Taissa Farmiga, Blake Ritson Chase Freedom in Julian Fellowes’ Latest Costume Drama (Exclusive)


The Gilded AgeIntroduces a new set of young characters to the world of costume drama. Downton AbbeyJulian Fellowes is the creator. Gladys Russell (played by Taissa Farmiga) and Oscar van Rhijn (played by Blake Ritson) are two of the characters who seek freedom at all costs. Gladys Russell, played by Taissa farmiga, finds it difficult to find freedom, while Oscar van Rhijn, played by Blake Ritson has more experience and is not under his mother’s direct control.

Gladys, as viewers saw in the premiere of the film, is the daughter George (Morgan Spector), who are trying climb New York’s socio-economic ladder. Bertha insists that Gladys not have a social life until the Russells can be welcomed into society. Then she can have a huge ball to introduce Gladys. She finds it exhausting.

“The thing that I relate to immediately with Gladys was her frustration of growing up in a house with seemingly arbitrary rules,” Farmiga told PopCulture.com. “They didn’t make sense and why she couldn’t go out, why she couldn’t just find a husband. Fine, she can’t have freedom without a husband? Then let her get a husband.”Gladys is having a hard time finding a man Bertha can accept.

Gladys and her mother have a huge disconnect. Gladys was raised in wealth, while Bertha grew-up in a working-class household. Gladys is unable to comprehend why she doesn’t have freedom yet. “She doesn’t want to do what her parents want her to do and I think every person can relate to that in some regard,” Farmiga said.

Oscar is very different from Gladys. His mother Agnes (Christine Baranski) loves him and he’s charismatic. His path to freedom takes a different route. Oscar is in search of a bride. He’s pragmatic about this. It is revealed at the end that Oscar is gay and lives in a society that does not accept it. Oscar knows now that he should be focusing on finding an heir.

“Back in the day, marriage was far more transactional. Not every marriage was predicated upon love,”Ritson said. “So the idea that Oscar’s kind of hunting for an heiress, but also wants to find happiness elsewhere… I don’t think it was such an alien concept at the time in the way that it is now where one expects kind of marriage to be everything. It’s a kind of composite of life partner, happiness, and relationship. But… there is a certain incompatibility there, which I’m sure will erupt forth at some point.”

Period dramas tend to focus on older characters in a dramatic way, but The Gilded AgeThe 1880s was a time when life was not so different for younger generations. While they may not have smartphones, that same spirit rebelling is still evident. “The older generations have a very enshrined way of doing things in their own moral and behavioral codes, and it’s for the next generation to kind of pick away at them and challenge them,”PopCulture was informed by Ritson. “I think this show does a brilliant job at showing that.”

The Gilded Age Airs Mondays at 9 PM on HBO ET. HBO Max has the latest episodes every day.