Julian Fellowes discusses Downton Abbey with Alan Titchmarsh
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The new historical drama has finally premiered on HBO and Sky Atlantic and introduced viewers to a dazzling depiction of 18th Century New York City. However, pulling the curtain back on the seedier side of America's Gilded Age sometimes proved uncomfortable for one of the show's lead actresses, Christine Baranski.
TV and film star Christine has admitted she had trouble fitting into The Gilded Age's period-accurate costumes.
The Mamma Mia icon portrays the conservative Agnes van Rhijn, an old-money socialite who desperately clings to her fortune and the traditional values of New York's elite families.
However, her world is shaken upon the arrival of her penniless niece Marian Brook (played by Louisa Jacobson) when she's sent to live with Agnes and her sister Ada (Cynthia Nixon).
While the series has been acclaimed so far for its smart and disparaging look at high society, main cast member Christine didn't always enjoy dressing up in Agnes' fashionable garb.
The Gilded Age: Christine Baranski admits 'uncomfortable' part of Julian Fellowes series (Image: HBO)
The Gilded Age is the latest drama from Downton creator Julian Fellowes (Image: HBO)
Having been a sitcom staple for much of her career, as well as receiving plenty of awards recognition for her role as Diane Lockheart, The Good Fight star hasn't had many opportunities to try her hand at period drama.
"One of the things about The Gilded Age that excited me most was that I would get to use training I haven’t used in so long because I’ve played contemporary characters," she explained.
Unfortunately, travelling back to New York in the 1880s proved much more challenging than she may have expected.
Christine told Town & Country: "[The corsets] are just as uncomfortable as I remember."
The Gilded Age: Christine Baranski portrays wealthy socialite Agnes van Rhijn (Image: HBO)
The Gilded Age pulls the curtain back on one of the most lucrative periods of American history (Image: HBO)
Much of the show's female cast have had to cram themselves into the unforgiving fashion style befitting women at the time.
Alongside Christine, the series stars Fargo breakout Carrie Coon, Hamilton's Denée Benton, and appearances from Broadway legend Nathan Lane.
The first episode of the new series, Never the New, has already showcased some of Agnes and Ada's elaborate dresses and petticoats.
Despite the tricky task of fitting into Agnes' excruciating outfits, Christine was eager to work with Downton creator Julian and didn't take much convincing to sign on.
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She continued: "Just say the words, Julian Fellowes, he’s doing a TV show for HBO. I mean, 'Okay. Sign me up.'"
Julian himself even informed Christine she was his first choice to portray Agnes in the series.
"He actually said to me, 'You were born to play this role'," she recalled.
The showrunner had originally seen the actress playing his real-life acquaintance Andrea Reynolds in Reversal of Fortune, which dramatised the Claus von Bulow affair.
He revealed: "That was my first time seeing someone I’d known very well being portrayed in a film.
"And I thought Christine made such a good job of it. That had an impact on me, that an ordinary performance might not have."
Time will tell if The Gilded Age proves as popular as Julian's preceding series, though early reactions suggest HBO already has another historical hit on its hands.
The Gilded Age airs Mondays on HBO in the USA and the following Tuesday on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK.
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