Kim Cattrall Breaks Free From Her Most Famous Role

Sex and the City‘s Samantha Jones might be what most people think of when they think of the word "cougar." The character was an accomplished and aggressive New York woman who made public her liberal and healthy view of casual sex. And there was her status as the oldest in her quartet of single friends. Of the four main characters on the show, Samantha is the most associated with the actress who played her, which is why Kim Cattrall has made an effort to play different types of women.

It hasn’t always been easy to shed Samantha’s sex appeal and transition into other roles. "I was in a show in London… I was dressed in a hospital gown, and I had on whiteface makeup, and when I first come on I’m in a bed, on a trolley, paralyzed," she tells New York. "And when I come downstage, someone whistled. Like a catcall."

But since Sex and the City ended in 2004, Cattrall has picked roles very different from Samantha (well, with the exception of playing Samantha two more times in the feature-length SATC films). She’s done Shakespeare and Polanski, and now Cattrall is trying her hand at Noël Coward. Starting this week, she’ll be starring in Private Lives on Broadway as Amanda, a woman who discovers that she’s honeymooning in the same hotel as her ex-husband (who, naturally, is also celebrating his new marriage). It’s another comedy, but an understated and tame one compared to her typical lighthearted fare. The show and its star have already received positive reviews during its out-of-town production in Toronto. 

"It was scary, really scary. Because to step outside of what you’re known for is frightening," she says of the attempt to avoid playing her familiar "brassy" characters. "People say, ‘I just want you to do that.’ But I would like to do this, too." Let’s hope this means less attempts to extend the SATC franchise and more evidence of Cattrall’s broad range on screen. 

Kim Cattrall Is Ambivalent About ‘Sex & the City 3’

This isn’t necessarily surprising, but Samantha Jones herself is unenthused by the prospect of a third Sex and the City film. At a press conference for her new movie, Meet Monica Velour, Kim Cattrall said, “I don’t know if it will happen. I really, really have no idea. I love playing Samantha Jones. I would love playing Samantha Jones again, but I don’t know if I will.”

She’s at odds with Sarah Jessica Parker, who wants a third movie despite the critical drubbing endured by the first two installments: “I think there’s one more story to tell. I know there is,” she said back in February.

Cattrall has something of a reputation for being difficult about the SATC movies (and being kind of difficult in general – remember when she told that Page Six reporter to get a “respectable” job?). At the conference, she explained her initial reluctance about the franchise, saying, “Originally I was asked to do the movie with no script, no start date, and a very paltry sum. I thought the three of us should fight for a piece of what we created and that was my reluctance.” Can’t fault her on that, really.

Cattrall’s new movie, which I had no idea was in existence until today, is about a washed-up porn star named Monica Velour, and Cattrall had to gain 20 pounds for the role. Entertainment Weekly‘s review reads, “The role of a former star of the ‘golden age’ of porn sounds perfect for Kim Cattrall, and she handles it nicely – at least, in the rare moments when this indie comedy isn’t terminally contrived.” Yikes.

Here’s the trailer for it. It’s not every day you get to see Samantha Jones as an aging stripper living in a trailer park!

Kim Cattrall on Aging, Airbrushing, & Ricky Gervais

On a gloomy Monday morning in New York City, Kim Cattrall sits in front of a vanity mirror as the members of her glam team—one for her face, one for her hair, one for her nails, and one for her clothes—poke, prod, gloss, comb, powder, tuck, paint, and pull her in every direction. Cattrall is unfazed. “I’m good at multitasking,” she admits. “You were saying?”

I’d been cut off mid-sentence by an interjecting powder brush while attempting to discuss parallels between the 54-year-old actor and Samantha Jones, the libidinous character she embodied for six seasons on HBO’s seminal series Sex and the City. It’s a routine question, and one she’s prepared to discuss before the words even escape my mouth. “People have a tendency to associate everything I do with Samantha, but that’s not me,” she says. “Samantha is a fictional character who lives in a pretend Oz in New York City.” And in truth, Cattrall doesn’t sound like Samantha, she doesn’t carry herself like Samantha, and she certainly doesn’t say things like, “I will wear whatever and blow whomever I want as long as I can breathe and kneel.” Still, after six seasons and two movies, the comparisons are inevitable.

Her frustration over their reductive urge to equate is obvious—“People want you to be the characters you play on TV because then they know how to deal with you,” she says—which might explain her enthusiasm for first-time director Keith Bearden’s darkly comic film, Meet Monica Velour, in which Cattrall plays Linda Romanoli, a washed-up porn star whose career peaked with films such as Welcome Back, Harder and Saturday Night Beaver, struggling to find a way out of her dead-end life. Her costar, newcomer Dustin Ingram, plays Tobe, a teenage outcast and Linda’s biggest fan. Driving an inherited hot-dog truck, Tobe sojourns from his home in Washington state to the Petting Zoo, a low-rent strip club in Indiana, to meet his idol. When he arrives at the club, Tobe finds Linda, known to her fans as Monica Velour, dancing in cheap lingerie and clear plastic heels to the song “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack. Cattrall, who gained 20 pounds for the role, flosses her crotch with a white elbow-length glove, her outdated dance moves stiff and maladroit despite their seductive intentions. The frat-boy hecklers in the front row make the scene difficult to watch: “Damn, someone ordered off the senior’s menu,” says one of them to his laughing friends. “I think someone’s got Depends on under there.”

Meet Monica Velour is fiction, of course, and yet it hugs the edge of reality. After all, it wasn’t long ago that Ricky Gervais, during his much-ballyhooed hosting gig at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this year, lobbed similarly snide remarks at Cattrall and her Sex and the City costars, suggesting that their faces were in need of “CGI special effects.” Remembering his gibes, she says, laughing, “He’s shooting arrows at women, and he’s how old? What an overfed, slimy individual.”

For over three decades, Cattrall has portrayed women in films like The Bonfire of the Vanities (skinny, beautiful woman), Mannequin (plastic, beautiful woman), and Police Academy (feisty, beautiful woman), but more recently, she’s been drawn to gutsier roles, from an aide to a disgraced British Prime Minister in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, to Cleopatra in a stage production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra last fall at the Liverpool Playhouse. Cattrall’s deepening hunger for more substantial parts seems to suggest she might have an answer to the mystery of growing older in the public eye. Instead, she has a question of her own: “Where does one go to age?” image

It’s the morning after the Academy Awards, and as she prepares for a decidedly unfussy photo shoot, Cattrall is amiable and relaxed, devoid of the diva behavior that supposedly swirled about the SATC set. It’s clear that Cattrall is friendly, yet when it comes to work, she likes to keep things simple. “It’s a job,” she says. “I don’t have to be close to the people I work with. Bankers don’t want to go home and balance their checkbooks.” Audiences, she explains, had invested so much into the friendships of those characters that “they expected it to be real life.”

Meeting expectations, as it turns out, is not Cattrall’s forte. “As a woman, you always symbolize something to someone,” she says. “People interview me and they’re looking at my face, not into my eyes. They’re looking around my eyes. I can see that they’re not listening to me.” At this moment, her gaze couldn’t be more direct. “For once, with Meet Monica Velour, I got to experience how wonderful it is to not have to look a certain way—I didn’t have to be sexy.” Most actors shy away from roles that focus on age and call attention to wrinkles and a flabby physique, but Cattrall was thrilled to let herself go. “I did this film because it scared me,” she says. “Growing up, I was a cute kid, then I was a pretty young girl, then a pretty woman, then a beautiful woman—what comes after that? A lot of actors my age won’t take a role if it comes with a 20-year-old son.” She considers, for a moment, naming names, but restrains herself. “It frightens me, too, but that’s the inevitable next step.”

Possibly due to continued public ribbing about the aging SATC stars, or that last year’s big-screen sequel was met with critical hostility (along with her three costars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon, Cattrall took home the award for worst actress at this year’s Razzies), there has been talk of replacing the four leads with a younger group of women, including Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively, in a rumored prequel. She calls the buzz “interesting,” and just to make sure we get her drift, she adds, “I don’t know who Blake Lively is.” After a considerable pause, she continues. “The original show did so much for its generation. I just hope, no matter what direction they decide to go with it, that we don’t slide backwards, that we don’t lose the work the show did.”

On the topic of having work done, we find ourselves discussing the Sex and the City 2 movie poster, and the barrage of ridicule it received for its post-production treatment. “Like they don’t airbrush men? Trees? The sky?” She brings up a surprising comment made on NPR’s weekly quiz show, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! “They were talking about chickens and somehow connected it to ‘those four old chickens from Sex and the City.’ What a sexist thing to say!” Her mild-mannered tone begins to deepen. “Would you say that about someone who was black? Would you say it about a man? Is it because women don’t stand up, because we don’t say anything?” Consciously or not, Cattrall just has.

“I used to think that when I finally reached this age, I would have to armor up, but I don’t feel that way anymore,” she says. Instead she has chosen to do battle by making smart films. “I consider 50 to be young. People are living so much longer, and besides, I don’t think I look 50. I take really great care of myself.” True to her word, at the end of Cattrall’s photo shoot, she was given the choice to either have her pictures slightly retouched or shellacked and shined like a Cadillac. Her response: “Fuck it. Leave it all in.”

Dress by Chanel. Bracelets by Kenneth Jay Lane.

Top picture: Jacket by Burberry London. Tank by Helmut Lang Pants by Fendi. Second picture: Earrings (worn on jacket lapel) by Kenneth Jay Lane. Jeweled bracelet (worn as a pocket Square) by Swarovski.

Photography by Kate Orne. Styling by Paolo Neddu. Hair by Ryan Trygstad @ The Milton Agency using L’Oreal Professionel. Makeup by Nick Barose @ Exclusive Artists using Laura Mercier manicurist Julie Kandelac @ artistsbytimothypriano .com. Photo assistant: Maria Karas. Fashion Assistants Gina Donnelly and Jahil Fisher. Tech :Kotaro Kawashima. Location Tribeca Skyline Studios, New York City.

Mia Wasikowska Covers BlackBook’s ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ Issue

Calling all Brontë purists! Aussie sensation and Jane Eyre star Mia Wasikowska, an actor of considerable depth and poise, covers BlackBook‘s April “Bright Lights, Big City” issue, dressed and styled in homage to fashion icon Twiggy. If we do say so ourselves…mamma Mia! (Don’t worry—you won’t find that pun in the actual issue.) Go here for more photos and the full story on one of this year’s biggest breakout stars. Also in our April issue:

Kim Cattrall, known best to audiences as Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, upends expectations with a darkly comic new indie about an aging porn star; French nightlife baron André Saraiva invites us—and his famous friends—over for a private party; four young stars with major pedigrees—Zoë Kravitz, Max Irons, Lorraine Nicholson, and Grace Gummer—step out of their parents’ shadows; cult filmmaker Werner Herzog enters the abyss to chronicle the birth of art as we know it; Super costars Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page talk about becoming “butt buddies”; New York painting luminary Ryan McGinness invites us inside his Soho studio; aspiring photographer and star of The Beaver Anton Yelchin provides us with the surprisingly dark playlist that makes him click; Japanese menswear designer Mihara Yasuhiro indulges his wild side; and Kathy Griffin considers foot fetishists. Plus, we check in with Yelle, Mario Testino, Hamish Bowles, Nick Zinner, Best Coast, Dan Deacon, Liana Liberato, and Quentin Dupieux! Keep coming back to BBook.com for more on an issue so bright that you might have to shield your eyes.

‘Sex & The City 2’ Trailer Arrives in Time To Bring Holiday Fear

There’s been a lot of speculation about the Sex & the City sequel: Will it involve saffron love, a Tony Kushner tribute or sex robots? But today marks a turning point! A trailer for the film has leaked and in it, Carrie Bradshaw blah-blahs about how it’s been two years and sometimes reality hits you like it’s Chris Brown and you wonder how all your girlfriends have managed not to contract cirrhosis from all those martinis. Then she goes on to muse about whether Jay-Z and Alicia Keys will ever forgive her for misappropriating “Empire State of Mind.” They won’t! Oh, city life. Ain’t it grand?

Then at some point, Kim Cattrall bounces out of a taxi wearing some fugly black mini-dress with unflattering breast-adjacent slits. This may make you wonder if perhaps it isn’t the Garbage Pail Kids trailer you’re watching instead. Alas, no. There’s also a moment when the uppity brunette one makes cupcakes while holding a baby. Suddenly it’s 0:50 into the trailer and that horrible orchestral version of the S&TC theme kicks in, making you want to tear your ears out and throw your eyeballs into a mug of hot lye. But please don’t! Next year also promises to bring some good films, too. The top contender for next year’s Razzies, as presented in just under a minute-and-a-half, below.

Kim Cattrall Tries to Kill ‘Sex & the City’ Sequel

You know what world, no. Just because “a spokesperson has told Gossip Cop” that there’s no truth to a rumor, that doesn’t invalidate it. Thank God, because there are whispers that Kim Cattrall fussin’ up things on the set of the Sex & the City sequel, Sex & the City 2: Back To Tha Hood. Who knows whether someone borrowed Cattrall’s nose without asking again or if her bunions stretched out SJP’s Manolos, thereby causing tensions. Whatever the case is, rifts! on the set of S&TC! There is hope for New York yet.

Ya see, while the ladies were out in Morocco, which is apparently the new Dubai, as the old Dubai is facing hard times, they had the gall to stay at separate hotels. Quite likely: Everyone told Cattrall that they were each staying at separate hotels, but SJP, Cynthia Nixon, and that other one all stayed in adjacent suites, far away from their more mature friend, as they all feared catching a devastating case of The Old. Ageists. Previously: Cattrall was double-double-toil-and-troubling feuds on the set of the first film as well. Above, she is pictured trying to suck the life force out of fellow S&TC 2:BTTH co-star Miley Cyrus. Oh, broads!

Who Fugged It Better: Miley Cyrus or Kim Cattrall?

In preparation for their pièce de résistance, their magnum opus, their heartbreaking work of staggering genius, their Citizen Kane — that is, Sex and the City 2 — seasoned screen sirens Kim Cattrall and Miley Cyrus decided to get caught wearing matching dresses and what appears to be large animal pelts on their feet. This sequel finds the pair facing off, hopefully, in a plot line torn straight from the pages of the classic 1997 John Travolta/Nicolas Cage thriller Face/Off. And apparently part of such plots includes channeling ravenous Valkyries hopelessly hunting game.

Which makes sense. As this cruel moment in time is torn from the pair’s red carpet-laden trip to Boyfriend of Samantha Jones’ big film premiere. Gamey, indeed. Cyrus plays herself in this film. Although in fairness, who in the film doesn’t? A casual glance at this snapshot could inspire us to ask, “Who fugged it better?” But this one’s truly a head-scratcher.

It also remains to be seen if Samantha’s cancer will make a cameo as it was largely on hiatus the last time an aspiring pop star decided to grace the Sex stage. But more importantly, were you aware that Penelope Cruz will be inhabiting Carrie Bradshaw’s make-believe NYC of print media princesses?

True Lies: What I Learned on the Set of ‘Sex and the City 2’

Yesterday, I fulfilled a goal of performing as an extra in a movie filmed in New York. The only way I was getting out of bed at 5am for a 6:30am call time was the idea that I was going to be a part of one of the most popular empires of my generation: the Sex and the City dynasty. Consequently, I was also ready to look like someone straight from the cast of Dynasty because I was scheduled to be ‘background’ in the 80s flashback scenes for the SATC sequel. When I arrived to the set at 6:30am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was met with a group of disgruntled extras who had been dealing with the busy set, and long hours for a few days. I hit up wardrobe for my colorful costume: a calf-length ruffled dress in a bright pattern, finished with huge gold bracelets and big square earrings, an Hermes clutch, and an authentic reproduction of an Yves Saint Laurent shopping bag (I was listed as a ‘Wealthy Shopper’).

My makeup was atrocious, but it all came together on set as a thing of kitschy 80s beauty. What do extras do? They sit around for a long time waiting for their scene to be filmed. They read magazines, they freeze on early morning sets, they walk repetitively in the background of scenes trying to think of a different way to make the walking look better each time, they hobble around in uncomfortable shoes — and if they’re like me, they listen like a fly on the wall. Here are some of the tidbits I learned about everyone’s favorite sequel, all pretty much hearsay, but interesting notions nonetheless.

● It was a rockstar experience. As we walked out of the “Extra Holding Pen” onto set, it was astounding to see thousands of fans crammed behind barricades down 5th Avenue at 9am. It was utter hysteria in some aspects … bystanders pulled my clothes as I walked onto set, begging for photos, asking us, merely extras dolled up in 80s gear, if we were famous. I must have taken 20 pictures with crazed fans. ● The Sex and the City crew really does try to respect the habitat; midway through filming a scene where a bookish Miranda struggles in a careless crowd in front of Bergdorf’s, a confused elderly shopper was escorted through the scene to the front doors. Unfortunately, it seems as though rude pedestrians are at fault for clogging up the walkways. I saw a number of people stopping to make rude comments to people on set, purposefully walking slowly to keep others making through makeshift walkways with ease. ● Most of the extras on set weren’t there for their love of SATC; they just want to get through the day and get their paycheck. Many of the extras were annoyed with the huge crowds. “These bitches must be doing something right,” a veteran extra said, “but the crowds make a long day even longer.” ● SPOILER: Someone on set told me the reason they filmed all around Bergdorf’s was because this is ground zero for where Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda all met. Whether or not this is true is questionable, I’m not sure if on-set gossip can be trusted. ● Even former Governor Spitzer likes SATC. As the crew shooed away gawkers and pedestrians, they were confused as to how to ask the scandalous politician to walk away. “Keep it movin’ Mr. Governor,” was how they went about it. ● Craft services: Chickpea salad, loaves of bread, granola bars, chicken wings, fruit, Asian trail mix, and a lot of candy. ● Steve Sands seems to have the run over the entire production. One of the assistants on set was telling me the reason why he so freely skulked around was because he has so much dirt on the cast and crew that it would be a dumb move not to let him in — and everyone on set knows it. They all know him and seemed to make sure they spoke to him in a respectful way. “He has photos of actors partying with directors, some of them doing drugs — apparently Sharon Stone has the worst of it. He has a lot of information on her … if it were to get out, it would be a huge scandal.” So, naturally the pap has free reign over film sets and access to “exclusive parties.” When the crew was screaming at photographers brandishing official press passes to get out of the way, they asked Sands nicely to stop shooting, though he basically wandered around the set as he pleased. “Come on, Steve,” a NYPD officer said, “let’s get out of the way now.” ● Sarah Jessica Parker is basically a Beatle. When she first walked out from her trailer to film part of the 80s flashback, hysterical screams and cries emerged from the masses behind the barricades, moving in a wave that started from the side of the plaza and washed over the thousands of fans along 5th Avenue. It echoed all the way to Central Park. It was one of the most amazing things to see, this tiny superstar in cheesy 80’s garb elicit such a dramatic response. ● I think the actresses really do get along. As Cynthia Nixon was filming her scene with braces and books, SJP pulled up to the set in a black SUV, rolled down the window, and shouted: “Hey Cynthia!” It was a good show, and almost funny, as if she was playing a joke on Nixon. ● Being an extra is not the easiest thing. With a 6:30am call time, freezing morning temperatures in thin costumes, and repetitive movements in heels that barely fit, I was beginning to get worn down. That is, until SJP rolled onto set. Seeing the crowds respond to her as she bounced along in 6-inch heels served as a reminder of what a historical production this was. ● The girls care about their fans. As soon as Kim Cattrall wrapped her scene, she rushed over to a mob of fans and signed autographs, posed for pictures, and just chatted them up. ● Kristin Davis wears a wig in the sequel. Between bites at the craft table, I overheard one of the hair dressers talk about how he makes the best wigs (he said he was responsible for Michelle Pfeiffer’s rug in a film). ● Bette Midler is in the 80s flashback. ● There will be a Sex and the City 3. They are currently filming both SATC 2 and SATC 3, as told to me by a few other extras who overheard it from crew members. ● The people in that crew are geniuses. Not knowing what we look like on film, nor if we could be trusted with walking with a normal gait, they pointed to random bodies, yelled cues to us, and when the cameras rolled, it turned into cinematic magic. ● Patricia Field is a genius. I was wearing authentic 80s gear down to my buttons. I have no idea how they were able to know what kinds of characters they would need, but they had the most beautiful wardrobe details; “wealthy 80s shoppers,” “gay rights campaigners,” even schoolgirls and hot dog stand hawkers. ● Extras don’t have much interaction with the talent. Kim Cattrall said she liked my dance to keep warm. She apologized to us for ruining a scene by dropping her Walkman (though she didn’t see me trip and fall in the background minutes earlier). I commented on Pat Field’s busted iPhone at the craft table, and she sighed at her misfortune. Cynthia Nixon asked an extra to run into her a little bit harder. Yeah, that’s about it. But it was totally worth it.

See also: 5 Rules for 80s Makeup from ‘Sex and the City 2’

Kim Cattrall Gets Nude to Save Art

You know what? If petitioning fails, then strip. It’s what Kim Cattrall — who seems to have all but disappeared into her Sex & the City alter-ego Samantha Jones — is doing to prevent Titian’s Diana and Acaeton from leaving the UK. Posing in photographer Tom Hunter’s contemporary take of said painting, Cattrall’s hoping that her curves, coupled with previous donations, can ultimately raise the £50 million needed to keep the painting from being sold off to foreign bidders.