Christine Baranski & More Cast in ‘The Gilded Age’ From ‘Downton Abbey’ Creator

Variety announced that four actors have joined the cast of The Gilded Age, an upcoming HBO series from Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey.

Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Amanda Peet, and Morgan Spector have all been cast as series regulars in the period piece drama.

If you’re a Downton Abbey fan without a HBO subscription, this synopsis might change your mind on the latter:

Set in the titular period of American history, beginning in 1882, The Gilded Age centers on young Marian Brook, the orphaned daughter of a Southern general, who moves into the home of her rigidly conventional aunts in New York City. Accompanied by the mysterious Peggy Scott, an African-American woman masquerading as her maid, Marian gets caught up in the dazzling lives of her stupendously rich neighbors, led by a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife struggling for acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set.

Here are the character breakdowns for each actor:

  • Baranski will star as Agnes van Rhijn. The character is described as a proud and stubborn aristocrat who will never accept that the world has changed, and that ancient values are being replaced by new ones. She found herself penniless as her parents’ plantation was foundering, even before the war, but she managed to catch a husband just in time. Agnes has a son named Oscar, whom she worships, but her worship is not returned.
  • Nixon will play Ada Brook. Ada is another victim of the collapse of the old south, but unlike her sister Agnes, she never found a way to get out until it was too late, and she was forced back on her sister’s charity. She is not naturally confrontational, but she is capable of standing up for what she believes.
  • Peet will appear as Bertha Russell. Bertha comes from the ordinary middle-class. She backed her instincts when she set out to catch her husband George, the son of a merchant family who has proved to be a financial genius. She is determined to use her money and position to break into a society that resists change at every turn.
  • Spector will portray George Russell. A classic robber baron of his own time, Russell is pleasant enough in company. He’s fond of his wife and his children, but utterly ruthless in business. He has already acquired millions, and billions will follow. In every challenge, George must win.

The Gilded Age has a 10-episode production commitment with HBO. It had previously been ordered to series at NBC, but HBO seems like a better fit for the material.

I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan (the movie sequel is one of the most enjoyable experiences you will have in a theatre this year), so I’m excited to see what Fellowes has cooking up. From the synopsis, casting, and character breakdowns alone it’s clear that Fellowes is not cutting corners. HBO is a network that will give Fellowes the creative freedom he needs to realize this long-awaited project.

We’ll keep you updated as more casting becomes available.

Do you think The Gilded Age can become the next Downton Abbey? Will you be watching on HBO?

Author: Marmaduke Karlston

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute Doc, uh, are you telling me you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?"