'Dickinson' Cast on Historical Easter Eggs and New Characters in Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Even though Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) is at the center of creator Alena Smith’s Apple TV+ comedy, Dickinson, she’s surrounded by several pivotal characters who also see their world expand and are challenged in season 2. Jane Krakowski (Emily Norcross Dickinson), Adrian Enscoe (Austin Dickinson), Anna Baryshnikov (Lavinia Dickinson) and Ella Hunt (Sue Gilbert) opened up to ET’s Katie Krause about historical Easter eggs, new characters and how the new season is “sexier and more sophisticated” than the first.
While season 1 was more of a coming-of-age tale, the new episodes jump ahead roughly a year and a half with Emily, her siblings and friends now in their 20s. “You really do see all the characters moving further into adulthood,” Enscoe says, adding that despite being slightly older, “we’re still finding ourselves.”
Because of that, the season “really is about the dysfunctionality and complexity of all the relationships across-the-board,” Hunt says. It’s not just Emily and Sue (more on that here), the actress says, “It’s with Mr. and Mrs. Dickinson, Lavinia and her new love interest [Pico Alexander as Henry “Ship” Shipley], and Austin and Sue. And so, I think it’s just a breeding ground for darker, sexier, more challenging material.”
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For Mrs. Dickinson, that’s finding satisfaction in a way she’s never sought out before. “She’s trying to rekindle her romance and physical relationship with her husband,” Krakowski says of Emily’s mother whose kids are now striking out on their own, leaving her unfulfilled at home. “Mrs. Dickinson is also horny all of a sudden in season 2.”
Krakowski adds that Dickinson has “a younger, hipper, sort of sexier edge this year. And I think that’s due to all the young hot actors that have come on to the show.” Among those new actors are Alexander, as an Amherst College dropout who boards with the Dickinson family, and Finn Jones as the “young, ambitious” newspaper editor Samuel Bowles, who dangles fame in front of Emily.
“Finn is just such an extraordinary addition to the cast,” Hunt teases, adding that Samuel becomes “a huge motivation for Sue and for Emily because he has the power of being like our generation’s equivalent king of social media. Not only is he Emily’s avenue to get published, he’s also Sue’s avenue for public notoriety.”
The actress adds that Jones is “really sexy and just brilliant in the show.”
As for Alexander, Enscoe was excited to have some “real boyish, funny energy” for Austin to play off of. “That completely threw me, which was exactly right for the character,” he says.
As Lavinia’s love interest, Henry goes on her journey of sexual awakening, which is in part sparked by her infatuation with Lola Montez, a dancer who became famous as a courtesan and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. “[She] was really pushing limits on how women could feel sexy and dangerous and powerful,” Baryshnikov explains. “And Lavinia desperately wants to feel that way.”
Like many things that happen this season, including appearances by other real-life literary figures, the rise of day spas in the 1820s and the arrival of the daily newspaper, Lavinia’s appreciation for Lola is “one of those incredible historical Easter eggs of the show,” the actress adds. “I love how all of the saucy things that have happened this season are deeply rooted in reality.”
Also adding a dose of reality is increased diversity in storytelling as well as the impending arrival of the Civil War, which will have serious repercussions on the family and friends. So in addition to being a little bit older, they’re not only dealing with “something as serious as being a widow or owning a house,” Smith says. They’re also “experiencing the onset of the Civil War. So with that, I think the relationships get a lot deeper. And in certain ways, more dangerous.”