Mario Cantone Recalls Emotional Return to 'And Just Like That' Set After Willie Garson's Death (Exclusive)

The 'And Just Like That' actor also recalls filming his divorce scene before his co-star and on-screen husband's death.

Mario Cantone is reflecting on his time filming And Just Like That and saying goodbye to the late Willie Garson. Cantone's Anthony Marentino and Garson's Stanford Blatch had quite the journey in the couple of episodes they were together before Garson devastating death. The actor opened up about being on set the day after Garson died, and filming his divorce scene with Sarah Jessica Parker.

"It was very sad, and it was filmed before Willie passed. But we knew it was not good, so it was sad," Cantone told ET's Rachel Smith.

Garson, who played Carrie Bradshaw's best friend, had been battling pancreatic cancer and died in September at 57 years old. In the Sex and the City revival, Stanford abruptly decides to divorce Anthony and move to Tokyo to manage a 17-year-old TikTok star. Anthony is the one to tell all this to Carrie.

"I came in the day after he passed away, and that was real hard. That was the day we did the plastic surgery scene with Jonathan Groff, who was magnificent and he is just wonderful. I just adore him. So that was a hard day," Cantone recalled. "That was the hardest day, and Sarah really took care of me like a mother. She just took me out of the room because it was hard."

"But yeah, she's the No. 1 and she just kind of takes care of you," he said. "We just kind of all huddled together and loved each other and moved on, and we had to keep going and do this thing."

The show's executive producer, writer and director Michael Patrick King recently revealed the original plans for Garson's character before his passing. King told Variety that Stanford was going to be in all 10 episodes of season 1 of the revival, with him having "a midlife crisis" and him and Anthony having some problems along the way.

"I think you were going to see a relationship that was very turbulent," Cantone told ET about what he believed the continued storyline would have been between the two. "It's turbulent arguments, but I think it was supposed to be -- I don’t really know exactly -- but it was supposed to be me dealing with his craziness, and having to calm him, and talk him out of things, and mend things."

"But it’s a very turbulent relationship, very argumentative," he continued. "But yet, we can’t live without each other. That was what that was supposed to be."

When asked what he enjoyed most about working with Garson over the years, he expressed, "He's just truly a raconteur, his storytelling is brilliant, he's hilarious."

"But I’m usually the one that’s like, you know, doing my thing, being crazy on set," he continued. "And I can sit back and just watch him go off. He’s hilarious and he lived in L.A., we didn’t see each other a lot, but we would do Zoom readings and we would always be texting each other and talking crap about things and situations. So yeah, but he's really missed."

Cantone, meanwhile, "loved" reprising his role, sharing that King "did a brilliant job! And selfishly, my stuff is glorious. It is never enough for me!"

He personally felt like he satisfied the fans, noting, "'Cause I’m funny and I’m good and I did a hell of a job. And you know, I feel like people are so married to this show and everyone has their opinions, and there’s the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful."

However, he did admit that on his first day returning as Anthony his nerves got the best of him.

"My first day, oh my god, I kept messing up my take and [Kristin Davis] kept saying, 'I gotcha, I gotcha.' And she just kept nodding, 'You got it,' and we sailed through it," he admitted, sharing that the nerves came from "stepping back into" his character but in a more "evolved" way.

"He is still honest, but he has evolved. He is not as mean as he used to be, he [has] definitely grown a lot, and the exciting thing is I got to be in Carrie's life and Charlotte’s life," he said. "And I always said, Willie and I -- may he rest in peace and I miss him so much and it was a hard thing -- I was in Carrie's life. [Stanford and Anthony] were married seven years ago in the last movie, so of course we walked into her husband's funeral together. So being put into her life and having all of that scene work with Sara Jessica Parker was thrilling."

The season finale of And Just Like That and the documentary stream Thursday, Feb. 3 on HBO Max.



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