From her career-defining role as the much-loved Samantha Jones in Sex And The City to her theatrical turns in the likes of Anthony and Cleopatra and Private Lives, to her latest project Sensitive Skin, Kim Cattrall is passionate about the importance of telling stories that actually reflect female experience - rather than just re-hashing tired old ‘two-dimensional’ stereotypes of “a woman my age who’s wanting to sleep with a hot young thing,” as she puts it herself.
It’s for this reason that Cattrall fought to get Sensitive Skin, originally a BBC Two black comedy, remade for HBO. As well as lending her expertise as executive producer, Kim stars as Davina, a 50-something woman who is attempting to navigate the ‘unchartered waters’ of middle age.
“Her life has been a certain way for so long […] I thought, ‘Wow, this is a story about a woman who went right instead of left during her life, and now she’s examining that,’ and well, I’m examining that in my life, too,” she explains.
How she picks her roles
“When I was younger, I just wanted the experience of getting in front of the camera, but now, especially as a producer, I look at projects and think ‘What do I want to say? Does this talk to me?’ When I first saw the BBC version of Sensitive Skin, I was really taken aback because it was a story I had never seen told, that was interesting, unique and original. I'm not looking to play a stock character of a woman my age who's wanting to sleep with a hot young thing; none of that really interests me. I'm interested in self-reflection, especially in my work as a producer."
WATCH: Kim Cattrall discusses Samantha Jones' best scenes (story continues after video)
Why we don’t often see an older woman's story told on screen
“If it does get told, it’s so two dimensional. You'll either see women as dowdy and masculine looking, or obsessed with plastic surgery and you think ‘Urgh, there’s got to be more to it than that.’
“I think we still need more [opportunities]; I think we need to go deeper with some of them, and that's why Sensitive Skin has been so important to me. We need more stories about women this age; it will help younger women understand more about getting older, and inform the decisions that they're making now."
On breaking down gender barriers
“We need more female writers to tell those stories. Women’s stories should be a reflection, as they were in Sex and the City. We had a lot of female writers in the room, so the storylines were the self-examination of what those writers were dealing with. It's been fascinating for me to be in a show and also produce it - my collaborators are two men, and though we never cross swords, there have been times when I am so clear in the discussion [about my character, about female experience] but for them, it still feels like an enigma. That's part of the battle, part of the reason for telling a story - to break down those gender barriers and make it a human story rather than 'just' a woman's story."
The secret behind SATC’s longevity
“It's really well written. The first story you hear is Cinderella, and you spend the rest of your life trying to get rid of the programming of that story in your head: who are you if you're not married? Who are you if you're not a mother? Who are you if you're not an aunt? The stories that we tell have to have some kind of staying power. There are so many things that you'll forgive as a viewer, but ultimately it's not going to last, it's not going to resonate if the writing is not good.”
This story originally appeared on Grazia Daily.