Julian Fellowes The Gilded Age Announcement HBO Drama SeriesJulian Fellowes The Gilded Age Announcement HBO Drama Series

Julian Fellowes’ ‘The Gilded Age’ Announces Its Cast

The stars of the new drama series from the Downton Abbey creator will include Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, and Amanda Peet. Here's what you need to know.

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What’s it about?

In 1882, against the backdrop of the American Gilded Age, a period of immense economic change when huge fortunes were made and lost, Marian Brook, the orphaned daughter of a Union general, 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, as she struggles to decide between adhering to the established rules of society, or forging her own path in a new world on the brink of transformation.

Who’s starring in it?

Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Amanda Peet (Togetherness), Morgan Spector (Boardwalk Empire), Denée Benton, Louisa Jacobson, Taissa Farmiga, Blake Ritson, Simon Jones, Harry Richardson, Thomas Cocquerel, Jack Gilpin and Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love) have all signed on.

Who will they play?

Christine Baranski as Agnes van Rhijn, 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’ fortune 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.

Cynthia Nixon as Ada Brook, who unlike her sister, never found a husband, and was forced to rely on Agnes’ charity. She is not naturally confrontational, but she is capable of standing up for what she believes.

Amanda Peet 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.

Morgan Spector as George Russell, a classic robber baron of his own time. Russell is pleasant enough in company, 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.

Denée Benton as Peggy Scott. Peggy was a young child when slavery was abolished and her parents were freed in West Virginia. Raised in New York, she is among the first generation of African Americans who never really knew slavery firsthand. She has a past which she is not anxious to share with anyone, but like Marian, she is in need of a friend and a new start when they meet in Doyleston, Pennsylvania.

Louisa Jacobson as Marian Brook. Marian knows that her probable fate will be to marry as well as she can and survive, but she wants more than this. She is of her own time, but there is a modern streak in her, too. She wants to do something with her life. She wants to be fulfilled.

Taissa Farmiga as Gladys Russell, a classic, innocent and lovely child of the rich who wants to be out in society meeting suitable young men. She doesn’t really know how her father made his money, and she doesn’t much care, but she is used to it and wouldn’t know what to do without it. Her mother uses her as a tool for her own ambition and forces her toward socially advantageous situations.

Blake Ritson as Oscar van Rhijn, Agnes van Rhijn’s charismatic son. He's decided it's time to settle down and has become obsessed with money while on the lookout for a serious heiress who will allow him to live, as he would put it, properly. Smart, attractive, poised, charming and mischievous, he enjoys witty banter. He is one of the few who will stand up to his mother.

Simon Jones as Bannister, the van Rhijn’s butler. He likes to give the impression that he is immensely grand but in fact, he was the son of a poor cobbler from the English midlands. He came up the hard way, learning how to speak, how to dress, how to behave, changing jobs each time he felt he was ready for the next step. He joined the van Rhijn household a year before the death of Mr. van Rhijn and so, for the old lady, he is a link with her own past.

Harry Richardson as Larry Russell, a recent Harvard University graduate eager to make his way in the world. Above all, Larry is his mother's child, her Achilles' heel, the one person she loves without limit and he loves her as well. He thinks he doesn't care about money, because he has always had plenty of it.

Thomas Cocquerel as Tom Raikes, a sensible young lawyer from Doylestown, PA. He’s been a solitary and career-driven practical man but is smitten when he meets Marian, his late client’s orphaned daughter. He’ll put up a fight to get what he wants, but he’s an appealing, charming gentleman above all else.

Jack Gilpin as Church, the Russell family’s butler. He has no time for nonsense in the workplace due to his attention and care for his job.

Jeanne Tripplehorn as Sylvia Chamberlain, a tall and beautiful enigmatic figure. A genuine expert in the creative arts and a great art collector, she is entirely excluded from high society because of her suspected past.

Who’s behind the camera?

Julian Fellowes — best known for creating, writing and executive-producing the award-winning Downton Abbey — is the creator, writer and executive producer on the series. Gareth Neame will executive produce; Michael Engler will direct and executive produce; David Crockett is also an executive producer. Gilded Age is a co-production between HBO and Universal Television.

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