[These interviews were conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike authorization.]
Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon) finally has her foot in the door of 1883 Manhattan society in HBO‘s The Gilded Age Season 2, but the door to the coveted Academy of Music remains closed. No matter. She’ll make the fledgling Metropolitan Opera the place to be instead! And that’s just one intrigue for The Gilded Age’s second season.
TV Insider was on set of Julian Fellowes‘ glamorous period drama in September 2022. There, we spoke with Coon, Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Louisa Jacobson, Fellowes, and the team behind the camera as they filmed a pivotal garden party scene on the lush grounds of Long Island’s Old Westbury estate. The former home to an heir of the Phipps family fortune, this was a perfect locale to host the series’ fictional steel magnates and their families.
George (Morgan Spector) and Bertha Russell are as hellbent to get to the top as ever in the new episodes, premiering October 29 on HBO and streaming on Max, and last season’s setbacks and victories will make them even more cutthroat. While George handles the money (and union troubles at his railroad), Bertha handles their social rise.
“George wants to be the richest and most powerful man in the country. That is his motivation,” Fellowes told journalists on set. “I personally don’t think he cares much about society, but he cares about his wife. And because she wants to be the dominating factor in New York society, he will support her in that and anything he can do to support her, he will do. That’s why I don’t think he cares if he knows a duchess or he’s having dinner with a princess. He could give a monkey’s toss about that. He just wants people to shake in the knee when he comes in the room, because he can break them just like that.”
“What I hope I’ve created in Bertha and George are one of those marriages where they both have quite separate fields of endeavor and each one of them is 100 percent supportive of the other one’s ambitions,” Fellowes continues, “so any way they can help, they will.”
The Russells aren’t the only well-off family with their eyes on the social prize. Below, the stars of The Gilded Age reveal the social battlefronts of Season 2.
The Gilded Age, Season 2 Premiere, Sunday, October 29, 9/8c, HBO
This is an expanded excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2023 Returning Favorites issue. For more first looks at fall’s returning shows, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.