‘The Gilded Age’: Morgan Spector Breaks Down George & Bertha’s Fight from Season 2 (VIDEO)

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Everyone loves The Gilded Age‘s central couple, but George (Morgan Spector) and Bertha (Carrie Coon) gave fans reason to worry in Season 2. George had long been keeping Turner’s (Kelley Curran) attempted seduction secret from Bertha for months. Concealing this secret, while well intended, was a dirty act of betrayal in the eyes of Mrs. Russell. In the video interview above, Spector watches the scene where Bertha learns of the betrayal and reveals behind-the-scenes details about how it came together. Welcome to Scene Study with TV Insider.

Spector gushes over his co-star while watching the scene, saying that Coon has a unique ability to just fall apart when the moment requires it.

“Carrie Coon has this quality about her that you’re just rooting for her, you’re just on her side no matter what kind of character she’s playing,” he says. “She has the capacity that very few actors have to really just go to pieces. When you’re in a scene with somebody and they do that, and it’s your character’s fault, it’s awful. It was a difficult scene to play for that reason. She just brings so much real emotion to the room.”

The Russells are the wealthiest family of The Gilded Age. In Season 2, we saw Bertha welcomed into old-money society, a hard-won victory she wrested from the stubborn hands of Mrs. Astor (the fabulous Donna Murphy). But a box at the Academy of Music was her white whale, the one place in Manhattan’s elite culture in which she wasn’t granted welcome.

Obviously, these are not real problems when compared to the plight of marginalized groups. But for this upper-class world, it’s the biggest of slights. Bertha spent the entirety of the season fighting this exclusion by excluding the old money crowd herself from the newly built Metropolitan Opera House. Spector says that “the relationship between Bertha and George is so core for me for what makes the show enjoyable to do,” as “their love for each is what makes them at all redeemable or interesting because otherwise, they’re these clawing, ambitious strivers with far too much money.”

Carrie Coon and Morgan Spector in 'The Gilded Age' Season 2 Episode 3

Barbara Nitke / HBO

Scenes like this fight in Season 2 Episode 3 become the meatiest work that he loves most. The most important preparation for the scene was figuring out “how to calibrate her outrage and George’s response.” “As a person in 2024, if this was a situation I was in with my real-life partner I would be abject … There would be a lot more transparent communication that I was wrong there. Despite wanting to do that emotionally in the scene, it was about pulling that back and letting George be a little more of the 19th-century patriarch despite the fact that they do have this modern relationship.”

The most “crucial” part of the scene, according to Spector, is “the moment of why George didn’t tell her.” “His answer is so weak,” Spector says. “‘There’s nothing to tell.’ There’s obviously something to tell. I just love how George is forced to slow drip these increasingly horrifying details: She came into his bed, she was naked, he didn’t tell her. These are the escalating beats of the scene that ultimately drive [Bertha] out of the room. There’s nothing more she can do or say. It’s just too horrifying. George doesn’t just come out with it. He doesn’t just admit everything right away. And he doesn’t soften it.”

The defining part of George’s character in this scene is his loving defiance for his wife. George feels “he did the right thing” in rejecting Turner entirely and wants “some credit” for that. His ignorance is also the problem. “By allowing Turner to have information about Bertha that Bertha didn’t have, he betrayed his intimacy with her.”

Learn more about why this scene is the defining moment of George and Bertha’s Season 2 arc, plus why Spector loves depicting such a sensual couple in an era when sex was taboo, in the full video interview above.

The Gilded Age, Seasons 1 & 2 Available now, Max, Season 3 Premiere TBA, HBO

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