After Dynasty first premiered in 1981, it stayed on the air for eight seasons. But the influence of the series—which follows the oil tycoon Blake Carrington and his spoiled, sometimes shameless brood—has lasted much longer.
Dynasty has been revived in a smart, slick reboot that premiered October 11 on the CW. And while the show has been carefully updated for a contemporary audience—thanks to creators Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, and Sallie Patrick, who’ve worked on shows like Gossip Girl and Revenge—it hasn’t lost any of the charm or over-the-top glamour that made it a
Elizabeth Gillies stars in the series as Fallon Carrington, a young executive at her family’s energy company, who finds herself in competition with her billionaire father’s fiancée Cristal (Nathalie Kelley), who also happens to work with her—awkward. Sure, she’s having an affair with her driver, and it wouldn’t be Dynasty if Fallon and Cristal didn’t battle it out now and again, but here Gillies explains how the series has been given a modern overhaul and why the story of the American drive for money and success never stops making for compelling drama.
Nathalie Kelley and Elizabeth Gillies in Dynasty.
This is a series some people have been waiting on for nearly 30 years. How did you get involved?
I had just gotten my appendix out—a very romantic start to the story—and I was in the hospital and I got an email that they were rebooting Dynasty and that they wanted to see me for Fallon. At first, I was disappointed because I wanted to play Alexis, as we all do, but then I read the role and saw that they had revamped it, made her a lot more vicious, a lot more like a character Joan Collins would play. So, I recovered, went to the audition room, and I think they cast everyone the next day; it happened very quickly. I did my homework, I watched a bunch of Dynasty before going in.
Elizabeth Gillies and Sam Adegoke in Dynasty.
One of the great things about the series is that it doesn’t shy away from some of the theatrics of the original Dynasty, but it’s very much a contemporary story.
If you go back and watch the original Dynasty now, like I did, you’ll be stunned by just how much the times have changed. They were able to say things on television back then that would never fly now. Today, they’ve modernized so much of Dynasty; our cast is super diverse, which is a beautiful thing. Cristal is Latina, and Steven, who was somewhat closeted and conflicted in his sexuality in the original, is now an out and proud gay man and he’s having a relationship with Sammy Joe, who we switched from Heather Locklear to a Venezuelan guy named Rafael de la Fuente. We really made a lot of changes, and I think it’s very relevant now with everything going on in our political climate—we’re talking about oil, we’re talking about energy, we’re tackling a lot of issues, and we didn’t follow the old structure as closely as some might’ve expected.
What does carry on? Why is it important that this show is Dynasty and not just a new series with new characters?
People hear the word Dynasty and they immediately think of the cat fights, they think of the shoes, the fashion, and the dysfunctional family. That’s what we can all relate to, even if we can’t relate to the excess, is a family connection. The way we modernized it, Cristal and Fallon are contemporary 2017 women, and they are not fighting just to fight, they’re fighting over companies. They’re two businesswomen, they want to be CEOs. For that reason alone, I think it was important to bring it back today and revamp it.
The idea of excess is so different now than what it was in the 1980s. Did you have to go bigger to portray today’s concept of the ultra-rich?
We’ve had a closer look at really rich people in recent years, especially on TV. The difference with our show is it’s not reality TV, it’s done in an elegant, almost old-fashioned way. You can call it campy or slightly over the top, but it’s done in such a fashionable, aesthetically pleasing way that I think it’s a bit more fun than watching something unstructured. It’s a lot of fun to do, and I hope to watch.
Elizabeth Gillies in Dynasty.
On reality TV, you’re often seeing people with the best of everything at their worst moments, though. That’s not what’s happening here.
None of us are laying around in a $10-million house eating chips and watching TV. We’re always doing something a little bit over the top.
What’s been your favorite part of playing Fallon?
It’s really everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I figured I wouldn’t get a chance to break down or cry until maybe halfway through the season, and it happened in episode two. So she’s crying, she’s laughing, she’s being vulnerable, she has a wild love triangle going on—I have so much to do as an actor that I’m never bored. And I get to do it wearing designer clothes.
The costumes are one area where the opulence of the original series can be seen. This show is not afraid of going for extreme looks.
My favorite moments so far with Fallon are when the situation doesn’t call for something extreme, but because it’s Dynasty, it’s fair game. For example, I had one scene where she was just coming out to eat breakfast, and all she does in the scene is eat. I think she’s drinking coffee and she’s on her iPad. But she’s wearing a head wrap, a kimono with fur, and
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.