The new HBO series “The Gilded Age” hails from "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes, and much like that hit period series, this one features a lot of characters. Several cadres of characters keep the plot pivoting back and forth between households and prominent locations around 1890s New York, as the show tells a story of New York City on the cusp of change, where the battle between old money and new money -- as well as old and new ways of doing things -- is being fought.
A mix of veteran actors and actresses balance out some newer talent in Julian Fellowes’ latest fictional show — from “Sex and the City’s” Cynthia Nixon to Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter Louisa Jacobson, who plays a main heroine at the heart of aristocratic New York City.
“American Horror Story’s” Taissa Farmiga plays a supporting role with room for growth: Gladys Russell, who has yet to make her social debut. Clara Barton (Linda Edmond), founder of the American Red Cross, even makes an appearance.
Below we round up the complete main cast of characters, to help you keep straight who's who as the HBO drama series gets underway.
Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson)
The series opens on Marian, whose father recently died, leaving her very little money. Marian leaves her home in Doylestown, PA to live with her father's two sisters Ada and Agnes. Marian slowly comes out of her shell as she gets more comfortable living with her aunts. She toes the line between old social norms and rebelling to form new ones.
Peggy Scott (Denée Benton)
Peggy, an ambitious young writer, meets Marian at the train station where they are both heading to New York. The two strike up a companionship when Peggy pays for Marian to ride in the colored car after her bag with her money and train ticket were stolen. Haunted by her past and well-meaning but harsh parents, she ends up staying with Marian and her aunts, working as Aunt Agnes' secretary in Manhattan instead of returning to her parents’ home in nearby Brooklyn. Peggy’s growth as a journalist shines an interesting light on media practices during The Gilded Age.
Aunt Agnes Van Rhijn (Christine Baranski)
Agnes, the sterner of the two sisters, rules her roost, left behind by her late husband. She firmly believes in the old ways of doing things because she comes from old money. She has a son, Oscar, and has kindly extended her home to her unwed sister Ada, and now their niece Marian. Agnes employs Peggy because "she likes people who help themselves."
Aunt Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon)
Ada balances out Agnes's strict demeanor with her open, sweet and calmer personality. Ada never married, so she depends on Agnes' charity, but she has wisdom of her own, and is generally able to get more information out of Marian because she is gentler and more understanding.
George Russell (Morgan Spector)
Railroad tycoon George Russell will do anything for his wife Bertha. He has the authority, power and most of all new money to back any initiative he undertakes, and when those that have "made it into society" shun his wife multiple times, he leaps into action and plays the stock market to get everyone's attention. His love for his wife trumps any and everything.
Immediately upon her arrival to New York, Bertha does everything she can to make some new friends and "climb the ladder into society" as they say. On top of this, she frequently limits her daughter Gladys from any dating prospects, though everyone else questions why. Bertha and George Russell make quite the power couple in more ways than one.
Gladys Russell (Taissa Farmiga)
Gladys is the youngest child of George and Bertha, and she eagerly awaits her turn to "go out into society," much like Daphne's 'Bachelorette'-like debut to the ton in "Bridgerton."
Larry Russell (Harry Richardson)
Larry is the only son of George and Bertha. He fights for the rights of his younger sister, and he connects certain people looking to secure social standing and/or money just by introducing them to each other. Opposite Gladys, he seems to play pawn for his mother when she sends him into social situations willingly.
Dorothy Scott (Audra McDonald)
Peggy's mother wants her to return home and live amongst her parents, but Peggy's father Arthur proves a tough force to reckon with. He and his wife worked hard in order for Peggy to have her freedom and an education, but Peggy fears that sharing a roof with them once more will limit that freedom. Her father would rather her take over his pharmacy than "make very little money" writing for the local Black newspaper, The New York Globe.
Oscar Van Rhijn (Blake Ritson)
Oscar is the son of Agnes and often stops by his mother's house to visit her, humoring her disdain for many different aspects of society. He takes a liking to Gladys Russell early on in the show, but her parents question his intentions. Oscar harbors a secret.
Mrs. Astor (Donna Murphy)
Mrs. Astor is close to the top of the social pyramid, and everyone knows it. She appears at certain social events, especially for charity, and she even employs a henchman of sorts Ward McAllister (Nathan Lane) to root through potential socialites so she doesn't waste her time dealing with all of them. Her graces grant immediate social standing to anyone she bestows them upon, so everyone constantly clamors for her attention.
Sylvia Chamberlain (Jeanne Tripplehorn)
Mrs. Chamberlain has quite the reputation behind her. She, like Agnes, is a recent widow, and though she comes from a lot of money, her money is deemed tainted by a duo of women who were granted favor by Mrs. Astor — Aurora Fane (Kelli O'Hara) and Anne Morris (Katie Finneran), who are the same pair that snub Bertha Russell at first.
Van Rhijn/Brooks Servants
Pictured here, are most of those who work for Agnes Van Rhijn, Ada Brook and Marian Brook. Peggy Scott boards among them, which creates an interesting comparison in race and class.
From left to right in this photo sit the kitchen maid/housemaid/lady's maid Bridget (Taylor Richardson), Agnes' maid Armstrong (Debra Monk), the butler Bannister (Simon Jones), the cook Mrs. Bauer (Kristine Nielsen) and the footman Jack Treacher (Ben Ahlers). Together these five complete a lot of the household tasks for Agnes and Ada, and, in their free time, they gather for meals and gossip about what happens upstairs.