Cynthia Nixon On How Characters In ‘The Gilded Age’ Pave The Way For The Women In ‘Sex And The City’

Cynthia Nixon will be playing another New York City singleton in the upcoming HBO series The Gilded Age, a period drama from Julian Fellowes that’s been dubbed, the American Downton Abbey.

‘Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis. - Credit: Everett
‘Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis. - Credit: Everett


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What will become clear from the premiere episode on Jan. 24 is that Nixon’s character Ada Brook paved the way in her sensible shoes in 1882 so the ladies of Sex and the Cityincluding her Miranda Hobbes— could strut in Manolos through those same streets over a century later.

“I think that Ada could not even imagine a world in which someone like Miranda Hobbes would exist,” Nixon shared with Deadline. “Ada is the youngest child in the family and she’s been taken care of almost like an object. I think the thing that is true of Ada is she’s very tender and she’s very, very fearful. She didn’t have anybody to instill her with dreams for herself. And so, her dreams are very small. But what we say at the beginning of the show is that even if she can’t dream for herself, she can dream for her young niece.”

Cynthia Nixon & Christine Baranski in ‘The Gilded Age.’ - Credit: HBO
Cynthia Nixon & Christine Baranski in ‘The Gilded Age.’ - Credit: HBO


The lives of Ada and her sister Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) are turned upside down with the arrival of their niece Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson), who left Pennsylvania after the death of her father left her penniless.

Agnes is old school and very set in her ways. She expects Marian to fall in line with tradition as Ada has but the opposite turns out to be true. Marian is respectfully rebellious and challenges her aunt in ways Ada wouldn’t have dared before.

“[Ada and Agnes’] lives are totally predictable, comfortable yet a little dead—certainly from Ada’s point of view,” Nixon said. “She never married and she doesn’t have any children of her own. Her life is very staid and unpredictable. And the idea that her brother, who Ada was much more attached to than Agnes was, left this young woman behind [after his death] who now needs us and we are in a position to transform her life. Ada in particular identifies with [Marian] as a young woman on the precipice. Ada wants more than anything in the world to be a guardian angel to her in a way that she feels maybe people weren’t with her, which is why her life never really fully blossomed.”

While Ada may not have yet found true love, Marian helps her realize she’s far from an old maid. She begins to dream out loud and within earshot of Agnes, who is not too happy when a potential suitor from the past has come to call once again.

If you feel Ada sounds a lot like SATC‘s Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), Nixon would agree.

“Yeah, I think Miranda would recognize her ancestor in Agnes I think a lot more than Ada. I think perhaps Ada would recognize her descendant in Charlotte really, or that [who Charlotte is] would be the dream Ada has for herself.”

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