Expectations were high for the Sex and the City sequel we all knew was inevitable after the first movie’s opening weekend. With hundreds of women lined up hours in advance, decked out in heels and sipping Cosmos, how could Warner Brothers not cash in on the sequel?
And cash in they did producing a full-length feature film, complete with glittery gowns, muscular men and the quartet of friends taking a decadent vacation overseas. Collider caught up with the cast, appropriately enough, in the shoe department of Bergdorf-Goodman to dish on the details of the fun, the friends, and, of course, the fashion. To hear what Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth and writer-director Michael Patrick King had to say, continue reading after the jump:
Writer Michael Patrick King said he was inspired to send the girls overseas by the movies made during the Great Depression. The intention, both then and now, was to take the audience on a vacation that they might not have been able to afford themselves.
“My inspiration for this movie was the audience at the first movie,” King said. “When I would see the audience showing up dressed and having cocktails before, in groups, going out, and I saw people taking pictures of themselves in the theater seats I thought, ‘This is an interactive party. This is no longer a movie.’”
King said the first thing he knew about the sequel was that he wanted it to be completely different from the first movie.
“I sat down to write at the beginning of an economic downturn and we’re still in it, and I thought, ‘What’s my job? I’m not a banker. I can’t balance your books. I’m a movie maker – happily.’ And I thought, like they did in the Great Depression, we should take people on a vacation that maybe they can’t afford themselves.”
The vacation takes place in Abu Dhabi, and the cast and crew traveled to Morocco to film on location there. They said the filming was challenging, but very rewarding, for everyone involved.
Compared to filming in New York, where crowds of fans had assembled in front of Bergdorf Goodman, the shooting in Morocco was very isolated and a different experience than what they had become accustomed to.
“We were in the middle of the Sahara dessert, not a sound, not a paparazzi,” King said. “Just the crew, the hot sun, and the sun falling of out of the sky quickly. It was a completely different and bizarre, magical time.”
“It was indescribably wonderful to be so far away in a wonderfully foreign place and have this incredibly cinematic experience,” Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Carrie Bradshaw, said. “To be able to be in the Sahara for days and see things we will never see again. To smell things, to eat things – yes, it was hard, but we could not have done it anywhere else.”
Parker said living with the cast was an enriching and wonderful experience for her, and she sang the praises of everyone involved.
“We were removed. We were shooting out of the country for the first time, and we’ve never done that before,” she said. “We had this chance to live together and to know one another in a way we never had the opportunity to do so in New York. In New York we would go home to our friends and family and children and our animals, and this changed everything. I came away loving them more than I ever have because I got to see them in a new way. I was so reliant on them and they became ever more necessary.”
Parker said she was inspired by the work ethic of the people around her.
“I was so challenged by the work they were doing and how good they were,” she said. “They were such thoroughbreds. Nothing could get us down, no matter how hungry we were or how much we had to go to the bathroom on hour 18 of day 58…looking around the crew and the people we brought and we could see in their eyes this was the day they were missing their kids, but they were sticking it out with us. It was incredibly impressive and inspiring and it felt very buoyant on tough days.”
There were some tough days for Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte York-Goldenblatt, who became quite sick while shooting in Morocco.
I didn’t want anyone to know, “ Davis said. “So I texted Aaron [Parker’s brother]. I was like, ‘Aaron, can you call the doctor? I can’t get out of bed!’ And then we didn’t tell anyone until I was better. It was our little secret.”
“Apparently,” Parker added, “If you’re very sick and have a very serious intestinal issue, you just need warm milk.”
After she said that, Davis interrupted, saying, “Stop, stop, stop! You don’t have to tell them everything!”
“I didn’t say you,” Parker said, laughing. “I said you had a strange cough.”
The film, which begins two years after the last one ended, addresses the challenges of married life after Carrie and Mr. Big’s wedding. Struggling with the idea of being a wife, Carrie rebels against the conventions of married life.
“The big theme of the movie for all of us in our own way is tradition and why we run towards it and why do we push it away and why do we so willingly want to commit to conventions like the institution of marriage?” Parker said. “Do we find ourselves squirming and asking questions, and how do we redefine tradition for ourselves and how do our friends around us redefine tradition?”
The challenges the character of Charlotte faces in the film addresses her struggling to maintain a seemingly perfect life, which is actually anything but perfect.
“Charlotte has very, very high expectations of herself in those traditions, and she doesn’t always live up to them,” Davis said. “She’s faced with, yet again, her own lack of the perfect picture that she’s trying to create, and even having trouble being honest with herself about the stress involved.”
Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon, struggles on a professional level as she decides whether to stay at a high-paying, unsatisfying job as a corporate lawyer.
“I think the part of it I can relate to is as you get older and as you get more a sense of yourself, which I think is happening to Miranda in the movie, is learning to value yourself,” Nixon said. “If someone is treating you badly, maybe it’s in my vested interest to keep my mouth shut, but I have to speak out for myself and I have to protect myself.”
Samantha’s challenges could be summed up more succinctly. When asked what issues her character faced, Kim Cattrall immediately answered, “Menopause. And I didn’t need to do any research.”
The four characters are very different, and the unique and long-lasting friendship between them is something the both King and the cast cherish.
“It’s women, who are different, with different lives – our characters are different, and yet we’re very, very together,” Davis said. “No matter if we always agree. Sometimes the characters disagree. I love what we’ve created all together and what Michael has created in the writing for us is these really powerful women who can each be powerful in their own right and still be together.”
The show and movies are credited with opening doors for women in society, which the cast is also very proud of.
“I think we are a feminist show,” Nixon said. “But being a feminist show doesn’t mean you have to have a career. Or you have to not be married. Or you have to be married. For these four women, who are very close, but very different, we see a whole range of what’s available and what direction you want to take in life.”
Parker commented on the support the four characters provide for each other, which she believes is unique in present-day culture.
“I will say that in an era in culture when women are really unkind to one another and call each other horrible names and a vernacular which I find really objectionable, I really, really love how these women love each other,” Parker said. “I live how decent and honorable they are to one another. I love how they respect one another. They were never made to be friends. Their DNA is so radically different, from one to the next, and they have found this incomparable friendship that is really, truly inspiring to me in my friendships. It changes how I look at my friendships constantly. It changes the way I look at friendships, the way I respond to my friend’s choices. When I look at a lot of what’s available on television and I see how women treat each other, I like that there is some place where we still like to illustrate that women would much rather be allies than adversaries.”
The unique personalities of the characters and their determination to be individuals is a large part of the show’s appeal, according to King, who said the role of the villain in the show is assumed by the social standards placed on women.
“If people like this movie, I think it’s because of the story about looking for love, maybe with someone else, but mostly about looking for a love of yourself in this crazy society that we have,” King said. “In any great story you need a villain, and in ours it’s society. I think society tells you to be somebody and the individual always pushes back and pushes their way out. We all love it, but it’s really about being an individual.”
Chris Noth, who plays Carrie’s husband Mr. Big, also commented on King’s perspective, saying, “The way I figure it out is it’s a conversation between the head and the heart that all of us often have. And often the head is dealing with all the shoulds that society puts out there and trying to find a way. When you talk about the journey of what marriage should be as opposed to what it is between two people that’s real. And then there’s all these other shoulds all through the series that we defy in a way in the show and take on and sometimes embrace.”
Friendships were not the only thing the cast thought they had presented in a new way to their audience. The influence Sex and the City has had is undeniable, and very widespread.
“I think the most powerful thing to me is we have encouraged a lot of women to change the way they feel about being single, about having cancer, all the storylines – about getting married, then being deserted, being alone, being lonely. I think we’ve addressed them and encouraged them to come together,” Cattrall said. “And I think that’s a very powerful thing. In this era of post-feminism, I think that we’ve helped define what is to be successful, smart and also feminine.”
“I think women of a certain generation aren’t even conscious of the fact that we are asking ourselves questions,” Parker added. “We are in the process of redefining our roles all the time. It’s the great gift that our mothers gave us – this opportunity to rethink the roles that we take on in a very conventional institution. Whether it’s a partnership that’s defined by society, a work environment or the way people see us in our work. It’s kind of a privilege to talk about this topic because it feels so relevant to me without being preachy. “