The Ladies of Sex and the City


If you’ve already read our interview with Sarah Jessica Parker, you’re ready to move onto some questions we had for her three long-time co-stars from the show, all of whom are returning for Sex and the City. Cynthia Nixon is back as Miranda, the former lawyer who gave it up to raise her son with her husband Steve (David Eigenberg), while Kim Cattrall returns as the older Samantha, still man and sex crazy after four years living in California and managing her actor boyfriend Smith (Jason Lewis). Of course, Kristin Davis is adorable as ever as the tightly-wound Charlotte, who has been raising her own adoptive daughter with her devoted Jewish husband Harry (Evan Handler). had a chance to talk to all three of them during the New York junket for the film, and in the interest of honesty, we admittedly combined three separate interviews into what you’re about to read. Did you ever think this movie would happen, especially after it was announced then scuttled a few years ago?
Cynthia Nixon: No, I thought it would never happen. I guess we kind of thought it would happen the first time even though that’s kind of a big leap to make, a TV series to a film. That doesn’t happen very often. But when it didn’t come together the first time? Yeah, even when they called and said, “We are going to try and do this.” I was like, “Okay, good luck to you. Sure, I’ll be there, just lemme know.” (laughter) But I didn’t have a lot of hope for it. It’s very hard, particularly when we’ve all gone our separate ways and have all these other things to get us back together. I mean, Carrie’s apartment was dismantled and destroyed.

CS: Why was the time right now to make this movie rather than four years ago?
Kim Cattrall: You know, I look back on four years ago with a lot more clarity than when I was living four years ago [chuckle] in the sense of hindsight is 20/20. I look at what was going on in ’04… I mean the show coming to an end, which was really devastating because it was the best job that a woman in her forties could ever want. To still be playing this outrageous character, to still be considered beautiful and sexy and powerful and smart and funny – all those great things. At the same time, I was going through a divorce which was really, really hard. It wasn’t a divorce that was a private divorce because suddenly I was on a TV show, and it wasn’t between lawyers and family members; it was on the New York Post. We as a couple had decided not to share it and then suddenly it was all over the world and on blogs. That was really, really tough, and being single after so many years was tough – especially with the persona of Samantha. I wasn’t ready for anything like that, and then my dad was diagnosed with dementia. I look back on ’04 as one of the worst years of my life, so I kind of think that I needed a time out. In that time out I think there grew a tremendous amount in the fanbase of “Sex and the City.” It wasn’t just a half-hour show on HBO. It was all over the world and it was on TBS. I just sort of felt when they called me about a year and a half ago and they said, “We’re thinking about doing this” and it really felt like full circle. It really felt in some ways like the movie in the sense that it felt like a fairy tale that we were going to get a chance to rewrite the history of not being able to, and I’m so glad that we did. I really am.

CS: Why do you think people said that there were feuds and that everyone was bickering?
Cattrall: Well, you know, it sells newspapers. It really does. In some ways, as annoying as it is and as hurtful as it can be, I think it adds to the mystique in one way. You know, I think it’s too bad, but that’s the way of the world. I think that women when they get together are powerful. A lot of people are scared of that.

CS: How do you each feel about having a character arc within 2 and a half hours rather than having one over the course of a season?
Kristin Davis: 2 and a half!?!? Don’t say that. It’s 2 hours and 15 minutes! (laughter) I never really think about it that way. For me, as an actor, when we were doing the show, it wasn’t like a regular show where you shoot one episode at a time and you had to think about that story. There were long stories and we were often shooting simultaneously. You didn’t think this episode versus that episode. It was one overall thing. Michael (Patrick King) would come to us before the season and say, “This is the big picture,” and he did that before the movie. So it didn’t feel that different as an actor. For Michael it was different because it was a movie and had to have a beginning, middle and end. Because we were with HBO, we could go to a more dramatic place in one episode and then another episode that was funnier. That’s partly why we could make a movie and not make it be so different, because with HBO it felt like that’s what you were doing.
Nixon: I really felt that was hard. I feel like doing the show was like being a newspaper reporter and every day you write a story and then it hits the press and then the next day you write another story. Then maybe you weren’t totally happy with something, but you get another chance tomorrow. There was an over-arc, yes, but the episodes were distinct. Whereas in this, it felt like the pressure was much bigger when you were constructing your arc. If this piece was off over here, this part was gonna fall in a certain way, so I did feel a lot more pressure having this one long story to tell as opposed to a lot of vignette stories. I think that was always one of the things they did so beautifully on the series and amazingly did in a 26-slot allotted to them. Carrie was right out in front, but the three of us would also have quite full storylines each week.
Cattrall: It was really great, because I felt that in the series, we did a film in 30 minutes, so it was like a film in 2 1⁄2 hours? And we have so many months to do it? The series was exhausting. It took us seven days to do one show. We shot two shows at the same time, and invariably, there would be a couple scenes that had to be missed because we were getting onto the next schedule, so at one time, we had these T-shirts made that said “6 Units” and we had 6 units of 6 different shows shooting at the same time. We would always do this sound when we’d see the sun come up, which is (imitates rooster crowing). (laughter) We didn’t see a lot of our real families. We saw a lot of our “Sex and the City” family.

CS: Can you each talk about working with your male counterparts and how your relationship has evolved over the years?
Nixon: I just feel really safe with (David) and he’s a really funny, very warm guy and very protective of me. A lot of people have asked me about our sex scene at the end. “You’re completely naked!” I’m like, ‘”I am? Am I? I didn’t think I was.” (Laughs.) Y’know? But I have to say, that one of the things that perhaps eluded me at the time, was that David was right there and he was covering me up. And I felt like, “We’re here, we’re together, we have a safe place, we’re gonna be fine.”
Cattrall: I think (Jason’s) a terrific guy. I think he came to acting later in life, and I think he really loves it, but you know, I had so many men over the course of six years, and I love what Michael wrote, especially for the cancer storyline, because you saw this young man, as young as he was and inexperienced he was about life, he knew enough to be there for the woman he loved. Also, her take on it, which was “I don’t need anybody. I’m doing really well all by myself and I certainly don’t need a younger man. I mean, what does that speak to me if I can’t get my own age.” And then you start to think, “Well, who is Samantha and why is she processing that?” I think the great thing about these characters even for the actors who played them, it really rubs off in your own life, in your personal life.
Davis: There was some stuff cut out of the movie, so I feel bad about that for (Evan). I knew a lot of versions of this script that didn’t end up in because that would have been a really long epic. But that would have been great. What we shot, a couple of the things got cut time-wise. You just feel bad for the guys in our world. They’re troupers about it.

CS: Do you think that in real life you’d ever date Harry?
Davis: This is not the first time I’ve been asked that this week. Gosh. It’s hard because you can go do the research, so I can’t really fib, can I? I could try. I don’t know. It depends on what qualities you mean about him. I certainly have dated people who look the way that my friends would expect the people I’d date to look. How’s that? If that’s what you’re getting at. People talk about Harry and say he’s such a mensch, which is obviously a huge compliment, and I think I’d date a menchy-type guy, if that’s what you’re asking. I don’t know how to answer that. I haven’t dated Evan, if that’s what you’re asking.

CS: How much improvisation did Michael Patrick King let you do in the movie?
Cattrall: Michael has always been persnickety about his dialogue, but I get to really do a lot of physical comedy in the show and in the movie. He just writes it very clean and he just allows me to fill it. So when I’m doing the sushi scene all that stuff is just kind of happening naturally. I got hungry and I went, “Oh, gosh.” [making motion to put food in her mouth]. I’m sitting there for hours. All these things… and then the dog and then the phone goes off and I was like, “This is bullsh*t!” All of those things were not written, they just kind of evolved through the doing of it. That’s the great thing making this show. It feels like a rehearsal sometimes. Anything can end up in the movie or on the cutting room floor, but you feel like you’ve explored all of it.

CS: Kristin, did it seem to you like Charlotte was funnier in this movie than she was on the show?
Davis: It’s weird, isn’t it? It’s so strange. It’s funny and I didn’t realize it until I saw it. Because you read the script and know but until you see the thing on the big screen, I was like, “Oh my God, I’m the comic relief!” I’m shocked. I was really, really surprised.

CS: When you’re with the girls are you the funny one and who is the funniest on set?
Davis: No, no, I don’t think so, but it depends on the day. It depends on if Michael’s in the room. If Michael’s in the room, Michael’s the funniest. Hands down. Obviously he’s not a girl. I don’t mean to imply that he is but he’s around a lot. I feel sometimes Sarah, because how she would describe people or situations. It’s always witty and funny. She’s hit the nail on the head. Cynthia can be very funny in a very dry way. She’s very wacky. I’m funny like that I’ll trip or fall down or something like that. I’m famous on our set for falling down. For real, not as a joke. Kim’s funny more like when she messes up her lines. Her rhythms are funny. She’ll crack us up more on the set. Like in a scene. She has some bold things to say, as well. It’s tough to pick one.

CS: What about Mario Cantone?
Davis: Mario’s so funny. He’s in all these group scenes now. He used to be just with me. I was the sole beneficiary of Liza at 3 a.m. or whatever. Judy at 5 a.m. Michael would come up to him and say, “Calm down Mario. Focus.” Because there was a group, an audience, he can’t help himself. So I’d say to him, remember the old days when it was just you and me. Tone it down a little because you’re taking over all the space in the room. It was fun because it keeps you laughing and the energy up, which is great.

CS: What is it about these characters that we can’t get enough of?
Nixon: I think they are really different from what’s out there. I think that people call them “us” types and I think you can just look at them as yourself and you can say, “Oh, I’m that one or I’m that one or I’m half this one or last Tuesday I was that one.” But I think they are really classy…and you can also think of them as like Carrie is the whole self and the others are like the brain and the heart and the libido. I mean there are a lot of ways to think about them.

CS: Kristin, how are you like or not like Charlotte?
Davis: I was going to say if there was a large, white bouquet in this room, Charlotte would approve. I like white flowers. Charlotte has a really huge flower budget. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but whenever you see Charlotte’s apartment, there’s a lot of flowers. That’s probably not the answer you wanted. Oh gosh, it’s hard, in the beginning of the show, people would ask me that and I could tell you very specifically. Ten years later, it’s a little more challenging. I’m hopeful, certainly, but maybe not quite as hopeful as she is. I’m a loyal friend definitely. I was really happy about that part of the movie script. I was very pleased by that. I’ve never had that situation in real life but I’d like to think I would respond that way. I’ve never needed to defend my friend in that way but I would if I had to yes, yes, I would.

But absolutely the dogs. I’ve been a dog-lover for a long, long time and Darren and I both had golden retrievers when we started the show. I don’t know if you remember, it was the first or second season, when Charlotte got her dog, but she only lasted one episode because the dog messed her bedroom up. Do you remember this? She was like, that’s not OK. So the dog had to go. But that was our first foray into Charlotte and the dogs. That was really fun and I had the best time. And then, I had my golden around a lot while we were shooting the show, and Michael Patrick and everyone knew my dog, so when Charlotte got her dog it seemed an organic thing that came from me. I don’t know. You’d have to ask him why. It was also he wanted her to have a baby. You often see women who carry their dog like a baby. Remember when I used carry her over my shoulder? That was on purpose. It was an outcropping of me and Charlotte wanted a baby. I have two dogs now. I don’t have my golden anymore. She’s with us in spirit. I love my dogs. I carry them around; they’re a little big, but I try. I’m hopeful like her but I’m not marriage-obsessed. I would like to have a baby but I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that. I definitely think about it. And playing her made me think about it more. When you start to think about it everyday at work and it’s part of your major storyline, it does make it more present in your head. Plus, my girlfriends were busy having theirs. That helped push me along a little bit but I’m still trying to figure that out.

CS: With that in mind, how did you like having a canine sidekick, Kim, and is it true that she only humped in the morning?
Cattrall: It’s true. [Chuckling] Right on cue… one-take wonder that girl! My God. Three months to prepare for those close-ups and her close-ups were always before mine. [Chuckles].

CS: Cynthia, do people think that you’re a bitter as Miranda?
Nixon: Yes, definitely, particularly at the beginning of the show I used to have people come up to me. I remember one man came up to me one time and he put his hand on my arm and said, “Are you really that angry?” (laughs) Yeah, I dunno. I am totally charmed by Miranda and even her anger. I feel like if you don’t get that’s fine, maybe you had a Miranda in your life that really drove you crazy.

CS: What did you think of Miranda when you were first offered the part?
Nixon: I just thought it was like a really rich opportunity. Miranda might have a lower glamour quotient than the other girls, but she’s always very based in reality and I think has storylines that people could relate to. And I just thought the place where we could grow up to in the beginning of the film is such a common experience for working mothers who are just trying to succeed in all of these different aspects of their life and they feel like they are spread so think they are failing in all of them.

CS: How hard was it keeping some of the secrets of the movie?
Cattrall: It’s been a pain in the ass, I tell you. (chuckles) Before the script was sent, we had to sign a contract to say that we wouldn’t share it. Then you get the script and your name is emblazoned over the front – “Kim Cattrall is going to tell people…” You just feel that even if a page of it goes missing, it’s like being a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and if anybody says, “Can I borrow that DVD?” “No, you can’t! Because I’m going to get kicked out and I can’t have that.” So it’s the same kind of feeling of keeping everything under wraps.

CS: What did you think of all the false rumors?
Nixon: I heard the one about someone dying. Are there other ones, too?

CS: That’s the main one. Chris North said he told a lot of the journalists that during shooting to confuse them.
Nixon: He did, really? Well, you know when we were filming, we shot tiny little things that really didn’t happen and I think it’s great. I think actually we should be starting more of those rumors.

CS: Was there a number of false endings as well?
Nixon: I don’t remember. We did in the series. In the series, we shot multiple endings, but none of us really knew how it was going to end. If she was going to go with Alexi or Big or decide to stay alone.

CS: Can each of you talk about how the show has struck a chord with women and how they’re able to relate to the characters?
Cattrall: Well, I feel that it’s sort of a zeitgeist, and it was a long time coming. I remember seeing Spike Lee’s film “Jungle Fever” and there was a scene in there where all the women were getting together and there was an element of concern in the family unit and the women were taking control. I had never seen a film portray women in that way, and it was also in the Oprah Winfrey film “Beloved” where all the women start to sing and the whole community starts to come together. I think that Hollywood especially has been very famous for women being pitted against each other, and here was a reality and a family that had not really been talked about or observed in such an honest way. I think that it was long overdue, and it was really portraying friends as family, and I think that those four characters together make up one complete woman, the different sides to a woman, whether it’s the sexuality or the contemplation or the fear or the aggression. I mean, together this is a whole woman, and I think that’s why everybody can relate. I get asked a lot, “Well, which character are you really like in real life?” Well, I’m like ALL of the characters. I’ve been in periods of my life, I’ve wanted the white picket fence, I wanted to be married and have a husband. I’ve also been really pissed off at how things didn’t work out exactly how I wanted, and I’ve also had very contemplative times, and also very sexual times, too. (laughs) I think that’s the brilliance of what Michael continues to write. He knows these characters so well. He knows the actresses that he’s writing for.
Nixon: I just feel there are a lot of shows that hit it big and the reason they hit it big is that they are describing something in the culture we kind of haven’t caught up to yet. Like “The Cosby Show” and middle-class black life. We didn’t see it and all of a sudden it’s overdue. I feel like when the show first came on the air, there was a big segment on the street and in the press of people who were really turned-off, and there was this whole thing that these weren’t really women, they were gay men in disguise. Women don’t have this much sex. They don’t talk about the sex as much. They are not as interested in sex. I think they were just shocked at empowered, single women out there. Then people did adjust themselves and I think one of the main things the show tried to do and I think did pretty well was get over this virgin/whore split, y’know? Because you’re nice doesn’t mean you’re a virgin and because you’re having a lot of sex doesn’t mean you’re a whore.

CS: What do you think of the pasteurized reruns that have been run on regular TV and basic cable? Do you think they still successfully convey the essence of the show?
Nixon: I do think they convey a lot of the essence. I’ve only seen a few of them, but my main complaint with them is not that the foul language is removed or some of the more explicit sexual situations are censored, it’s just that the commercials are so plentiful on those stations that most of the cutting that happens, hasn’t been cleaned up, it’s just been for time. There are four girls and four storylines and in these syndicated ones, there are usually three storylines and like, oh Charlotte says like, “Hi” and we never see her again for the rest of the episode. She’s like the “up the butt girl” that time or whatever. (Laughs.) I don’t think they are as good as the originals, but I think they completely convey the series.

CS: With the show being about single women, do you think the character arc is done at a certain point?
Nixon: I don’t really. I feel like it started as a story about four single women; now we are not four single women anymore. A lot of us are married, and it stopped being about being single. It started being about these four women and the choices they make and whether the options that are open to them and what paths do they choose to take. Just because you get married or reconcile or you get to some plateau of peace or happiness or achievement, it doesn’t mean you don’t wake up the next day and something else doesn’t happen.

Sex and the City opens nationwide on Friday, May 30. You can read our interview with Sarah Jessica Parker here.