KIM CATTRALL is samantha jones of Sex and the City
The worlds most famous man-eater is waiting for me in her hotel suite. Welcome to Samantha, she smiles. Thanks, but this is just a business call.
We are on the 43rd floor of a luxury hotel overlooking Central Park, and she looks as impressive as ever, clad today in a vivid green figure-hugging dress by Luca Luca, a huge rock on her finger and white, high-heeled Jimmy Choos. Samantha Jones, public relations executive and 97 per cent of the S in Sex and the City, is back, if not with a bang, certainly with lots of bling.
If influence can be measured by bums on restaurant seats, credit cards slapped on fashion boutique counters and late-night giggly conversations about sex, perhaps the most influential series in television history returns as a film. It is four years since Sex and the City ended on TV, inevitably leaving many fans clamouring for an encore into the lives and loves of four New York women. Hysterical crowds turned out in the city each day just to watch the filming, and its fair to say expectations are running high.
Having seen it, I can confirm that clothes are purchased, salads are picked at, and catty remarks are made about living in Brooklyn. But, in other ways, the foursome are tottering into virgin territory. Theyre getting older, the stakes are higher, and its all a bit more serious now.
Thank God, then, for Samantha — or rather Kim Cattrall. Aficionados and casual observers tend to agree that she was the best thing about the television series. She had the funniest lines (she does in the film, too), which were delivered so skillfully that it took several minutes to register how crude they were.
Cattrall compares her character to Aphrodite, but perhaps Chaucers worldly Wife of Bath is nearer the mark, albeit a wife who would have notched up the Knight, the Miller, the Pardoner and probably the Friar before theyd got even halfway to Canterbury.
For Cattrall, who spent the four years between TV series and film playing well-received and rather more weighty roles on the London stage and on television, returning to Samantha was a little daunting. Particularly so as the period also saw her third marriage breaking up and her father developing dementia.
At the read-through, I think we were all nervous for the first couple of pages. But within just a few minutes it felt like we were just hitting our stride again. We played these characters for such a long time, theyre in our system.
Even so, she wasnt ready for those screaming fans around the set perimeter. Cattrall concedes it was sometimes challenging because she couldnt hear her cues, and scenes had to be repeatedly re-shot because of the noise and the flash bulbs. People were screaming your name, your characters name, the directors name and the costume designers name, says Cattrall. I thought, Why was it not like this when we were doing the series?
She provides the answer herself — because of DVD sales, worldwide syndication and repeats, SATC is far bigger now than it was when it was just a cable TV show. Given that it is traditionally considered a girls show, its interesting to hear men were among the screaming fans.
Cattrall was surprised, too. I think men have come along for the ride. Theyve really found it funny, maybe not relevant to their life, but funny. Thats fine. As long as they understand it in some way.
Feminists have bickered over whether SATC has undone feminism or actually bolstered it, but Cattrall warns against taking it too seriously. People have given it almost too much weight and too much responsibility. Its a heightened reality, a fairytale, in some ways a guilty pleasure for a lot of people and some just love it because of the clothes. Were not trying to change the world, or define what love or sex is, or what women are.
Given that her co-star, Sarah Jessica Parker, lives and breathes the SATC ethic in a rather precious way, its quite refreshing that Cattrall puts a bit of distance between herself and the show. She has admitted before that she didnt really watch the show.
And, although the other three were keen to make a film version a few years ago, Cattrall refused until the producers came up with a better plot — Plan A was for a sort of road movie romp — and better money.
Her stance fuelled rumours of personal friction, which Cattrall dismisses. We always have [got on]. The fantasy is that we all really do hang out. But it is a job. We were working 20-hour days. I just wanted to have a nice cup of tea and go to bed.
Thats not exactly how Samantha likes to round off a busy day, but Cattrall, slightly wearily, plays down their similarities. Still, neither have children and both currently have much younger boyfriends.
In Cattralls case it is Alan Wyse, a Canadian chef 23 years her junior. As for children, she says: Right now in my life, I dont know how I could fit a child in.
But is her vamp persona realistic at the age of 51? It depends on where you live, says Cattrall. And on what you look like. It also depends on your financial security. Shes a very successful woman, she takes care of herself.
The film opens with Samantha living in Los Angeles with her young actor boyfriend but hankering for New York. The SATC credo is that New York is the fifth lady, but, despite being based there for years, Cattrall doesnt appear to share Samanthas addiction to the place.
Born in Liverpool and raised in Vancouver, Cattrall moved to New York to go to drama school. She still has a home nearby, but when asked if she regards herself as a New Yorker, she pauses rather too long.
In fact, shes far more enthusiastic talking about London. I love it. I discovered my passion for theatre in England, and that really drives me.
Would she ever do another turn as Miss Jones? She shakes her head. I dont think there will be another Sex and the City, I dont think there can be, she says. There have been so many shows recently that have tried to imitate it, and they havent pulled it off. It has a lot to do with timing.