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PSA: Kim Cattrall was famous before "Sex and the City," okay?

by Nathaniel R

Just when you think the world can't get any more sexist, there's always a reminder that it can. One such reminder is the famed existence of Sex and the City, a target in perpetuity. It often brings out the very worst in journalists, critics, famous people, and the public alike (both male and female in all four cases) as people fall over themselves with new ways to hate on, be offended by, or attempt to take down that particularly glitzy femme pleasure.

The brand has beenquiet for some time now until the Daily Mail posted a gross story about Kim Cattrall supposedly stopping production of Sex and the City 3 in its tracks with "outrageous demands". I didn't personally believe this was true, even before the stars started giving quote about it. The more quotes there are the more it's clear that everyone will have a different perception of what happened and that's fine. What was shocking was not the misleading story (my best guess is that the truth is somewhere inbetween all the quotes from the cast and executives because many many people with big egos and lots of millions are involved) but how unbelievably petty and sexist the "sources" were in their quotes about Cattrall...



I'm not going to share those anonymous source quotes (I already showered once today) but actors are not slaves and do not owe anybody anything once they've completed their contracts. While it's natural for fans to sometimes judge actors who won't do a sequel to some beloved thing that earned them their spot in pop culture (Julia Roberts used to get hit with that about her refusal to consider a Mystic Pizza sequel), they're people, too. They have their reasons. Imagine if you finished or quit a job and someone demanded that you return to it despite knowing full well that you didn't want to? Gross! The presumptuous entitlement of it.

For the record because people at large (who react to or comment on these stories and especially those who are actually 'sourced' for them) are very ignorant about history and come with agendas, Cattrall tends to get painted as a nobody ingrate because of her decision. But because yours truly increasingly feels as old as Methusaleh given the teensy tiny selective and sexist memories of pop culture, it's worth reiterating that Kim Cattrall was hardly a nobody before the show. It did not "make" her.


Kim Cattrall's screen career began in 1975 way down the call sheet of both movies and TV shows (as 99% of acting careers do). By the late 70s she was getting bigger roles and higher profile projects like the hit miniseries Scruples (starring Lindsay Wagner) and in the 1980s her career took off. In 1981 she had her breakout role in the shockingly successful teen sex comedy Porky's (which received two sequels though she didn't return) and she followed that up with the big female role in another shockingly successful comedy Police Academy (which received multiple sequels though she didn't return -- see a pattern? Maybe don't expect her to do endless sequels unless you lock her in early for them!).

After that came leading roles in other hits (Big Trouble in Little China with Kurt Russell and Mannequin with Andrew McCarthy are the best remembered) and a slew of other projects which aren't well remembered (give or take a Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country). Things slowed down in the 1990s in terms of her stardom, if not her workload, until she landed the biggest part of her career.

In 1998 she teamed up with the still rising Sarah Jessica Parker. SJP had come to fame exactly one year after Cattrall on TV's Square Pegs but she hadn't been as successful as Cattrall until the 1990s when her star really started to skyrocket as Cattrall's waned. They'd be joined by two then lesser-known actresses (Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis) and television history was made with HBO's behemoth hit sitcom Sex and the City. It will forever be the defining roles for that quartet of actresses but that doesn't mean they didn't exist before it or haven't been impressive outside of it.

The point is this: Cattrall was not some nobody who lucked out and literally owes the franchise her entire career (like, say, the Harry Potter kids). She was already a star before the series and continued to work after it on screen and stage (to fine reviews with the latter). She gave Sex and the City several years of her life and then signed on (by all accounts reluctantly) to two movies, the last of which was much reviled because it was not so good, culturally kind of tone-deaf, and because our world is so freaking sexist (unfortunately even many women have often had their knives out as viciously as men when it came to the Sex stars). Cattrall gave the property a dozen years of her life, gave fans one of showbiz's very funniest ethical sluts, and if she doesn't want to do it anymore, so be it! It's not like she bailed during her contract and prevented a massive cultural moment from running its course. 

I'll admit that I was a smidge disappointed that there wouldn't be a third movie myself (as a huge fan of the series) but there was no guarantee it wasn't going to further tarnish happy memories and 12 successful years is a pretty great run for any showbiz brand. Wouldn't our movie and TV culture be a better (and more original) place if all franchises wrapped up after 12 years and didn't outstay their welcomes? 

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Reader Comments (50)

I don't get the point of doing this looooooong defense of Cattrall and taking that cheap shot at the Harry Potter "kids." Especially because I feel calling Cattrall a "star" is a stretch. As it is to say she (or the ladies) have been impressive outside of it. They haven't. But sexism and ageism were part of the show's central themes!

I also think you're giving most of the actresses too much credit outside Sex and the City (Nixon exempted). And...not that there's anything wrong with that. It's a tough business and luck doesn't always strike more than once. That she was in a great show for a long period of time and she was excellent in it doesn't mean there was an aspect of luck involved, nor is admitting that taking away from her work.

Other than that, I appreciated this post for the recognition to a usually excellent actress.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

She's an 80s icon to me. Were it not for Sex and the City should would not be this relevant to the pop culture. She could easily be a post here for her 80s output and what happened to her. She has leveraged her Sex and the City clout to do whatever she chooses. She did an HBO show exclusive to Canada were her character was not too different from Samantha.

If you wanna blame someone for the downfall of Sex and the City point to no one but Michael Patrick King and his insistence these characters remain caricature for the sake of comedy when he has complete creative autonomy. The series had a balance of fantasy and realism. He should have involved some of the female writing staff from the series for their input. He wrote these messy ugly scripts that were a mere cash-in to jump start Parker's stalled film career. The movies did not miss her because all audiences saw was Carrie Bradshaw insisting she was someone else. Sarah Jessica needs to find a weirdo filmmaker like Tim Burton again to use her properly.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Nixon appears to be the most gifted actress post Sex .... the others careers are in the toilet ....

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark

'Steve_Man' It does seem that NATHANIEL R is irritated by "the Harry Potter kids". As for the article in the Mail, it's what they do, don't expect accuracy from this rag. I think Kim herself said all there needed to be said in her tweet.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe (UK)

the cheap shot at the hp kids :/... also, what great acting career could they have had before? they started with like 10 years old.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Nathaniel's always had a thing against the HP kids - Rupert Grint, fair enough but Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe have remained relevant and challenge themselves and I would argue Watson in particular (as much as you struggle with her) has extended herself beyond the 'Hermione' label... bit of a mean spirited comment I think...

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermorganb

Nixon is a Broadway veteran who now has multiple Tonys and Emmys to her name. Catrall also has tread the boards, and SJP has a (new) successful show on HBO. Not sure what Davis is (or has been) doing, but these ladies have residuals and I'm sure are just fine. Next summer will be the 20th anniversary of SATC, and for God's sake let's all take a breath, relax and give credit where it's due: SATC was a groundbreaking show and pop-culture phenomenon that is not going anywhere, anytime soon in our collective social conscious.

That said, yes, the blame for the diminishing returns of the SATC franchise lies squarely with Michael Patrick King, who I'm convinced was not the most judicious caretaker of this gem. I mean, my God, when the ghastly sequel was released seven years ago, and two disparate characters who never in a million years would get together in real life somehow, perplexingly, got married in front of Liza fuckin' Minnelli, I knew SATC had jumped the shark irrevocably. Catrall is just honest enough to acknowledge that SATC had run its course, and, thankfully, will live long and proud as one of the best TV series of all time in fans' long, die-hard memories.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

The comment about the Harry Potter kids is accurate.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCinepfile

Cattrall is a good actress, but uneven. She has been great in some stage roles post-Sex and the City, but some have been lackluster. And she was easily the weakest link in the otherwise great The Ghost Writer.

Nixon has been the one who has truly soared since the show/films have ended. Memorable and award-winning stage performances and great film roles (James White and A Quiet Passion), and rumor has it that she may run for Governor of New York.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

She doesn't want to do a third film. That is entirely reasonable.

The end.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Some stars can get lured in to doing sequal after sequal male and female to sometimes their and our detriment,I mean how much goodwill has Willis thrown away with more inferior Die Hard films,Milla Jovovich in Residen Evil part whatever,Depp in Pirates and so on.

She doesn't need to do it so why should she as soon as your a woman with an opinion your a Bitch,difficult,demanding,unreasonable,selfish never strong,true,honest,moralistic etc.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm not sure why Nathaniel's comment about the Harry Potter actors is so controversial to some other posters. The reason they are famous is solely due to the franchise they appeared in for a decade. Yes, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have picked some interesting projects since then, but none of them are exactly signature roles and - for my money, at least - they haven't tried to stretch themselves much as actors in the same way as, say, Kristen Stewart.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterben1283

Uh... they can just replace her with Moira Kelly and give us SATC: Fire Cock with Me.

(Jk I know there’s no movie without Cattrall, and coming back for the 2nd was the final favor she was willing to grant the series.)

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I feel like most of these comments miss the point of Nathaniel's post, with which I agree. In short, Cattrall does not owe her success completely to Sex and the City because she had an established career beforehand. Therefore, she does not owe the franchise any more than she's already given it.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

I wish people would support the SATC women in other non-SATC roles! Cattrall is awesome on Sensitive Skin (it's on Netflix people!), and SJP is doing new stuff that we haven't seen her do before on Divorce. The show's not great, but she always is.

As Nathaniel knows, I am a massive HP fan, and those kids were lucky to get those parts in that franchise. Calm down, guys.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

@Troy H

Kim's biggest cultural contribution before Sex was being the mannequin in Mannequin. Sex and the City is the peak of her popularity with the public and the industry.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

in the 1981 canadian film ticket to heaven cattrall is excellent as a devout follower of a moonies like cult [remember the moonies? whatever happened to people disappearing into cults?]

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Sex and the City (2008) 49% Rotten Tomatoes, 53 Metacritic score
Sex and the City 2 (2010) 16% Rotten Tomatoes, 27 Metacritic score

Sex and the City 2 won three Razzie Awards (of seven nominations) including Worst Actress for all four main actresses. Cynthia Nixon, Tony-winning Broadway dramatist, won a Razzie for Worst Actress this decade. That's not sexism or bias against the franchise. It can't be said enough that the Sex and the City movies are BAD.

This public shaming of Kim Cattrall would be like shaming Sharon Stone for refusing to do a Catwoman sequel. Maybe she just doesn't want to win another Razzie?

And what's more, SatC is one of the best, most important and groundbreaking shows in TV history. Mysteriously, we don't talk about it that way very often. Maybe it's because we keep exhuming it for ridiculous postscripts that do actual harm to the show's legacy.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

/3rtful: Big Trouble in Little China called, you're an idiot.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Fuck you. I grew up with the movie just like you did. But she's not the star of that thing. Nor the reason to watch it.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

WARNING (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE): stop with the name calling and insulating each other or i'm going to start deleting comments. So sick of this. Be nice to each other and respectful about actresses or shut your mouth.

If you feel the need to demean actresses (*note: that's different than normal critical conversations about whether someone performed well in a given movie) this is 100% not the right site for you.

HAYDEN -- sorry i have to take issue with this part

Sex and the City 2 won three Razzie Awards (of seven nominations) including Worst Actress for all four main actresses. Cynthia Nixon, Tony-winning Broadway dramatist, won a Razzie for Worst Actress this decade. That's not sexism or bias against the franchise. It can't be said enough that the Sex and the City movies are BAD.
whether or not a movie or franchise is bad is beside the point in this context. Just read what you wrote please. Claiming that calling an actress the calibre of Cynthia Nixon "worst of the decade" is NOT rooted in sexism is just not paying attention.

What's more the Razzies themselves are deeply and obviously sexist (they especially love trashing actresses over 40) so they probably would have attacked that movie even if it were much better than it is.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat: DEEPLY sexist, for me, would imply they try to attack women and their icky women taste relatively consistently and as hard as possible, which would translate into a lot of Worst Picture "WINNERS" that clearly skew women aimed. Trend wise, that's not really borne out by the actual "winners" list (where even the female led "winners" are either aimed at men or are films obviously banking on cross gender appeal) in the big show category. Moderately sexist at most. Because, sorry, I can't call an organization that gave Worst Picture "wins" to Transformers 2 and Hilary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party deeply sexist.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I was going to write something about the extreme irony of this site (with its smug twitter friends that are always celebrated) complaining about the unwarranted, unearned ¨presumptuous entitlement¨ going on in the internet. But I don´t feel I have to since the very next ¨article¨ here is someone ordering James Cameron how he must spend his money.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

I don't blame Cattrall for doing a third film. After all, she already has a great body of work with films like Porky's, Police Academy, Mannequin, The Ghost Writer, and Big Trouble in Little China. Those are the films I want to remember her for. Not fucking Sex & the City 2. That was embarrassing. Plus, anyone who doesn't like Big Trouble in Little China can eat my asshole.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Of course i'd like to see a third SATC because i just love the girls, but most of all because i'd take everything that could erase the memory of the TERRIBLE second movie !!!!!
It was pretty embarassing watching it, so i can only imagine how unconfortable it should have been to ACT in it (especially for Cattrall !!! that condoms sequence still haunts me...) and to earn a Razzie along the way.

I think it's pretty brave to turn your back on a pretty big paycheck just out of artistic integrity. (the silence of Nixon about the third film says a lot about it : the girl is on fire right now and i think a new film, as terrible as the second one was, would just ruin her dynamic...)

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

Note: Sorry, I meant that "icky taste" bit as an attempt to accentuate the idea of a straw man of a "deeply" sexist Razzies, as opposed to the moderately sexist at most they actually are. I don't actually think that.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

You tell 'em, Nathaniel!

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlylee

If they really wanted to do the another movie they would have re-cast the role- or written a new similar character- sounds like a perfect vehicle for Sharon Stone.

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

If she doesnt want to do the movie, she doesn’t have to do the movie and the rest of this snooty cast can shove off. That they are publicly shaming her is BS

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHuh

Do you guys consider the show feminist? Its take on female friendship is more than admirable, but as Miranda said, "It's like seventh grade with bank accounts."

September 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

The second film was really bad. However, if King and co. have a story in mind to end this 12-year run, then it should be made. Cattrall doesn't "owe" anyone anything, yes, but fans perfectly have the right to be disappointed over this news. It seems like there is more story left to tell, and the other three ladies are clearly wanting this to happen. We're in the midst of a television reboot resurgence that I'm pretty excited about. And frankly, they could easily write around Samantha in a number of ways (a sabbatical around the globe, new job on the west coast, the cancer returned, etc.). Unless there's some contractual or verbal agreement that it's all or nothing for the leads to sign on, then go ahead and do it! Make it lower stakes and just release it on HBO instead of bigscreen, which is how it should have been anyway.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWest

Nathaniel, people can have their opinions and if one person thinks Cynthia is a terrible actress let them be and not accuse sexism. It's very much a starwman argument even if you feel it's ridiculous opinion to think she is the worst. The point is that it's very dissapointing to see people writing for this site take things personally and assume worst from people if they disagree with your opinion.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChinoiserie

Nathaniel - If they replace Kim Cattrall with, say, Sharon Stone or Ellen Barkin, will it work?

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjack

Kim was the only character that I looked forward to on the TV show. Both films were awful and the world doesn't need a Part 3. If they must have a part 3, just start at Samantha's funeral from breast cancer or something and move on...

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

Wait, people are trying to talk about the integrity of the Razzie Awards? Basically anyone can vote as long as they pay.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTony AKA Fernando

Tony AKA Fernando: And yet, for a membership process that degraded, they're at least as good at picking the absolute worst of the year as the Oscars are at judging the best, maybe even better. I'd only really be able to point to ONE Worst Picture "winner" (Mommie Dearest) and two nominees (Newsies and Last Action Hero) as definitely mistakes for what they are. I can point to a lot more Best Picture mistakes than that for the Oscars.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I separate the show, which was a huge cultural moment, from the movies.

On this subject, the actor who plays Stanford--who certainly has no reason to lie--has confirmed on Twitter that this Kim Cattrall Daily Mail story was true. I remember she held out on the first movie and rightly so! They were barely paid anything for the HBO show and she wanted cash money.

I simply don't get what story could be told for part 3.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Wow, this blew up. Sorry to say to ya'll old blokes, but for us young folks none of us have watched this show or really care about it.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

The first movie was enjoyable- the second movie was endless-more travelogue-fashion show than an actual movie- yes that's part of the" SITC" appeal but the tv shows were 30 minutes long and funny.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

Before Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall was known more for films like Mannequin and Star Trek VI but it is Sex and the City that gave recognition to her since she had fallen in the B films (the first time I remember seeing it was in a movie with another actor in b films Billy Zane where she she a half human half robot agent) For Sex and the City she was nominated 5 times to the Emmy, won the Golden Globe and obtained individual nominations to Sag. In addition to that Samantha Jones is one of the most famous television characters and she practically became the face of the series. I thought that after appearing in The Ghost Writer and Meet Monica Velor she would be a frequent presence in cinema but did not happen. Although her television work is strong. I recommend My Boy Jack where she is the mother of Daniel Radcliffe and Carey Mulligan.

But she is not required to make a third movie if she does not want it and there is no contract involved. The first film is acceptable but the second is very bad (the rating of 4.4 in Imdb is too kind) as well as a lack of respect for other cultures.
By the way it is unfair the comparison with the actors of Harry Potter because they were children when they acted in the first film and she an adult.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Becuase nobody cleared this up: Cynthia Nixon did NOT win a razzie for worst actress of the decade. This is utter nonsense - or (I really hate to say it) "Fake News".

She wasn't even nominated for such an award and it would have been VERY random otherwise. Yes, she did win the razzie for worst actress (like Cattrell, Parker and Davis, all as a collective for Sex and the City 2), but that's it. After that, Nixon wasn't even in the near of being nominated for anything that had to be named as "worst" or" bad".

I don't know why somebody would say otherwise, because Cynthia Nixon is the most talented and competent actress of the Sex-and-the-City-Quartett - simply because she is a damn good actress.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

@ beyaccount: Your loss then. I wouldn't be so quick to proclaim your youthful naïveté and cultural ignorance.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIan

Thanks Nathaniel for sticking up for one of my favourite actresses. Cattrall doesn't wish to reprise her role as Samantha, which is fine by me considering the low quality of the second film.
I have heard too many insults thrown at this actress for doing something that is a smart decision.
I wish more actors walked away from sequels
Thanks again for your common sense

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

@ Ian - I was also puzzled by that idiotic post and I appreciate your retort to it.

@ Pablo - Lol! Touché, there!

Re: original topic. Kudos on her for refusing an easy paycheck and turning down the sequel. Not many people would do it, especially acttesses her age, for whom roles and movies, especially hit summer ones, are hard to come by.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Bia -- eh. Willie Garson showed his true colors in his quote where he suggested Kim Cattrall hadn't earned her paychecks / career. Yuck.

jack -- nope. youi cant replace any member of group dynamics that famous and expect it to work. But it was super funny that Sally Kirkland chimed in online to say she'd be up for taking over the role. Love Sally.

bey -How young are we talking? Jeez.This franchise was still a huge deal only 9 years ago, when the first movie made over $400 million globally. sorry not sorry i'm not into the notion that young people shouldn't care (and be proud of not caring) about culture prior to whatever is happening right now. I'm glad I wasn't like that as a teenager! I think there's interesting stuff in every decade

October 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

That was hardly a cheap shot against the HP kids. It's just true. It's not an insult to their talent or their post-HP careers. But they were kids without careers before that franchise came along. Just a fact. That statement really isn't that big of a deal.

The TV show and first movie could be funny and charming but were incredibly uneven. The second movie was just trash and I think Cattrall especially got the worst of it. What King did to her character, what with her almost hysterical breakdown in a public crowd, was just ignorant incompetence run amok. As an actor I wouldn't trust him with my character after that. (Although it did give us this glorious Lindy West review of the movie that went viral:

October 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Can't they do a third one with without Samantha? It could start with her memorial service, and then it's a "funny" wake because she wanted it that way. Then the ladies could become friends with her cousin Jennifer Lawrence, who is hot to trot and reminds them of Samantha. Easy peasy.

October 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMinerva


My point wasn't that Cynthia Nixon was bad; It's that the movie's objective, provable badness brought unmerited negative attention on actresses who otherwise don't deserve it. When you make a shit movie that's panned and ridiculed, you put yourself in the Razzies' firing line even if your performance is fine. SatC 2 was not panned and ridiculed because it was a film about women (or these women): The first movie got zero Razzie nods and mostly favorable (if lightweight) attention.

RE: Sexism, the Razzies are always tongue-in-cheek and usually you're more generous when it comes to general harmless irreverence. As often as they "award" sincerely bad work, the Razzies' perspective is "This movie should not have been made, period."

They just happened to feel that way about Sex and the City movies 10 years before Kim Cattrall did.

October 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

October 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Nathaniel - God bless Sally. I always look her up at Getty Images to see what she's been up to and never once disappointed.

October 3, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjack

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