Meet The Cast Of The Gilded Age Season 2

"The Gilded Age," which premiered on HBO in January 2022, transported viewers to turn-of-the-century New York City. The vast economic shift during a period of swift industrial growth set the background, while intricate costume design, petty political play, and socioeconomic wars set the tone. Early reviews were golden and by February, the show was renewed for a second season (via Us Weekly). It is expected to premiere at some point in 2023.

Showrunner Julian Fellowes is no stranger to success, with the historical period drama "Downton Abbey" under his belt. Regarding the second season of "The Gilded Age," Fellowes told Us Weekly in May 2022 that he's happy with how it's going, though he remained fairly tight-lipped. What we do know is that Season 2 will feature key players from Season 1, as well as some fresh new faces to this elite world. Here's a look at who we expect to see in 2023.

Christine Baranski

Christine Baranski as the conservative Agnes van Rhijn will be back for Season 2, according to Glamour. Baranski's character, rooted in old money and tradition, is challenged as her young progressive niece travels from Pennsylvania to New York to come live with her, after the sudden death of her father. Often staying inside her manor with no desire to engage with the progressions of the neighborhood, stern and cold Aunt Agnes takes it upon herself to offer periodic unsolicited advice to her niece. 

"Playing powerful people is something I've learned to refine throughout my career, and there's a power that comes from stillness and trusting that your words and the way in which you say them will have authority," Baranski told Vogue. Baranski further shared her ties to the Gilded Age of America, saying, "My late husband [actor Matthew Cowles] was related to a Drexel, and his aunt was a society lady who wrote about the Gilded Age, so that period of American history has always particularly fascinated me."

Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon will be reprising her role as Ada van Rhjin, the gentler and kinder sister to Agnes, according to TV Insider. Though Ada is very much as set in her ways as Agnes is, there's a glimmer of possibility and hope in her as she begins to voice societal progression with her niece. "[Ada and Agnes'] lives are totally predictable, comfortable yet a little dead — certainly from Ada's point of view," Nixon shared with Deadline.

No stranger to HBO, Nixon explained how her character differs greatly from Miranda Hobbes, her "Sex and the City" character who'd live a century later. "I think that Ada could not even imagine a world in which someone like Miranda Hobbes would exist," she told Deadline. Nixon additionally shared with Vogue how intricate the set design of the show is, saying, "I can't think of another production I've been involved in that was so lavish and so large and so sweeping."

Louisa Jacobson

Reprising her role as the naïve and young Pennsylvania transplant, Marian Brook, actor Louisa Jacobson will be in Season 2 of "The Gilded Age," Deadline reported. Jacobson's character moves in with her aunts Agnes and Ada, establishing the first prominent plot point to the series. Throughout the first season, she navigates her way around Manhattan society and falls into a tryst with a social-climbing lawyer whom her aunts are disapproving of. Regarding working alongside such well-known names in the industry, Jacobson told Vogue, "Working with Christine and Cynthia has been like a TV masterclass, honestly." 

The lavish costumes, which are a staple of the show, were something Jacobson had to get used to. As she recalled, "When filming began, I had been in sweatpants for months because of the pandemic, and then all of a sudden, I'm in a corset every day." She continued, saying, "Corsets change the way that you breathe, the way that you eat, everything. They definitely helped me to get into Marian's headspace, though."

Carrie Coon

Carrie Coon returns as Bertha Russell, the forceful fifth avenue wife of a businessman with little integrity, according to Deadline. Mrs. Russell, loosely based on the real-life socialite Alva Vanderbilt, dresses in the finest fashion in her wealthy manor — though all the money and house servants in the world can't assist her in being welcomed into Manhattan high society. With opposing political views to that of her neighbors, Mrs. Russell soon understands she needs to rig the social game in her favor. "What I love is that she is aware of the game. She's learning what the rules are and wants desperately to be accepted into this very stratified, codified social sphere," Coon told Vanity Fair.

Regarding what she'd like to see her character go through in Season 2, Coon revealed, "As Bertha continues to achieve the milestones that are meaningful to her, I think it will be interesting to see her operating on another level that makes her more irresistible for people. Because she's gaining confidence and getting even savvier."

Denee Benton

Peggy Scott, played by Denee Benton, will make a return in "The Gilded Age" Season 2 (via Deadline). Viewers will recall Peggy Scott as the young upper-middle-class Black writer, who comes to be fast friends with Marion Brooks. Benton understands the level of importance in showcasing her character in the most well-rounded light as possible.

"It feels like this really powerful connection to the future of Black girls, and to the past," she shared with Harper's Bazaar. "Finding Peggy felt like I got to connect with this spiritual ancestry. She walked the tightrope that I walk, and I get to point back to the 1800s and be like, "Oh, there I am. There's that Black interior family life that I have." She went on to share the implied responsibility of playing a character who is underrepresented in television even today. "With Peggy," she said, "it feels like me getting to breathe life into this ancestor who shows us who we always have been, and therefore, what we always can be."

Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald is set to reprise her role as Dorothy Scott, Peggy's mother, in "The Gilded Age" Season 2. Dorothy is undoubtedly the backbone of her family. An accomplished pianist, Dorothy is supportive of her daughter's dreams of becoming a New York writer. Her love and determination to keep her family together are tested, as long-standing tensions rise between her daughter and her husband.

McDonald is no stranger to drama herself. A well-known Broadway star, she heard the word on the street about the casting of "The Gilded Age." "I eat all those costume dramas up," she admitted to Newsweek. "Word started circulating that this project was happening and I knew from my good pal, Christine [Baranski], that she was going to be a part of it and it seemed like every person on Broadway was being cast." She went on to share her excitement in representing Black people during the Gilded Age of America. "There were many, many different classes of Black people during that period. I'm thrilled to be a part of it and thrilled that it's happening," she said.

Christopher Denham

Newcomer Christopher Denham will be joining the cast of Season 2 of "The Gilded Age" as a recurring guest star, according to Deadline. Denham is set to play Robert McNeil. While not much is known about his character, as of this writing, we do know that he's a wealthy banker who is in the process of navigating his way through Manhattan high society along with his wife. Additionally, Deadline shared a description of the character: "A wealthy, mainstream, somewhat uptight banker who is trying to navigate New York high society with his wife."

Christopher Denham was born in Illinois. Much like several other cast members of the show, Denham has a few Broadway credits to his name, such as "China Doll." He's also played the title role in "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" and starred in "'Master Harold'...and the Boys" alongside Danny Glover. On screen, Denham is best known for his roles in the feature films "Argo" and "Shutter Island."

David Furr

An exciting newcomer joining Season 2 is actor David Furr, according to Deadline. Furr is credited as playing the character of Dashiell Montgomery, who is Agnes' nephew by marriage. Deadline revealed that the rich and widowed Dashiell just recently moved to New York with his adolescent daughter named Frances.

Like many of the cast members who work on "The Gilded Age", Furr is predominantly a theater actor. In 2016, he even earned a Tony award nomination for his role in the Roundabout Theater Company's Broadway revival of "Noises Off." He's also been nominated for a few other theater awards for his work on stage. On screen, Furr may be best known for his role in "13 Hours," in which he starred alongside John Krasinski. Furr's other on-screen credits include his role as Jay Stark in "All My Children," Wendell Rand in "Iron Fist, "and Greg Valerian in "Bull."

Laura Benanti

Joining the cast for Season 2 of "The Gilded Age" is actor Laura Benanti, Deadline reported. According to the publication, Benanti's character is named Susan Blane. When we meet Susan, she will be recently widowed by a wealthy man, who is described as boring and many years older than her. Susan is further described as a glamorous woman who lives in Newport. With plans to renovate her home, she hires Larry, the architect, played by Harry Richardson

Born in New York City, Benanti is an accomplished theater actress and trained singer. She won a Tony award for the 2008 Broadway revival of "Gypsy" and was nominated for additional Tony awards over the years (via Playbill). One of her more notable film credits includes Lin-Manual Miranda's "Tick, tick...BOOM". On the small screen, Benanti has some impressive credits, with recurring roles in shows such as "Nurse Jackie," "Nashville," "Gossip Girl," and Hulu's "Life and Beth."

Robert Sean Leonard

Beloved "House" alum, actor Robert Sean Leonard, will be joining the cast of Season 2 of "The Gilded Age," according to The Wrap. Leonard's character is reportedly named Reverend Matthew Forte. While there's still much to be revealed about his character, Deadline reported that Leonard's character has just recently moved from Boston to New York. He is described as "a jovial, congenial man." Reverend Forte is reported to be the new rector of a church that all of New York high society attends.

Following the majority of the cast, Robert Sean Leonard has deep roots in theater, with multiple stage credits under his name. He joins the cast as another Tony award winner, for his 2001 role in "The Invention of Love" (via Playbill). His other theater credits include "The Music Man" and "To Kill a Mockingbird". Viewers may also recognize Leonard from the beloved classic film "Dead Poets Society," in which he starred alongside the late, great Robin Williams, or as Dr. Wilson on the hit Fox show "House."