‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ Creators Say Sofia’s Arrival Brings Whole New ‘Level of Purpose’ to the Count

Episodes 4 and 5 of “A Gentleman in Moscow” mark a turning point for Ewan McGregor’s Count Alexander Rostov as he gets to put his paternal nature to the true test.

In the Paramount+ and Showtime series, adapted from Amor Towles’ best-selling novel, the count becomes confined to the Metropol Hotel after the Russian Revolution due to his class and title. The penalty for his leaving the hotel is death, so he makes the most of his situation by befriending those who frequent the building.

One friendship he makes in the beginning with Nina Kulikova (first portrayed by Alexa Goodall and later, Leah Balmforth) changes the course of his life. A grown-up Nina leaves her daughter Sofia (portrayed by twins Billie and Beau Gadsdon) in the care of the count when she decides to follow her husband, who gets arrested and sentenced to five years of corrective behavior in Sevvostlag, a camp in Russia.

“So much of the story is about the count rediscovering a sense of purpose, but it comes in shifts. Initially, the purpose is to get along and survive life in the hotel. But then as the waiter, it’s sort of to have a job and have comrades and colleagues in the kitchen that are his friends,” author Towles told TheWrap. “And then with the arrival of Sofia, it’s a whole ‘nother level of purpose when he’s suddenly put in the position of being a parent. You’re ramping up, as you go, his involvement in what he’s facing.”

This surprise development takes place in 1938, Day 6,213 of the Count’s imprisonment, and the plotline follows that of the book. Showrunner Ben Vanstone sees it as the midpoint of the series.

“It’s such a pivot point in the series when that little child is dropped off in the hotel to be left with the Count. And the whole novel just shifts from that moment,” he said. “It felt to me that that’s our midpoint from the very beginning, it was the end of Episode 4 when she should arrive, and Episode 5 is the sort of growth of that relationship with Sofia.”

Forced to entertain the child, Alexander first tries to read to her, but then plays a hide-and-seek game with her instead, in which she quickly bests him. He also struggles to brush her hair at first, but he eventually figures that out, too. When he makes a spot for Sofia on the floor of his room, she winds up in his bed, leaving him to make the sacrifice to sleep on the floor instead.

“The interesting thing for me about that, as well, is when you become a parent, you’re no longer the most important person in your life, and that sort of fundamental shift in the Count’s perspective makes the ending inevitable, in a way, which is really satisfying,” Vanstone continued.

The arrival of Sofia parallels the relationship between her mother at a younger age (Goodall) and the Count. Towles described that point as a new beginning for the Count when he is “at one of his lowest points” in isolation after losing his family, possessions and familiar Russian homeland.

“That relationship is really where he begins his new life — the kindness and the curiosity and the enthusiasm of that young person is a window on how he could start to rethink his life; while under confinement,” the author added.

L-R Billie Gadsdon as Sofia and Ewan McGregor as Count Rostovin "A Gentleman in Moscow" episode 5 (Paramount+)
L-R Billie Gadsdon as Sofia and Ewan McGregor as Count Rostovin “A Gentleman in Moscow” episode 5 (Paramount+)

The Count even tells the same story to Sofia that he first did to Nina when she sought his companionship as a child.

“Amor’s created a really interesting take on the father-daughter relationship because it’s not just the count imparting knowledge to a daughter figure,” Vanstone said of their bond. “Nina has so much to teach the Count, and it’s almost as if it’s inverted how your usual expectations for that relationship would be, which I think makes it so fascinating and interesting, really makes you lean into the relationship.”

The first five episodes of “A Gentleman in Moscow” are now streaming on Paramount+. They air on the streamer Friday before arriving on Showtime the following Sunday.

The post ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ Creators Say Sofia’s Arrival Brings Whole New ‘Level of Purpose’ to the Count appeared first on TheWrap.