[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Gilded Age Season 2 Episode 4, “Duke It Out.”]
Carrie Coon‘s Bertha Russell is preventing two battles in The Gilded Age Season 2: her public opera conflict with Mrs. Astor (Donna Murphy) and her private battle with Enid Turner/Mrs. Winterton (Kelley Curran). Episode 4 proved she’s at present successful each.
After a well-known playwright got here to city in Episode 3 (Oscar Wilde, performed by Jordan Waller), the Manhattan elite had been visited by the English Duke of Buckingham (Ben Lamb) in Episode 4, and the Russells and the Wintertons had been each competing for the prize of his consideration. The Wintertons knew the Duke from their time throughout the pond, however Bertha wouldn’t give her former woman’s maid — and would-be seductress of her husband, George (Morgan Spector) — the satisfaction of the general public notoriety that might include sitting subsequent to him at dinner. She switched their identify playing cards, which was sufficient to make Turner seethe throughout the room. However Bertha took their rivalry additional by convincing the Duke to remain on the Russell’s mansion in Newport as a substitute of the Winterton’s.
Bertha is all the time plotting, so her poaching the Duke is essential to multiple of her plans. However she’s greater than able to killing two birds with one stone. Bertha informed the Duke she would inform the Wintertons of his change of plans herself, however the episode ended with Turner studying the information within the morning paper. That, paired with the Wintertons being thrown out of the Academy of Music by Mrs. Astor earlier within the episode, brought on a scrumptious Turner hissy match that solely The Gilded Age may cross off as thrilling drama.
The episode ends with Turner operating up the marble stairs of her grandiose mansion shrieking to Mr. Winterton (Dakin Matthews), “I don’t need different dukes, I need this duke! We discovered him, and he’s mine! However that witch has stolen him from me.” It’s the type of melodrama actors stay to play.
Curran tells TV Insider that is “tremendously first-world issues, however I feel that what’s so scrumptious about [Julian Fellowes‘ writing] is for the viewers, it’s like a consolation watch. I feel it permits the stakes to be low, however for the characters, the stakes are monumental.”
“And that’s additionally in some methods actually what Edith Wharton did as effectively,” Curran continues, “these private stakes in her novels for the individuals who felt like, I’m both on this world or I’m destitute. That’s how stark this society was. There was a burgeoning center class, nevertheless it wasn’t fairly established but, so far as I perceive. And so in the event you fell, you fell exhausting. And so for these individuals, the stakes are actually survival, however they manifest in such a superficial type of approach.”
Curran discovered of this season’s Turner twist when she was given the script for the episode the place she makes her return (Season 2 Episode 2). Whereas filming Season 1, she knew Turner “aspired to society ranges, and a part of her resentment stemmed from not having the ability to obtain that and arrive in that world,” however she had no concept her character would achieve her quest to marry up.
“You actually may have knocked me over with a feather once I noticed, once I bought all the way in which to the tip” of that script. She says studying these ultimate traces of the episode “was simply gorgeous” and “actually, actually thrilling,” principally as a result of it’s such a enjoyable twist to have the ability to play, but additionally as a result of it meant she lastly bought to put on one in all costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone’s gorgeous dresses for the rich girls and never simply her black woman’s maid uniform from Season 1.
Fellowes previously told TV Insider that Turner marrying up was all the time a part of the plan. They wanted to search out an actress who may play downstairs employees and a high-society girl, they usually discovered that in Curran. She had no concept that’s what they had been searching for when she auditioned, however she put herself on the market simply in case.
“I bear in mind pondering, ‘If I don’t get forged as this half, I’d love them to think about me for different components,’” she shares. “So I bear in mind I picked out a very totally different gown. I wore this gown with all this decolletage, and I assumed, ‘Let me simply see if this helps.’ And perhaps with out realizing that that was the trajectory, perhaps that was simply instinctively one thing I used to be selecting up on.” And maybe it’s what helped her land the “juicy” function.
Now that Bertha’s made this offensive transfer, Curran says “you’ll be able to anticipate a tough battle” to return. “I feel they’re each girls with numerous grit, they usually’re each going to dig in. So I feel you’ll be able to anticipate a pleasant, lengthy battle royale,” she says, including that nobody writes this sort of low-stake melodrama like Fellowes, of whom she’s a longtime fan.
“I feel the primary work of his I noticed was Gosford Park, after which I watched all of Downton Abbey, and I simply love his rhythm,” she says. “I really like his landscapes of characters. I really like the way in which he performs the lengthy sport and trusts a narrative and trusts his viewers. I simply assume it’s such a privilege to work on one in all his exhibits.”
One among her favourite components of the character is her emotions for the Russells. She has a twisted respect for Bertha and her social success, however Turner additionally resents that she didn’t achieve splitting up the Russells. Turner has romantic emotions for George, Curran explains, in any other case there would have been no acquire in being his mistress. “It might be exhausting to stay beneath the identical roof as George Russell and never really develop emotions for him,” she says. “For me, that was an actual motivator in Season 1.” Turner does have it good along with her (a lot older) husband, although. He doesn’t know the total extent of his new spouse’s previous, however that didn’t cease him from defending her when Mrs. Astor kicked them out of the Academy.
“I really like that scene as a result of we get to see him with out Turner,” Curran says. “And so we get to see one thing of his inside, his non-public emotions, and the way he defends her in entrance of probably the most highly effective girl in society. I really like that scene. I feel it speaks volumes in a really quick period of time.”
Mr. Winterton doesn’t appear to care what occurred in her previous, “and I feel it’s what Turner wants,” she continues. “She’s such an armored individual, and he or she’s so preemptively prepared for battle and prepared for a battle and prepared for a battle. And I feel to have somebody who loves her regardless of that, who loves her and takes every part and says, ‘OK, no matter your previous is, you’re in my life now and that is what we’re doing,’ I imply, that is perhaps the tonic.”
This marriage that started as a method to an finish may find yourself as a love match. As Curran explains: “I do assume she is a lonely individual, and he or she was a lonely individual in Season 1, and I feel in Season 2, whether or not she’s capable of settle for it or not, I feel she’s being cared for the primary time in a really very long time, and that’s highly effective.”
Bertha’s newly restored relationship with George makes her social rise doable. What may occur when Turner has the winds of affection in her sails?
The Gilded Age, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO