EXCLUSIVE: HBO’s The Gilded Age is adding two more Tony winners to its cast for Season 2. Laura Benanti and Robert Sean Leonard are set to recur on the period drama, created, written and executive produced by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.
Also joining Season 2 as recurring guest stars are Christopher Denham, David Furr, Ben Lamb, Matilda Lawler, Dakin Mathews, Michael Braugher, and Nicole Brydon Bloom, with Rebeca Haden, who briefly appeared in Season 1 will be back for a full-blown recurring role as the mysterious Flora McNeil.
Benanti and Leonard join a formidable roster of Tony-winning Gilded Age series regular and recurring cast members, including Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Audra McDonald, Nathan Lane, Michael Cerveris, Katie Finneran, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Debra Monk, Donna Murphy and Kelli O’Hara.
The announcement last week of The Gilded Age’s returning series regular and recurring cast provided some clues about where some storylines may be headed. There is more information about potential Season 2 plots in the descriptions of the new recurring characters, which you can read later in the story in full. Here are some highlights.
After zeroing in on Gladys Russell for most of Season 1, Agnes’ son Oscar may be shifting his attention to another rich heiress to marry. Meanwhile, Bertha may try to match Gladys with a posh British Duke in a move echoing Cora and Robert Crawley from Downton Abbey.
After he appeared to finally be getting his father George’s approval to pursue a career in architecture at the end of Season 1, Larry Russell seems to be excelling at that, spearheading major mansion renovations. Meanwhile, after her niece Marian arrived to New York last season, we will see a nephew of Agnes’ next.
We also learn that Flora McNeil, whom Watson has been watching from afar, raising fan speculation that he might be her father, “has been brought up to believe the lie that her father deserted her and her mother.” There is also a new wealthy banker character named Robert McNeil.
Like Fellowes did in Season 1, he will continue to be mixing historical figures with his fictional characters. Educator Booker T. Washington will appear in Season 2, possibly helping bring closer together Peggy Scott and her editor T. Thomas Fortune who will travel to meet him for an assignment.
Here are more details about the newly added recurring guest stars’ characters:
ROBERT SEAN LEONARD as Reverend Matthew Forte: A jovial, congenial man, and recent transplant from Boston, Matthew is the new rector of the church attended by all the highest New York society.
LAURA BENANTI as Susan Blane: Recently widowed by a rich, dull man many years her senior, Susan is a very beautiful, glamorous woman living in Newport who hires Larry as her architect for a major renovation on her Newport home.
NICOLE BRYDON BLOOM as Caroline Stuyvesant: A beguiling socialite, Oscar immediately recognizes her as the perfect heiress for marriage and a great match for his wit and disposition, while she finds him to be a valued confidant.
MICHAEL BRAUGHER as Booker T. Washington: The famed educator, he invites NY journalists Thomas Fortune (Sullivan Jones) and Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) to tour his new school in Tuskegee.
CHRISTOPHER DENHAM as Robert McNeil: A wealthy, mainstream, somewhat uptight banker who is trying to navigate New York high society with his wife.
DAVID FURR as Dashiell Montgomery: Agnes’ nephew by marriage, he is wealthy, widowed and has recently moved to New York with his school-age daughter Frances.
BEN LAMB as The Duke of Buckingham: A posh British nobleman recently arrived in New York, he catches Bertha’s eye as a tool for her ambition and match for Gladys.
MATILDA LAWLER as Frances Montgomery: Daughter to Dashiell Montgomery, she is innocent, naturally charming, endearing and well-bred with good manners.
DAKIN MATTHEWS as Mr. Winterton: A very rich widower, he married his new, young wife after an extremely short courtship – so short she hadn’t yet met any of his society friends and he is unaware of her past.
REBECCA HADEN as Flora McNeil: Flora has lived at the top of New York society, and has been brought up to believe the lie that her father deserted her and her mother.
The official logline for Season 2: The Gilded Age was a period of immense economic change, of huge fortunes made and lost, and of fierce rivalry between old money and new. Nowhere is that rivalry more apparent than on East 61st Street, where Marian Brook and her thoroughly old money aunts, Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook, live opposite the stupendously rich George and Bertha Russell. The Russells are both fiercely ambitious, he financially, she socially, and they are determined to reach the highest echelons of New York. Meanwhile in Brooklyn, Marian’s friend and confidant Peggy Scott forges her own path in the world of the Black elite. In this glittering world on the brink of the modern age, will the established rules of society prevail, or will the game change entirely?
Fellowes executive produces with Gareth Neame, series’ director Michael Engler, David Crockett, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Bob Greenblatt. Co-executive producing are writer Sonja Warfield and historical consultant Erica Dunbar. Bernie Telsey and Adam Caldwell from Telsey + Company are the show’s casting directors. The Gilded Age is a co-production between HBO and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group.
Benanti, who is newly repped by Gersh, can currently be seen in in the Hulu series Life & Beth opposite Amy Schumer and recurs on HBO Max’s Gossip Girl. She recently debuted in the film Worth at the Sundance Film Festival opposite Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci and Amy Ryan and also recently wrapped on the film Here Today starring opposite Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish. She is managed by Untitled.
House alum Leonard was recently seen in Nat Geo’s Hot Zone: Anthrax. He is repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Bloom is repped by Gersh and Authentic Talent and Literary Management. Braugher is repped by A3 Artists Agency and Authentic. Denham is repped by Gersh and Authentic. Furr is repped by Innovative Artists. Haden is repped by CESD and Wishlab Inc. Lamb is repped by Independent Talent Group (UK) and Industry Entertainment. Lawler is repped by Untitled Entertainment, CESD, and Schreck Rose Dapello. Matthews is repped by Henderson Hogan Agency.