| Kim (left) with the other stars of Sex And The City
You can take the lady out of the Sex, but can you take the sex out of the lady' Not if the lady is Kim Cattrall: actress, author and documentarian who is best-known for her six-year run as sexual swashbuckler Samantha Jones on HBO's Sex and the City.
Series creator Darren Star characterises the most energetic of his former Sex quartet as being 'absolutely fearless,' and chances are he's not simply talking about Samantha's choice of rendezvous points. 'In a way, because she is beautiful and sexy, she almost doesn't get the credit she deserves for the risks that she did take,' Star says of Cattrall, who earned five Emmy nominations during the show's run.
Cattrall plays a tough-as-nails ice skating coach in Disney's G-rated Ice Princess, but she hasn't let her interest in matters erotic taper off. The author of The Art of the Female Orgasm has travelled the country researching a new documentary, Sexual Intelligence, produced through her Toronto-based production company, Fertile Ground Productions.
Yes, you could say that Cattrall likes to talk ' both personally and creatively ' about sex. 'I think people think I'm Samantha,' the 48-year-old actress says. 'But I don't know if she was sexually educated. The kind of sexual antics Samantha got into I don't think had a lot of in-depth understanding of what she was about or where she was psychologically, in terms of acting out her fantasies in ways that were very satisfying. Was she of a sexually spiritual nature' I think she could have gone there, but maybe the story lines wouldn't have been as funny.'
Cattrall discounts any claim that she possesses great wisdom where sex is concerned. 'I don't ever purport to be any kind of therapist or expert or anything like that. I just ask questions. Most people's sexuality is not something they're interested in exploring. A lot of men and women are scared to open it up, see what it's about, find themselves in that arena and be comfortable in it. I think that's fascinating.'
And for the record, when Cattrall talks about sensual experiences, she's not restricting herself. 'It can be a very sensual, sexual experience just having a wonderful meal, or going into a beautiful building, or being on a beach,' she says. 'If you're just really enjoying yourself, enveloping yourself in your senses, that can be sexual.'
The actress has finished a performance of Brian Clark's play Whose Life Is It Anyway' at the Comedy Theatre and is facing two performances on Saturday. In the updated version of Clark's play ' which was a 1981 movie starring Richard Dreyfuss ' Cattrall plays Claire Harrison, a sculptor who rethinks her life after a car accident leaves her paralysed from neck down. The role was originally written for a man, but former Royal Shakespeare Company top dog Sir Peter Hall envisioned reconfiguring the role for Cattrall, whom he'd seen on stage as an ingenue in the National Theatre production of Wild Honey on Broadway back in the mid-1980s.
'I had been trying to catch her between the series and not succeeding until now,' says Hall. 'It was also a question of finding a play different enough and surprising enough to not be what everybody was expecting of her: the sexy, blonde, wisecracking vamp. I think people have been surprised to find her locked in a hospital bed, and she's done superbly, I must say,' adds Hall, who hopes to periodically lure her back to the London stage and says he has a few projects in mind.
'I feel like I'm home,' Cattrall says. 'I love the audience, I love rehearsing. This is why I wanted to be an actor. I saw my first professional show here (in London) when I was 10, and I literally walked out of the show and said, 'This is what I want to do.' Fans unwilling to cross the Atlantic or wait for Whose Life... to come to New York in the fall can catch a different Kim Cattrall in Ice Princess, a film that she made in part because it was a U-turn from Samantha.
Tina Harwood, the disgraced and possibly devious skating coach, tries to guide her daughter Gen (played by Hayden Panettiere) to Olympic glory, even at the expense of plucky and more deserving Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg). According to producer Bridget Johnson, they wanted someone with a mixture of toughness and vulnerability, someone who could play comedy and be credible as the mother of two teenage children.
Cattrall, who played Britney Spears' mother in Crossroads, signed on. 'It's kind of like walking a tightrope,' says Cattrall. 'Everybody loves Samantha, including me, because she's so brave, charismatic and full of life. This character (Tina) is so shut down, hurt and damaged. I've got a lot of empathy for someone who has a dream that has never been realised. I've realised so many of mine, but I have family and friends who haven't.'
| Kim Catrall: Work and play
The wrapping of Sex and the immediate filming schedule for Ice Princess in Toronto forced Cattrall and her newly formed Fertile Ground Productions to delay production of the upcoming documentary Sexual Intelligence. It also meant that Cattrall would have no time to learn any ice manoeuvres of her own for the film. But that was cool with Cattrall, who enjoyed joining a very different female ensemble that includes Joan Cusack as Casey's mom. Major bonding ensued.
And the film's subject matter resonated. 'I've seen so many young actresses and actors where parents want them to succeed and be a big star regardless of what they want,' says Cattrall. 'They're doing it for the best possible intentions until the kid gets to a certain age and says, 'That's not who I am.' With both Joan's and my characters, there's a different layer from what would come from a Disney movie. Adults can say 'OK, it's not just for kids.' There's a lesson here about relationships and projecting what you want on your kid.'
Whose Life Is It Anyway' runs until the end of April. Then Cattrall, who hopes to reprise the role in the fall, plans to return to her home in New York. There are some finishing touches to be placed on Sexual Intelligence and the accompanying book before Cattrall takes her first extended break since, you guessed it, the end of Sex. 'I'll be with my cat and friends in the East Hamptons, and we'll sit on the beach, cook, drink great wine and have a nice time,' says Cattrall. 'I deserve it.'