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''Sex and the City'''s Chris Noth struggles with commitment

EW Online finds that the actor, like the elusive Mr. Big, is keeping his options open

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Chris Noth, Sarah Jessica Parker
Craig Blankenhorn

Even though Chris Noth won’t appear in Sunday night’s debut episode of ”Sex and the City” (HBO, 9 p.m.), he won’t be far away. Fans of the raunchy girl-talk comedy series starring Sarah Jessica Parker will still get an earful about Noth’s Mr. Big, the wealthy, commitment shy ex lover of Parker’s sex columnist heroine, Carrie. ”I’m not even in the first show, but they talk about me,” Noth tells EW Online. ”It’s a seamless performance on my part.”

But Noth won’t be absent for long. When ”Sex” left off last fall, Carrie and Mr. Big had iced their off-again, on-again romance, and Big had gotten hastily engaged to another woman. But watch out, he says, ”Something’s brewing [with Carrie]. They’ve got some unfinished business. These are two people who drive each other crazy but have to be around each other. And even when they aren’t together, they’re still feeling the vibe.”

Although ”Sex” hasn’t been as critically lauded as HBO’s ”The Sopranos,” Noth believes the series has found an appealing mix of romantic fantasy and sexual satire. ”To me, the show’s greatest asset is its sense of charmed ridiculousness of human beings, of men and women as they try to work things out. What’s tragic on screen to the characters is hilariously funny to watch.”

Laugh (or wince), HBO’s relaxed sex-and-swearword standards have permitted the series to explore everything from fetishes to farting in bed. Yet despite the bare-everything talk, Noth’s character has yet to spill his secrets: Viewers don’t know Big’s real name, or how he amassed his riches. ”You could say he’s a millionaire magazine publisher, or a Donald Trump, but you don’t need to know,” says Noth. ”He’s not some suave guy who poses and has cute one-liners, and he’s not a totally obnoxious, unlikable guy like a lot of rich people are. I think [Carrie] named him Mr. Big because he’s the big love of her life.”

At the behest of show creator Darren Star (”Melrose Place”), Noth won’t reveal more of the coming developments. And even though the erotic tension between Big and Carrie could easily fuel several more years of ”Sex,” the 42 year old actor won’t reveal if he’ll be back for next year’s fourth season. ”I’ll have to see where it goes,” he says. ”I love the people — the writers are great, and I adore Sarah, so I’m for it. But I’m also for only doing it if it works and it’s not forced, like trying to take a good thing and kill it.”

Noth, who’s using a break from ”Sex”’s New York City set to shoot a small role in a thriller called ”Glass House,” says he’s drawn one important love lesson of his own from the show. ”Those you love the most,” says the single actor, ”are the ones who can’t get it together.” Amen.