Christine Baranski’s best known roles are very different from her upbringing.
The star of “The Gilded Age” and “The Good Fight” is on the new cover of Town & Country, and in the issue she opens up about playing well-to-do women.
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“It’s funny because I’m from this blue-collar neighbourhood in Buffalo,” Baranski says. “I don’t know how it happened but I always wanted to play queens or ladies rather than victims. I was never good at playing victims. I was always better at playing the character of the woman who was more in command of her life.”
Baranski also looks back on her early days in New York in the 1970s, when she attended Juilliard to learn acting.
“It was so exciting to be at Juilliard at that time,” she says, recalling how cheap tickets to shows were. “It was before Wall Street appropriated New York and turned it into a city where you couldn’t afford to live. I didn’t have any money and somehow I saw great things and had a wonderful time.”
To get herself prepared to play a wealthy matriarch in “The Gilded Age”, Baranski did plenty of research, including into her own family connections to that era in New York history.
“I was, of course, immersing myself in research on the Gilded Age. And I realized more deeply how connected my late husband’s family had been,” she says.
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According to the actress, her late husband Matthew Cowles’ family at the time were bankers, philanthropists and more, with plenty of exciting life stories.
“If you want to look any of these people up, you will be drawn into a rabbit hole of interest,” she tells me, matter of fact,” Baranski adds.
As for the importance of storytelling, the actress says, “It’s helping keep us awake and keeping us human. The news is so difficult to process, isn’t it? And it comes to us off of our phones or our screen and we’re bombarded with it. I think it’s really hard to deeply comprehend what’s going on, just how frightening it is. But I do think great actors and great writing provide people with a way of staying in touch with their humanity. It sounds very simplistic, but I think that’s what performers do.”