Cynthia Nixon is opening up about her two very different TV series, And Just Like, the continuation of Sex and the City nearing the end of its 10-episode run on HBO Max, and creator Julian Fellowes’ latest, star-studded costume drama, The Gilded Age, which debuts Monday, Jan. 24 on HBO.
On the former, Nixon reprises her role as Miranda Hobbes opposite Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw and Kristin Davis as Charlotte York Goldenblatt as the series picks back up with the trio as they continue to navigate love and life in the city. And Just Like That also welcomed back several of the franchise’s original stars, including Willie Garson as Stanford Blatch and Chris Noth as Mr. Big, among others.
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But it’s Noth’s return that has garnered the most controversy for the reboot, which decided to remove additional footage of his character from the upcoming finale after a group of women came forward accusing the 67-year-old actor of sexual assault.
When asked about that decision while promoting The Gilded Age, Nixon tells ET’s Rachel Smith, “I think we were very lucky that those changes were able to be made and I think we are very proud of our show.”
While Noth has denied all accusations, a source told ET in January that the changes to the finale was a collective decision agreed upon by the cast, writers and producers. “Thankfully, it wasn't a major overhaul since Chris was killed off early and was to reappear later in the series finale,” the source, referring to the shocking premiere, which saw Carrie’s longtime love interest dying of a heart attack.
Additionally, Garson’s sudden death after a private battle with pancreatic cancer in September forced the series to rework his role, with Stanford leaving Carrie and New York City behind for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on tour with an artist he represents.
“We just wanted, you know, people to not be distracted or already feel, certainly with the death of Willie Garson, [which is] such a painful thing and already [something] viewers had to contend with. We didn’t want them to be distracted from the fictional characters,” Nixon continues.
While the series has faced unexpected casting challenges and has premiered to mixed (yet increasingly positive) reviews, there’s still hope among many that Carrie and the gang will return for another season of And Just Like That. But according to Nixon, it is not up to her.
“Even though I’m an executive producer and I got to direct an episode, I am not a writer. And so, that is one of the great privileges of being a writer, that it’s not my job to figure it out, thank god,” Nixon says. “You know, it’s my job to say that doesn’t seem right for my character. But in terms of the amazing writers, we have [been] dreaming things up. They know much better than I do.”
In the meantime, audiences will get to see the 55-year-old actress play a very different character on The Gilded Age. The costume drama, which is set in the 1880s as America was going through immense economic change, Nixon plays Ada Brook, one of two affluent aunts alongside Christine Baranski’s Agnes van Rhijn. In the series from the creator of Downton Abbey, the sisters' high society lifestyle is rattled when their young niece, Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), comes to live with them in New York City and finds herself in the middle of an ongoing social war between old money and new money in the mold of their new, rich neighbors.
And it is a far cry from the first time the two worked together on stage in the 1984 Broadway play The Real Thing. “When Christine played my mother all those years ago – I was a kid and she was an adult – it never occurred to me that she was actually way too young to play my mother. Now, we’re in an appropriate familial relationship,” Nixon says of getting to reunite with Baranski, now as sisters.
Like Downton Abbey, one of the things that makes The Gilded Age so fun to watch are the opulent costumes. But it’s also what made things a challenge for the actors. “The corsets were very challenging,” Nixon admits, explaining that “these people are all about formality and ceremony and being precise in their speech and their dress and their intentions. I think it was a real challenge to try and get all that stuff right.”
Not only that, but she says that it all had to feel right for the character. “[It has to] sit on you naturally. You know, to speak more properly but to not sound like you are an actor. [You had to] sound like the person who had been raised with proper etiquette and proper diction and knew that every time that you would open your mouth or sat down at the dinner table, you spoke volumes to everyone around you. About how you had been raised and what your class was.”
And, of course, class and status is just one of the many things at stake in the series.
The Gilded Age premieres Monday, Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.
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