By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 27, 2014 at 5:16PM
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."