(Baranski said of her character, "She's a great snob, but who would not want to play a snob written by Julian Fellowes?")
The set was built on sound scenes on Long Island, including for the countless rooms in the Russell Palace, decorated with contemporary fabrics and patterns made by some of the same European companies that produced the originals in the 19th century. A backyard built at the nearby Museum of American Armor in Old Bethpage, NY, housed the impressive edifices and sumptuous interiors that together recreated a stretch of Manhattan's East Side from the 19th century. (The show also uses locations in Troy, NY and Newport, RI)
Bob Shaw, the show's production designer, said that compared to previous HBO series he had worked on, including "The Sopranos" and "Boardwalk Empire," "This is the biggest build I've ever made."
"We kept drawing and making illustrations, and they kept saying yes," Shaw added. "You draw a magnificent staircase and you wait for someone to say, 'Well, how many times do they have to go up the stairs?' And it never happened. "
Participating members read favorite novels by Edith Wharton and Henry James in preparation for filming, and they were given lessons on Gilded Age history, etiquette, diction, and social customs.
“Calling-card culture was an intricate, delicate dance,” Jacobson said. "If you went to the opera and met a lady of the community with whom you would like to maintain your position, you would hand over your business card at her home. Like, hey, I want to hang out with you - I want you to like me. "