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''Sex and the City'' Q&A: Kim Cattrall

The woman behind Samantha Jones addresses reports that she held up the movie version, explains the key to understanding her bawdy character, and more

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Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City

Kim Cattrall’s bawdy Samantha Jones — the woman who definitely put the most sex in Sex and the City — returns in the highly anticipated big-screen update on May 30. We caught up with Cattrall to talk about why she can’t bear to watch the syndicated episodes, what popular storyline she was initially skeptical about, and how she coped with those ”devastating” rumors that she was to blame for a 2004 movie attempt falling apart.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did it feel to go back to Samantha?
KIM CATTRALL:
Really, really exciting. The first day of shooting was beyond anything that I had ever witnessed. A girlfriend came to visit me on the set and she nudged me and said, ”You guys are the Beatles!” On both sides of the street, in the middle partition of Park Avenue where we were filming, it was standing room only. All the plants were being crushed, people were yelling our names, our characters’ names, Pat Field’s name… It was like they were in on something that they thought had passed and that they would only dream about or watch on DVD, and now they were part of it as well. It was really exciting. Getting back into shape with those high heels — that was the only not-fun part about it. At night, the goddamn balls of my feet were throbbing.

What, you don’t always walk around in 5-inch heels?
Does anybody? [Laughs] I certainly don’t. There might be somebody somewhere, but boy, are they gonna have back problems.

When the movie came back around, what was your reaction? Had you been missing Samantha, and thinking about it?
Well, you know, I had been missing New York, because in the four years that we were not doing the series, I was spending a lot of time at home with my family. My dad was diagnosed with dementia, which was really tough. And I felt that because of the schedule and the way my life had started to become, being a part of the series and playing the character, I didn’t have a lot of downtime, and I got sort of separated from my family. My marriage was also… I was going through a divorce, which was really tough. So I look back four years ago and it felt so much different. I didn’t have a lot of perspective on it [then], but when I got that phone call, I thought, I can’t believe this! It was kind of exciting to think that I would be back in New York, to think that the four of us would be strapped into the Manolo Blahniks and we were going to be playing those characters again.

NEXT PAGE: Was it Cattrall who held up the first attempt at a Sex and the City movie? ”I don’t think it was just me. None of us had deals. I don’t even think that the studio really believed in it.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There was so much speculation on the first attempt at a movie, in 2004, falling apart. Why didn’t you want to do it the first time around?
KIM CATTRALL: Well, first of all, I don’t think it was just me. None of us had deals. I don’t even think that the studio really believed in it. Now, that seems hard to believe, because the show has grown as far as viewing numbers. But I don’t know if [those numbers were] enough of a phenomenon for Warner Bros. to really, really take it seriously. For me, [considering] what was going on in my life, I really needed to take a break. And people made it about different things, whether it was agents or lawyers or whatever. I just felt with the challenges that I had with my family and with my relationship, I just needed to go home.

Home to Canada?
Yeah, yeah. I started a production company, and then I went back to my other home, which is Britain, where my mom and dad [are from]. I was born there. It was really a feeling of having a different pace in my life and enjoying that. The amount of time it took to get back here was, for me, needed. It was almost like a healing period. Things happen when they’re supposed to happen. I think there was only one way to come back, and that was on the level that we left. [Writer-director] Michael Patrick King feels that we’ve achieved that, and I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t want to belabor it, but when the movie fell apart the first time around, all of the finger-pointing turned your way. How did that feel?
Well, it’s devastating, because it was not true. What am I gonna say? I tried to give the story and my side of it. My separation from my husband, and then my divorce, was all over the headlines here in New York and in the gossip columns. That was just really hurtful. People in my family I hadn’t even told, and because I wasn’t here or there with my husband, people starting putting things together. I kind of really needed to get away. It’s unfortunate, but again, I feel that the best thing that has happened is the growing and maturing of not just the film but of the actors and the director. I think that the timing was ultimately right. It happened when it should have happened, and I’m just glad that it did. Because to have such an amazing experience and then for it to end up in a way that was totally unfair left a little bit of a sadness with me. But I feel that has been rectified by Michael and Sarah [Jessica Parker] speaking up and saying, you know, none of us had deals, none of us were ready, it seemed like a great idea at the time but maybe it was before its time, maybe it needed a saturation time, maybe it needed the Devil Wears Prada to bring people back to Sex and the City.

Have you found the show is even more popular now, since it’s been in syndication and on DVD?
Absolutely. If we’d done it four years ago, it’d be like, Oh God, them again? [Laughs] People always ask me, ”What do you think about these new shows that sound disturbingly like our show?” And I can’t really see them because I don’t think I could be anywhere near objective, but I also think, Mmm, it just wouldn’t be the same.

NEXT: ”I went into the looping room, the dubbing room, and instead of the f-word, you’d say friggin’…. And I just remember fighting with it when we had to do the dubbing, because it just didn’t have the same rhythm. It just wasn’t as real.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Speaking of the syndication…have you seen any of the cleaned-up episodes?
KIM CATTRALL: You know, I can’t bear to. I see glimpses. I think because… I went into the looping room, the dubbing room, and instead of the f-word, you’d say friggin’. To me, the way Michael and Darren [Star] and Jenny Bix and Cindy Chupack wrote was very musical, especially for my character. And I just remember fighting with it when we had to do the dubbing, because it just didn’t have the same rhythm. It just wasn’t as real. And I did it and I understand the benefits of it being on regular TV — it’s reached a huge audience. The only downside to it is, it’s not the real thing.

What can you say about Samantha, now?
Well, I think from the preview and from the teaser, you can see that she’s not living full-time in New York anymore. But she visits a lot. She looks like she’s blooming, but what’s really going on? That’s the thing that I love about Samantha — it’s always, What’s really going on? Because it all looks fabulous, it all looks wonderful, but the challenge in playing her is all that underneath stuff: the vulnerability and the fear and the insecure person that she really is, but compensating and dealing in such a proficient way that no one would ever guess. That’s the most I can tell you without crossing the line. Last night we were at dinner — a friend had seen it and he came in and was talking a little bit about this, and one of the people at the table got up and left! He said, ”That is it! You cannot be contained, and you are going to ruin this for me!” He got up and left and went to the bar, and came back and sat at the other end of the table, and said, ”Is he done?” It’s the greatest compliment: ”This is a unique experience, this is Zen for me, I will not have it ruined by you or anybody else!”

So Samantha returns to New York to celebrate her 50th birthday?
Yes. We call it fabulous and 50. Or 50 and fabulous.

In the past Samantha has been teasingly…
Ageless? [Laughs] Yes. She never lies about her age, but she never really says it either. Which, I think, is kind of fantastic.

What’s your favorite Samantha moment, or the thing you’re most proud of in Sex and the City?
Oh gosh… There was so much. You know, I get a lot of fan mail about the cancer episode. I was nervous that, playing such an outrageous character, it might appear she doesn’t have a lot going on in the sense of depth, and I also felt that they might use it as a punishment for someone who has lived so large and done so much and been so daring. The women, always in literature, if she goes that far out, she has to fall. And I felt, Oh, is this payback for all of the excess. And the way Michael wrote it was the antithesis of that. He wrote a woman going through a horrific episode in her life, dealing with it in uniquely her own way. When women come up to me and say ”You got me through chemo,” it’s the greatest compliment I could ever receive. It means so much to me that people went through something as horrific as cancer and then they could laugh at the same time. I thank Michael for that.

Are the high expectations for this movie daunting?
Totally daunting, yes. The bar is so high. And I thought we left on such a high note. And when I read the script, I thought, Wow, this is in the ballpark and then some. You feel like you’re surrounded by that great dialogue and those conflicts and circumstances that [King] put us in and continues to put us in. And you just hope that you get to do it again. That’s how I am like Samantha — I just want to do it again. Insatiable!

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