It's not that Kim Cattrall isn't game for a third Sex and the City, but the actress -- known for her Golden Globe-winning role as Samantha Jones on the hit HBO dramedy -- is nearly 20 years older than she was when the show first premiered in 1998.
Now 60, Cattrall says her interests lie in projects about women her age that aren't being made. Since 2014, she’s been co-producing and starring in the HBO Canada drama Sensitive Skin, playing Davina Jackson, a 50-something woman who struggles with aging. Cattrall also plays Emily French, a glamorous, well-off widow exploring the emotional cost of being a middle-aged woman in BBC One’s adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story The Witness for the Prosecution, premiering in the U.S. Monday, Jan. 30 on Acorn TV.
In a chat with ET, Cattrall opens up about taking on parts that "dispel" female convention, producing roles women that she says Hollywood isn't and the possibility of a third Sex and the City movie after the sequel received such harsh criticism.
ET: What appeals to you most about Emily French?
Kim Cattrall: I think what I'm attracted to, first of all, is dispelling [boxes we put women in], and playing parts and infusing them as much as I can with that kind of vulnerability and understanding as an actor. I think there's very fertile ground to expose all of that and tell those kinds of stories, and we just don't have enough of those stories. I think that's where I'm very happy spending time and exploring and creating.
You have a tendency to gravitate toward strong female roles, and in some ways, you might put Emily French in that category. What do you look for in the female roles that you take on?
I'm trying to find a spirit that I can relate to or channel or understand -- or further understand. When I did a film [in 2010] called Meet Monica Velour, where I played an over-the-hill pinup girl who's really on her last legs, I thought, "How can I find that within me?"
I'm trying to reflect what it is to be human, but female and living in the society that I find myself. I have a series on Netflix that I produce called Sensitive Skin, and the thing that I like about that character is she's not really a strong character; she has an inner strength, but she's grappling with that and the decisions that she's made and who she is now and time.
There are a lot of kinds of characters that I'm trying to inhabit. The main theme is really being a woman in our society. Emily French is a woman in 1923, and she's an outsider. I think that's what I understand about the characters I choose to play. As an outsider, even in America, being a British-Canadian, how can I reflect what's going on outside and inside? That journey's always interesting.
In the series, Emily criticizes the problematic boxes we put women in, saying: "When one is a woman of a certain age, one becomes subject to all manners of tedious lectures of what one should and shouldn’t be." How do you relate to her on that level?
As a woman, from the get-go, you're so objectified, and it doesn't really change.
Is that amplified in Hollywood?
I don't think it's just Hollywood -- I think it's everywhere. But I'm more curious about the human condition than about holding onto a perception. There are a lot of women who have attitudes about, say, a character like Samantha, or they blot out the cost of being Samantha, too. It's not all gravy and it's not all misery; it's trying to find that balance and the strength of character to survive.
When it comes to ageism in Hollywood, do you think it's more or less of a problem nowadays?
The truthful answer is I don't know. I don't depend on that for my work. That's why I became a producer, and that's why I work a lot in Europe. The things that I'm offered in the United States post-Sex and the City have basically been Sex and the City, and part of that is fun, but why would we be doing it? I'm so open to ideas about why I would return to Samantha and any kind of script ideas of where to continue, but they have to make sense -- they can't just be retreading.
I mean, I'm writing a thriller right now and it's really fascinating. Again, it's a very different character. And I think Witness for the Prosecution really is reflecting a mood that is prevalent all over the world -- a real mood of uncertainty. I want to feel, "Whoa, here's an opportunity" -- that I say yes to, as opposed to something that I've already done that I know I can't do any better or possibly have no more to say.
So, I take it there's not going to be another Mannequin?
February marks the 30th anniversary of Mannequin, one of your first films. How do you reflect on starring in that cult classic?
It's joyful. I'm so happy, because in England during Christmastime they show it repeatedly, and on social media you get to hear directly from people, which is such a plus. Something that I really enjoy are young women in their 20s and 30s who have a little girl and they send a picture of her sitting in front of the TV, enraptured, watching Mannequin, and they say, "I'm passing it on to the next generation." I'm very touched that it still has a place.
With the mannequin challenge being such a viral sensation, I can't think of a better time for a reboot. You in?
[Laughs] It sounds like you're in the process of recapturing your youth. You're not alone, believe me! I think the only bitter pill for me is that when I see scenes from that, I think, "Oh my gosh, such a long time ago, my god!" I look at it sometimes and think, "Is that me? Wow. That's me! That's me up there with Andrew McCarthy on the countertop in a bikini top and a sarong, dancing." It's joyous and it's wonderful, but I think, "Wow, I really did that!"
Speaking of sequels, there have been recent reports that Sex and the City 3 is happening.
Is it? I don't know.
Oh, gosh. Well, you know more than I do! [Laughs] I know nothing about any of this. I really don't. It's exciting that people want more, but again, it's like, that would be great, but what are we trying to say? I hate to be a spoilsport, but what would the next story be?
What do you think the story should be?
I have not given it any thought.
Is it even possible?
Exactly. I think that is where you start. [Laughs] What haven't we said? I think everyone, myself included, gets caught up in the excitement of going further, but what is the story? Especially after the second movie, which was met with a lot of criticism. Whether you liked it or not, the reality is, authentically -- there were not alternative facts here! -- there was backlash. The reality of what [a third movie] would be -- there's nothing concrete. There's no script, there's no idea. It doesn't mean it's not going to happen, but what would it be? I'm not saying [a third Sex and the City] doesn't exist or we can't do it, I'm saying, what is it?
What would it take for you to do it?
It would take a script and an idea that would mean something about us getting together. One of the things about getting older that I'm really noticing [is] where I want to spend my time. And I want to spend my time, at this age, playing characters this age, where I'm playing a woman who's 60, who's outside the "Hollywood box," and that takes time.
It took me 10 years to get the first season of Sensitive Skin to happen, and now we're thinking about a third season. So I want to put my energy into not covering old ground. There is fertile ground out there for stories about women my age for women my age, and even a broader audience. It takes longer when you're producing it, but it feels like an engine, like it's going in the right direction as opposed to going backward. I want to go forward.
Agatha Christie's The Witness for the Prosecution premieres Monday, Jan. 30 on Acorn TV.