back to the future

downton abbey gets an american spin-off—here’s who we think it should star.

by rebecca willa davis

It's not just season three of Downton Abbey (back this January!) that we're now waiting for: Yesterday it was announced that NBC signed a deal with Downton Abbey's creator Julian Fellowes on a show called The Gilded Age. They're describing it as "an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made--and spent--in late nineteenth-century New York." In other words: We're already addicted and we haven't even seen it yet. While it's not exactly an American-style spin-off of the original, we can't help but imagine the show featuring a very Downton-esque lineup of characters. In our version, the three Crawley sisters are now the so-called American princes vying for money and power. The role of Matthew Crawley would be played by a woman (in our Gilded Age storyline, she's new money but doesn't act it). And of course, there would need to be some sultry starlet to get one of the brothers all riled up, a la Turkish diplomat Mr. Pamuk. So if we had final word on The Gilded Age, here's how we would cast it. We're pretty sure we nailed it, but let us know what you think in the comments--or in the world of Downton, let out your inner Countess of Grantham.

The Family Patriarch (a la Robert, Earl of Grantham): John Goodman. He's jolly but imposing--and is there any actor more American than him?

The Doting Wife (a la Cora, Countess of Grantham): Michelle Pfeiffer. She plays sweet, but also totally knows how to protect her family--and cover-up a sex scandal.

The Eldest Child (a la Lady Mary Crawley): Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Too hot for his own good…sounds about right.

The Middle Child (a la Lady Edith Crawley): Michael Cera. The Jan to Taylor-Johnson's Marcia--and likable enough that we won't get totally annoyed by his whining.

The Youngest Child (a la Lady Sybil Crawley): Ezra Miller. The ultimate family rebel. We can already see him organizing a labor protest.

The Grandma (a la Violet, Countess of Grantham): Kathy Bates. She's big, she's brass, and she could definitely hold her own against Maggie Smith.

The Love Interest with the Power (a la Matthew Crawley): Kate Mara. She's friendly, approachable, and loyal…and also really, really pretty. In our imaginary Gilded Age storyline, her family has suddenly inherited some big oil refinery and are shunned as too new money--except for the families trying to set up their children with her.

The Butler (a la Carson): Will Ferrell and Jason Schwartzman. This is America, so everything is a little bit bigger--and we couldn't decide which of these two would be funnier so we're going with both.

The Scheming Antagonists (a la Thomas and O'Brien): Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan. We love this real-life duo so much that we don't mind hating them for a few seasons.

The Sex Bomb (a la Kemal Pamuk): Paz de la Huerta. Sultry? Steamy? Sexy? Check, check, and check. Paz could definitely get the brothers into some serious trouble.