The Gilded Age is HBO’s new historical drama, and it follows a young woman as she relocates from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to live with her aunts after the death of her father. She meets artists-in-training, those looking to move up the social ladder, and a fair dose of old money/new money conflict among Manhattan’s upper class.
The Gilded Age’s pilot episode was not only a visual feast because of the exquisite set design and costuming, but it also introduced several intriguing themes that we can’t wait to see where they go. But how historically accurate is that plot, and may we look forward to actual historical individuals (or perhaps a Season 2)? Get answers to all your questions regarding HBO’s upcoming series, The Gilded Age.
Who is in The Gilded Age Cast?
Louisa Jacobson, the real-life daughter of Meryl Streep, plays the fictional young woman Marian Brook in the HBO drama.
Peggy Scott (Denée Benton, who you may recognize from UnREAL) is a writer-to-be from the African American community, and Marian, a recent transplant to New York City, befriends her.
Agnes (Christine Baranski, The Good Fight) and Ada (also Baranski) are Marian’s wealthy aunts who raise her (Cynthia Nixon). Agnes in particular is rankled by the entry of industry-driven “new money” in New York, personified by railroad tycoon George Russell (MorganSpencer) and his socially ambitious wife Bertha (CarrieCoon), who moves in across the street from Agnes and Ada.
Who is George Russell Based on?
George Russell, the “robber baron” of new money, played on the show by MorganSpector, has been the subject of much speculation among Season 1 viewers. As Fellowes has stated on the official Gilded Age podcast, Russell is a fictitious rendition of a real historical figure—and Spector has speculated that his character’s real-life analog is railroad magnate of the late 1800s, Jay Gould.
While discussing the parallels between his character and the real Gould, Spector described his character as a “19th-century industrialist, a robber baron” in a promotional video. “Press coverage of Gould at the time was quite negative.
As time went on, he grew to personify the era’s systemic injustices. He has unfathomable amounts of power, and he sometimes uses them to crush weaker individuals like ants. There’s a side of George that, at times, is almost monstrous in the way he gives free license to his own rage.”
The Gilded Age: Fiction or Fact?
Although the events of The Gilded Age are not based on actual events, the novel does incorporate historical figures such as the Astors, who became wealthy through the fur trade and became prominent members of New York’s upper class.
Aunt Agnes suggests John Quincy Adams III, the great-grandson of former U.S. president John Quincy Adams, as a potential suitor for Marian, but by the end of the first episode, it is revealed that Marian’s cousin Oscar has already won Adams’ heart.
Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, designed by the same real-life architect, Stanford White, who built the Russells’ enormous estate, appears on the show as the façade of the enigmatic and scandalous Mrs. Chamberlain’s (Jeanne Tripplehorn) residence.
Season 1 will also include Clara Barton (Linda Emond), founder of the American Red Cross, and T. Thomas Fortune (Sullivan Jones), an African-American writer who owned the New York Age newspaper and in 1887 created the National Afro-American League, one of the antecedents to the NAACP.
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Keep an eye out for Nathan Lane, who will be appearing regularly as Ward McAllister, New York’s self-proclaimed “arbiter of social taste” and author of “The Four Hundred,” a list of the city’s select few who are considered to be in style. Mr. McAllister’s patron? Astor, Caroline, Mrs.
Where was The Gilded Age Filmed?
The Gilded Age was shot primarily in New York and Rhode Island, with Newport, Rhode Island, double casting as both New York and itself. The Preservation Society of Newport County provided the use of several Gilded Age mansions that had been restored to their original splendor.
Mrs. Fish throws a party in Newport at the premiere of The Gilded Age. Her estate, known as The Ledges, was once a summer residence for tea and china dealer Robert Cushing and is currently owned by his heirs.
Rooms from several distinct Newport homes have been incorporated into the Russells’ expansive home. Part of their ballroom was filmed in the music room of The Breakers, a holiday residence commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt and erected in the 1890s, while other sequences were filmed on Long Island. The Elms was the summer home of coal magnate Julius Berwind and his wife, and it was from there that we snagged these kitchens.
The Gilded Age is HBO’s new historical drama, following a young woman as she relocates from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to live with her aunts after the death of her father. It follows artists-in-training, those looking to move up the social ladder, and a fair dose of old money/new money conflict among Manhattan’s upper class.
Louisa Jacobson, the real-life daughter of Meryl Streep, plays Marian Brook, and Peggy Scott, a writer-to-be from the African American community, befriends her.
George Russell, the “robber baron” of new money, played by Morgan Spector, is a fictitious rendition of a real historical figure, and Spector has speculated that his character’s real-life analog is railroad magnate of the late 1800s, Jay Gould. The Gilded Age is a novel based on historical figures such as the Astors, Clara Barton, and T.
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