Interview with Kim Cattrall
'I didn't want to take the Samantha role — at 40, I didn't think I was sexy enough'
KENNETH WHYTE | April 16, 2008 |
Also at Macleans.ca:
- The curse of Sex and the City
Did the landmark series ruin television for strong female characters?
- The Macleans.ca Interview: Darren Star
The creator of Sex and the City on objectifying men, taking network TV too far and why his hit series holds up, even without the four-letter words and naughty bits.
For six seasons, Canadian actress Kim Cattrall starred as the insatiable Samantha Jones on the groundbreaking HBO series, Sex and the City. Now, four years since Samantha's last tryst, the cast and crew are reuniting to unveil Sex and the City: The Movie, one of the most anticipated films of 2008 (in theatres May 30). In a candid interview with Maclean's, Cattrall dishes on rumours of on-set feuds and the great part about turning 50. She is currently at work developing a new series for HBO.
Q: Do you remember your audition for Sex and the City?
A: I didn't really audition. [The show's creator] Darren Star pursued me for the project. I remember I was looking around a bookstore, and I saw the book Sex and the City, and I thought, "That's really weird. I'll read that." So I read more than half and I remember literally throwing it across the room, because I was single at the time and I thought, "This is really depressing," and, "If men are like that, f--k them, and if women are so pathetic . . ." It's sad, you know? They seem to be at each other, not for each other. I recognized that Candace Bushnell's a really talented writer, but I didn't care about the people she was writing about, and I'd never been part of that kind of set.
Q: What set?
A: You know, that kind of cool, hip New York, the latest drink, the latest restaurant, the latest party, the latest designer. So I just forgot about it, and then I got a call saying that Sarah [Jessica Parker] was doing it, and I thought that was kind of interesting.
Q: Did you know her?
A: I'd met her socially. I'd seen her in the Steve Martin film about L.A. — I thought she was terrific — and they said, "Well, we'd like you to look at the role of Samantha," because they were casting Sarah [as Carrie]. Sarah's about 10 years younger than I am — and I thought, "Oh, okay. All right." I read it again and I still said, "Enh, I don't like it, even if she's involved. It's really not for me," and Darren hired somebody else.
Q: Oh, really?
A: Yeah. And then Dennis Erdman — Darren's boyfriend and an old friend of mine — called me on a Sunday. It was about five or six weeks before they were going to start shooting, and he said, "I just wanted to know what happened, why you said no." I said, "I don't know, Dennis," I was 41, "I just kind of feel like I'm over the hill to play this kind of role, and I don't really know if I can do it." He said, "You're really wrong."
Q: Were they asking you to commit to the whole series?
A: Oh, yes. You have to be willing to sign a contract which is basically six years of your life.
Q: At this point was it a pilot?
A: Just a pilot. It's scary, and when you're 41 that means you're 47 — if it goes longer — and you think, "I don't know if I want to do this." I'd done one other series before and I just couldn't bear it. It was hellacious. I had no life, and I think I was at a last-ditch scenario of, "Will I get married? Will I have a child?" So when this came about they kept saying, "Well, it's not TV. It's HBO," and I was like, "It's still a television hour." They said, "Well, this is a half-hour, it's not an hour." So I called Darren the next morning after this sleepless night and I said, "Look, I'd like to have lunch." I really laid out my concerns, and one of them was that Samantha would just become a two-dimensional character, which I thought she was on the page. He said, "No-no-no-no!" He just really charmed me.
Q: When did you first get the sense that it was something special and it might take off?
A: It was in the middle of the first season, and it was an episode where the four of us were all in black and we were going to the suburbs. Have you watched it?