As Sex and the City turns 20, ET is taking a look back at the iconic series through the eyes of its stars -- way back at the show’s 1998 premiere!
In old footage from the series' New York City launch, lead stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis filled ET in on the landmark comedy before it became religious viewing to millions around the globe.
“It's very candid, it's forthright, it's a little ribald, a little saucy,” said the now-53-year-old Parker, who played Carrie Bradshaw and is now a married mom of three. “But I think, in many instances, it's conversations that women have, and I think it's very courageous and fresh.”
“I think it'll find its audience, I really do,” added Cattrall, who played Samantha Jones. “People who have heard about the scripts and heard about the premise really are embracing it, and I think it'll find an audience. It's not for everybody, but I think that's what makes it special and controversial. It's on HBO!”
Nixon, who played Miranda Hobbes, shared that what excited her about the show’s premise was that was it was “so frank” and addressed topics rarely talked about it on television, while Davis, who portrayed Charlotte York, chimed in that it was nice to have a “smart comedy” coming out.
“A comedy that doesn't offend anyone, that doesn't play to the lowest common denominator, that has some basis in reality, but is also funny,” she explained. “We don't want people to be depressed. It's depressing enough, the dating life. Don't want people to go, 'Oh, God! That's depressing.'”
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Chris Noth, who played fan favorite “Mr Big,” predicted the show, which ran for six seasons and spawned two movies, would “knock sitcoms on their ass.”
Parker, who wore Christian Dior and Prada to the premiere, shared how she was familiar with Candace Bushnell, who wrote the 1997 book that inspired the show, and became intrigued by her “really provocative subject matter.”
While Parker noted she hadn’t spent much time dating in New York City herself, Cattrall joked that just like her alter ego, she had experienced “countless” conquests and that “there’s a little bit of Samantha Jones in all of us.”
Cattrall, now 61, also said she believed the show was a good reflection of the Big Apple’s dating scene.
“I think that's what makes Sex and the City a little bit different,” said Cattrall. “It really speaks to women who are in the dating game now, in the '90s, in New York or any major city in the United States, any small town in the United States. The episodes are truthful, the dialogue is truthful. All the situations that [you] come across being single in your thirties in America.”
“It’s pretty risqué,” added Davis, noting that she saw the series more as a “heightened” reality. “I don't know people who do all these things. I know people who do some of them, but it's like we got all the stuff we could think of and packed it in. So, it's a little heightened. A little bigger than life, but still real, which is a little scary.”
Much of the inspiration for plotlines came from show creator Darren Star’s own life. Star, who had previously worked on Melrose Place, admitted his single female friends constantly gave him story ideas.
“I hear a lot of stories from them, and this is some of their stories,” he dished. “It's exaggerated, it's a comedy. Some people might think it's a tragedy, but it's a comedy. It's a dark comedy, and I think there's a certain amount of truth to it, but I think it's fun to see a certain situation that might appear tragic on one end, but you can laugh at it on the other.”
While some of the lead actresses would eventually find themselves caught up in rumored feuds and fights over the years, at the time of the premiere, the ladies were having a blast in each other’s company.
“It's fabulous! It's like 'the ladies who lunch,'” enthused Cattrall about working with her co-stars. “All the scenes we had where we were eating, chocolate chip cookies at 3:00 in the morning -- we were really shooting at 3:00 in the morning and eating chocolate chip cookies and dishing. It was a blast.”
“It's great!” added Nixon, who married Christine Marinoni in 2012, has three children and is now running for governor of New York. . “Particularly when all four of us are in the hair and makeup trailer, getting ourselves done and running lines. It's a blast.”
Then, of course, there was the fun the ladies had with all the hunky men on the show…
“What's nice about it for us as actresses is it's kind of a reversal,” said Davis, who reportedly adopted her second child in May. “All the guest stars are guys and they're all really good looking. So, when we do the readthroughs, the four of us sit together and we just watch. They come through and they leave and they come back, and it's a lot of fun! Some of them are nice guys and then they do stupid things, just like we do. We're not perfect. And then some of them are kind of jerky guys, but there's a lot of them, too.”
Davis, now 53, hilariously added that she was hoping Sex and the City would help her shed some of the haters she had attracted after playing evil Brooke on Melrose Place. Luckily for the actress, 20 years later she’s undeniably known best for her role as Charlotte!
“I'm thrilled about the differences between the two characters, and I hope that it will affect the way people respond to me on the street, because people are still mad at me about Melrose,” she said. “They just can't quite get over it. Brooke, you know, she was bad. She was a bad girl. But Charlotte's a nice girl, so [I'll] hopefully get a little balance.”