Interview with Julian Fellowes, creator of The Gilded Age: after Downton Abbey, another period series for the English author, even if this time we are in New York.
Julian Fellowes is the king of period drama: awarded withOscar for screenplay Of Gosford ParkRobert Altman’s 2001 film, he also worked on Vanity Fair in Mira Nair (2004), The Young Victoria by Jean-Marc Vallée (2009) and, above all, he is the creator of one of the most loved TV series of all time, Downton Abbey (2010-2015).
His latest television effort is The Gilded Age, set, as the title suggests, during the “Gilded Age”, a period from 1870 to 1901, in the United States. There plot of The Gilded Age follows the story of Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), the daughter of a general who, orphaned, goes to live with her aunts in New York. Accompanying her is Peggy Scott (Denée Benton), an African-American maid.
The Gilded Age 2 has been on Sky since 30 October with eight new episodes. We talked about it with Julian Fellowes, who recommends following Peggy’s narrative arc carefully: “This season I’m very interested in the evolution of the character of Peggy, played magnificently by Denée Benton: she always redefines the concept of what is possible. For many of us, growing up means discovering what’s possible in the span of 15 to 30. Let’s understand what we can do, what to aspire to. I love seeing this in Peggy: she has great energy, fun to watch“.
The Gilded Age 2: trama
The plot of The Gilded Age 2 sees the balance between the characters upset, as Fellowes himself says: “In this second season we changed the dynamic of the relationship between the two sisters, Agnes and Ada, simply by giving money to one instead of the other. In this way the power structure has been altered. I love these things, because they reflect real life: people change when their life changes. When they are successful, they get married, or when they feel like failures. All of this alters their behavior and the world around them“.
The Gilded Age 2, the review: make way for the nouveau riche
The Gilded Age: will there be a third season?
When asked if there will be a third season of The Gilded Age Julian Fellowes responds crypticly: “In this field there are no certainties: if you want security you have to be an accountant. We always live in the balance. I would be very pleased with a third season, also because, given that it takes a long time to write a series, you inevitably already start doing so. However, without the certainty that your work will see the light and that they will pay you. I’m sure there won’t be a third if the second season doesn’t go well. But I believe in The Gilded Age 2, I think we did a good job. I think people will like it. I live in a mix of optimism and realism“.
The Gilded Age: will there be a movie?
Given that Downton Abbeyafter six television seasons, also had two films, Downton Abbey (2019) e Downton Abbey II – A new era (2022), it is reasonable to imagine that too The Gilded Age may have the same fate. On this question though, that is, if there will be a movie of The Gilded Agelo showrunner is even more enigmatic: “Films based on TV series arrive towards the end of the journey: they are final acts. Some are successes, others a disaster. There is no certainty that if a series did well the film will too“.
Julian Fellowes’ relationship with the past
Julian Fellowes is clearly fascinated by the past. But how was this passion born? His full name is Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford. So the noble origins certainly contributed. But, as he told us, it was above all thanks to an aunt who developed this curiosity: “I was pretty lucky: I became passionate about the past as a child. I went through the kitchens and stables and imagined the lives of the people who had lived there before me. I used to ask my Aunt Ada, born in 1880, to tell me stories about her when she was young. She had married long before the Great War. In 1898 you met Queen Victoria. She died when I was 21. She was an extraordinary link with the past: thanks to her I read many history books“.
The Gilded Age, the review: in New York at the end of the nineteenth century there is an air of change
The teaching of the past is fundamental for the author: “I am convinced that the past can teach us a lot. Those who don’t know him are destined to repeat the same mistakes. Studying the past is very important to understand politicians’ decisions“.
How Lady Violet was born
It’s impossible not to ask him if, every time he writes, he wonders what he would say Lady Violetthe legendary character of Downton Abbey interpreted by Maggie Smith. In responding Fellowes gave us the gift of saying how the character of Lady Violet was born: “Violet is based on the women I’ve known in my life. I grew up post-war, in 1949, in a bombed-out London. In many families the men had gone to fight at the front and the management of everything remained in the hands of the women. My grandmothers had to take care of everything for several years. They were tough women: with themselves and with others. For me Violet is an example of this: of that spirit that keeps things going. They were full of discipline. The beautiful thing about writing Violet is that when I talk to people who watch the show, they always tell me it’s reminiscent of Aunt Maude. We have created a universal figure: people of different nationalities and different social backgrounds recognize that character. Everyone has an elderly woman in their life who has supported the family even in very difficult times. I love this thing, I love that I created a real archetype thanks to Violet. Obviously we were immensely lucky to have an actress like Maggie Smith play her“.