“We’re like sisters!” Gilded Age stars Cynthia & Christine on their special bond

The stars tell all about the second season of the dazzling period drama.
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Hollywood icons Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski play rich New York sisters in the period drama The Gilded Age, but it’s not the first time they’ve played family.

“It was back in 1984 on a show on Broadway called The Real Thing,” says Christine, 71. “I actually played her mother, so it’s kind of weird that we’re sisters now! We laugh about that.”

Cynthia says it’s “a dream” to play Christine’s sister in the show, with the actresses now in their second season of playing wealthy siblings Ada Brook and Agnes van Rhijn.

“I love it,” says Cynthia, 57. “We actually go way back, so it’s wonderful to be able to work with her again. I love the relationship we get to play out together between these two sisters who really do love each other, and I’m so glad that we get to see a lot more of that this season.”

the gilded age stars Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski.
(Credit: Paramount Plus)

The show has been described as a historical tale mixed with opulent escapism, and with Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame at the helm, it’s a certified visual delight.

Though the characters are fictional, the show’s central Russell family were inspired by the real-life Vanderbilts, who were America’s wealthiest family for a time.

Cynthia chalks The Gilded Age’s success down to “the same reason Downton was so popular” – Julian’s unique and captivating style.

“It’s beautifully written, beautifully cast, gorgeous to look at and it’s set in a fascinating period in history,” says the Emmy-winning star.

Christine agrees that it’s a thrill to work on a Julian Fellowes set, saying, “He works so hard to research and write The Gilded Age, and the way he has moved from an English history setting to American is a testament to his talent.”

the gilded age season 2 cynthia and christine
(Credit: Paramount Plus)

The show’s second season, which is now available to stream, along with season one, on Paramount Plus, centres around a new rival opera house being built, which Christine’s “old school, stubborn” character Agnes is “utterly appalled” about.

“She will do almost anything to stop it, even though she does go to the opera,” she laughs.

“Agnes isn’t necessarily a great lover of music or the arts, but she certainly values her place in her box, which has been in her family for years.”

Both actresses agree there are similarities between New York in the late 1800s and society today, and the themes explored in the show.

“There is new money coming in and big changes happening. Some people are feeling left behind because of that,” Cynthia explains. “Now it’s tech money, back then it was industrial revolution money. In a grotesque way, immigrants facing prejudice and maybe competition, as they saw it back then, and women trying to push the envelope, has parallels to now.”

the gilded age cast at the premiere for season one
(Credit: Getty Images)

Just like the jaw-dropping wardrobe she got to wear as Miranda on Sex And The City, Cynthia’s character has the pleasure of dressing in some showstopping gowns.

“They are incredible. The costumes are almost characters all of their own,” she says.

“They are a lot to wear at times. They can be challenging! But I feel so lucky to wear such beautiful creations.”

As for Christine, her role on The Gilded Age is yet another reason why she loves working in television so much – even though TV, films or Hollywood in general were never in her big life plan!

“I was raising children and I didn’t want to give up my theatre career,” she says. “I didn’t really make the jump to television until my early 40s. I was a late starter!”

Stream The Gilded Age on Paramount Plus. Sign up today.

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