Sex & The City: The Movie - Cynthia Nixon interview
Compiled by Jack Foley
FOUR years after the ground breaking, often controversial and trend setting HBO series Sex & The City ended, Cynthia Nixon is back in the role that has changed her life. And she’s delighted to be playing Miranda once again, this time on the big screen. She explains why…
Q: So what was it like going back?
Cynthia Nixon: It was surreal. It was fantastic and exciting and you just couldn’t believe it was happening. I mean that was the overwhelming feeling.
Q: Why, because of the sort of chequered history of the film? It was talked about for a long time and didn’t happen…
Cynthia Nixon: It was so long. I mean who does that? First of all who takes a TV series and than makes a film from it? That is very rare, but than also to have it happen after all these years and after we had really just all put it to bed. It was amazing.
Q: So had you emotionally walked away from it?
Cynthia Nixon: Yes absolutely. I mean I got a call from the head of HBO about a year before we started making the film and he said, ‘I wanna do this film. Are you on board?’ I was like: “Well sure.” And than about a year later we found ourselves making it. Amazing.
Q: You weren’t concerned about going back?
Cynthia Nixon: No.
Q: The series had a huge impact on the way women discuss sex. Did you find that people approached you as some kind of expert on the subject simply because you were in the show?
Cynthia Nixon: I know that some of the other women, I think particularly Sarah gets a lot of people telling her intimate details of their lives. I never really had that. I mean maybe it’s that Carrie is the sex columnist or maybe that Carrie is so open and Miranda is so closed. But I didn’t really have that.
Q: Were you aware that for a lot of women the show represented a big change in attitudes towards sex?
Cynthia Nixon: I feel like, men or the world at large, for them the really big thing was: “Wow women have this much sex with this many partners!” Like, ‘that can’t be true’. I mean, I was talking before about how the first couple of years, because we didn’t have any women writers initially on the show. The two writers we had were gay men and there was this idea, that actually these characters are not really women, they are really gay men – which was always very annoying to us.
But I think that for our kind of core women viewers, I feel like the big step forward and the big revelation was not, “wow look how much sex these people are having!” It was: “Being single is not a pity party!” You know being single can be really fun and it can have its headaches, but it is also freedom and it’s elation. I feel like that was the thing, which we kept hearing from women on the street, often tearfully. Like: “Thank you for showing what being single is like.” And showing that I could have actually chosen this. And it might not be just that I was left at the party without anybody to dance with.
Q: What is your expectation for the movie?
Cynthia Nixon: I hope it will do very well and that everyone in the universe will go and see it.
Q: What are the problems that Miranda has to face in the movie?
Cynthia Nixon: Well, she is still in Brooklyn. She really doesn’t like it any better, she’s very, very unhappy about the Brooklyn thing. So she’s still in Brooklyn, still unhappy, still you know advancing at her job, in her firm. Her son is thriving and her marriage is kind of not doing so great.
Q: Is she dealing with unfaithfulness?
Cynthia Nixon: Yes, but even more than unfaithfulness, I think we are dealing with the daily grind that can really take its toll on a relationship. Everybody is working too much and taking care of the kids. And finding time for yourself, let alone for each other as a couple you know. And she also got her mother in law, which takes up a lot of time. Her mother in law has Alzheimer’s and needs a lot of attention, so I think that just the relationship suffers, the relationship is the dispensable thing on the back burner.
Q: So what is it like to combining career and life, how do you do that?
Cynthia Nixon: I feel like as an actor, it’s really nice. If you want to have a family, I feel like being an actor it is a great way to do it, because you have a lot of freedom. You have a job and then the job ends and than maybe you don’t have another job for a while or maybe you chose not have another job for a while. I’ve some friends who have just had babies and they take six or eight weeks off and then they go back to their jobs and they are looking at doing that until the children go to college and beyond, every day from 9 to 6. For an actor, it’s like maybe you don’t see your kid for two weeks while you are filming but then you might have three months off where you are at home every day and picking him up from school. I find it’s a great thing.
Q: Sex And The City is about friendship. What are some of the coolest things your friends have done for you? How important are friends to you?
Cynthia Nixon: I grew up in New York, so I still have you know the people that I went to high school and even elementary school with me. We support each other in a million different ways. I feel like that scene, where Charlotte gives Carrie the ring to buy the apartment, like I can imagine my friends doing that for each other. They come and sit for my kids and you know my best friend was actually there in the delivery room, when both of my kids were born, and that was really great. My children’s father was there too obviously, but it was really great to have her there.
Q: Was there ever any scenes in the show or the film where you felt, oh, I’m not sure about this?
Cynthia Nixon: Certainly there were all kinds of bizarre things. But one that comes to mind is the one where I think we did a lot to popularize was those fake nipples. Do you know what I mean? [laughs] There was an episode where Samantha is given these fake rubber [nipples]. You put them on with adhesive and I guess you are supported [laughs] and you have these erect nipples! It’s amazing to me that people would do that. That men would react is sort of less surprising, but that women would actually do this. And of course we show Samantha seducing somebody this way and than they’re making out, she quickly… [Cynthia pretends to throw the nipples behind her to get rid of the evidence].
Q: How has the film has moved the story on?
Cynthia Nixon: Well, we’re kind of further along in our lives, that’s one thing. I mean Charlotte has her daughter, I described some of the things, the good things and the bad things, that are happening in my life. But I also think two things – one is I think that in order to justify our coming back, but also to be on the big screen, they had to be big stories. None of us are like single anymore, we’re all in our own little ‘Queendom’ and we come together, but it is not like college, where we slam the phone down and don’t talk. It’s really on a more mature level. For my character, when they decided to make Miranda pregnant and a mother, it wasn’t all going to be about the glow of motherhood. It’s about showing some of the hard parts of being married.
Q: Is there anything you don’t like about Miranda?
Cynthia Nixon: No, not really. Sometimes I wish she would think before she speaks more, she wouldn’t jump to conclusions so much and be such an attack dog. But I don’t know if I would really change, certainly as an actress I wouldn’t change that, because that’s really fun to play, but also sometimes the people who really cut through the bullshit or the white noise or whatever, and say what needs to be said- if they stopped and think they would never say it.
Q: How easy was it to get back into the character, because you have been away for a while?
Cynthia Nixon: I don’t feel like it was hard. I mean you would have to be careful when you’re on a TV series that you’re not just going through the motions because it’s so familiar. It’s like being on stage; you have to strive to make sure you are not doing it by numbers. You have to be spontaneous but the nice thing about knowing a character for so long is that it’s such an easy place to go because it’s familiar. It’s easy to get back there.
Q: What was the first day back on set like?
Cynthia Nixon: It was wild. My first day was the second or third day of filming, when all four of us were working for the first time. And we were back in these outfits, and these heels and we have just been away from it and there were 200 people watching, which was very new and we had to learn to walk down the street and walk in unison and not teeter over, but it kind of felt great. What it felt like was a four headed, eight-legged organism.
Q: At what point did you realise that the show had such an influence?
Cynthia Nixon: I think Pat [Patricia Field, costume designer] was on to that pretty early. I won’t say what designer, I used to like to wear who’s outfit were very flattering and Pat was just like: “No. No more.” Because everybody’s wearing that designer and we don’t want people to be tuning on and seeing the girls in the stuff that’s in their closet. We wanted to see the girls in stuff like no one would ever imagine anybody would wear.
Q: But the designers must have been fighting themselves to get on the show?
Cynthia Nixon: I think so. You know not so much with Miranda or Samantha, but more with Carrie and Charlotte. They were wearing a lot of stuff that was not out yet and as a result I think they don’t have as many clothes in their closet, because they were wearing samples that they had to return, mine isn’t current but I have a lot more stuff in my closet [laughs].
Q: Did it influence your own personal style?
Cynthia Nixon: Yes it did. I think Pat taught us all a lot of about mixing high and low fashion. If you have one article of clothing that’s very expensive, you don’t have to have the whole ensemble and look like a Christmas tree. To wear the clothes, to not let them wear you. And to really remember that clothes are beautiful. It’s like the thing they always say, like are you gonna wear something that people say: “Oh that’s a great blouse.” Or are you gonna wear something that people say: “Oh you look great today..” Pat really taught us all how to look at our bodies and look at what should be highlighted and what could be deemphasized.
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