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The Gilded Age: Why isn't Tom Raikes actor Thomas Cocquerel in season 2?

Julian Fellowes' hit period drama returns to our screens this month

Thomas Cocquerel and Louisa Jacobson in The Gilded Age© Alison Cohen Rosa
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
October 29, 2023
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We're counting down the hours until Julian Fellowes' hit period drama, The Gilded Age, returns to our screens with its highly anticipated second season

While we can't wait to catch up with Bertha Russell, Marian Brook and the rest of the Fifth Avenue residents on Manhattan's Upper East Side, there is one character who will be notably absent. 

Back in April last year, it was reported that series regular Thomas Cocquerel would not be reprising his role as Tom Raikes in season two. But why did the actor bow out of the show? Here's all we know…

WATCH: Will you be watching The Gilded Age season two?

Why isn't Thomas Cocquerel in The Gilded Age season 2? 

Thomas Cocquerel's exit from the show was announced by Deadline last year. 

While the show didn't explicitly reveal why the actor wasn't cast in the second season, it's likely that he was written out on purpose after his character left leading lady Marian Brook heartbroken. 

Thomas Cocquerel and Louisa Jacobson in The Gilded Age© Alison Cohen Rosa
Thomas Cocquerel and Louisa Jacobson in season one

At the end of season one, Marian (Louisa Jacobson) discovered a devastating truth about Tom Raikes, with whom she was planning on eloping. 

It turned out that Marian's aunt Agnes van Rhijns (Christine Baranski) was right about Tom all along and that the lawyer had jilted her on their wedding day in pursuit of a new romance with Cissie Bingham (Katherine Romans).

Considering Marian and Tom's romance drew to a dramatic conclusion in the season one finale, Thomas' absence from season two isn't exactly surprising. 

Thomas Cocquerel in The Gilded Age© Alison Cohen Rosa
Thomas Cocquerel as Tom Raikes

Speaking about Tom's decision to ghost Marian on their wedding day, creator and writer Julian Fellowes' revealed that his social ambition got the better of him. 

"When you are a handsome young man with a decent tailcoat, and you get into society, you are shown a whole way of life that you couldn't afford," he told EW.

"I don't know if it's true now. But it was true when I was young that you could do the season if you had a decent dinner jacket. You could spend every weekend at houses you couldn't afford in a million years, and you got used to this extraordinary way of life. He has that and he's tempted, but he's still true to Marian. 

Thomas Cocquerel and Louisa Jacobson in season one of The Gilded Age© Alison Cohen Rosa
Tom jilted Marian in the season one finale

"Then the girl Sissy comes along, and he suddenly realizes that actually, he has a choice. If he wants this way of life, he can have it. That is very hard for him. I'm not entirely without sympathy. In the end he's morally weak, and he's not prepared to ride it out. But it's tough, the decision he has to make, and I can think of plenty of people who would be similarly weak in the face of it."

READ: The Gilded Age boss reveals heartbreaking difference between Downton Abbey and new show

MORE: The Gilded Age star Louisa Jacobson is the daughter of this A-list actress - can you guess who?

What happens in The Gilded Age season 2? 

While season one followed Marian's introduction to New York's high society in the late 1800s, the new episode will continue to explore the lives of other characters living in the Big Apple in the Gilded Age as well.

The official synopsis reads: "The American Gilded Age was a period of immense economic change, of great conflict between the old ways and brand new systems, and of huge fortunes made and lost. Season two of The Gilded Age begins on Easter morning 1883, with the news that Bertha Russell's bid for a box at the Academy of Music has been rejected

Carrie Coon, Morgan Spector, Louisa Jacobson, Denée Benton, Cynthia Nixon, and Christine Baranski in The Gilded Age season 2 © HBO
Carrie Coon, Morgan Spector, Louisa Jacobson, Denée Benton, Cynthia Nixon, and Christine Baranski reprise their roles in season two

"Through the eight episodes of the season, we watch as Bertha challenges Mrs. Astor and the old system and works to not only gain a foothold in Society but to potentially take a leading role in it. George Russell takes on his own battle with a growing union at his steel plant in Pittsburgh. In the Brook House, Marian continues her journey to find her way in the world secretly teaching at a girls' school while much to everyone’s surprise Ada begins a new courtship. Of course, Agnes approves of none of it. 

"In Brooklyn, the Scott family begins to heal from a shocking discovery, and Peggy taps into her activist spirit through her work with T. Thomas Fortune at the NY Globe."

Carrie Coon as Bertha in The Gilded Age© Heyday Productions
Carrie Coon as Bertha Russell in season two

The Gilded Age season 2 release date

Season two arrives in the US on HBO and MAX on Sunday 29 October at 9 PM ET/PT. 

In the UK, fans will be able to watch the new season on Monday 30 October on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW.

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