter of the president on "West Wing," and most recently,New Zealand police officer Robin Griffin in Jane Campion and Gerard Lee's miniseries "Top of the Lake," for which she won the Best Actress in a Miniseries Golden Globe.

During her "Mad Men" hiatus, Moss crammed in two movies that both played Sundance. In "The One I Love" she plays Mark Duplass's wife, trying to rekindle their marriage after he has had an affair. At a relaxing weekend retreat they confront the younger versions of their romantic selves who they wish they could still be. But is it too late?

Moss took a break from the mid-season filming of "Mad Men" to come to Park City. She was 23 when they shot the "Mad Men" pilot, and is 31 now. With various uneven hiatuses, she's been on that show for nine years. She recognizes that "a lot of women connect with Peggy, who represents all women. I always wanted her to be the representative of a woman at any age and any time period."

Because Peggy is so different from her, says Moss, that has "given me leeway. She's a very specific character and that has enabled me as an actress to be challenged and be able to hopefully show other sorts of women in other things I want to do." 

Three days after finishing Season Five Moss went around the world to a different hemisphere to do "Top of the Lake," which was "quite the adventure," working with two very different directors who shared a "pride in having a female lead who was a strong independent smart woman." When "Mad Men" ends she's planning to take a break from television to focus on theater and movies.

Both Sundance films presented not only strong scripts but talent attached who she wanted to work with. "They both were very different experiences for me," she says. "I got to explore modern relationships and things that maybe I would have a little more experience with in my everyday life."

She feels strongly about keeping the plot twists under wraps for "The One I Love," which was developed by executive producer Mark Duplass from his idea: "From testing the film and hearing audience reactions, so many people had no idea what the secret was and were so glad they didn't know. It's a valuable part of the story to be surprised by that element."

This article is related to: Top of the Lake, Sundance Film Festival, Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass, Interviews, Interviews , Interviews, Festivals

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.