Sarah Jessica Parker almost turned down Carrie, and 6 other fascinating Sex and the City facts
To say fans were excited about Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That… would be the understatement of the year.
For many, Sex and the City was an unprecedented window into sexual liberation when it landed on HBO all the way back in 1998.
In the two decades since, we’ve come to terms with the fact that the show didn’t always get everything right – but there’s no denying it was influential.
To mark the return of Sex and the City with the new HBO Max reboot And Just Like That…, we bring you 10 fascinating facts about the show’s original run you probably never knew.
1. Sarah Jessica Parker almost turned it down
Sarah Jessica Parker was considered the ideal actress to play Carrie Bradshaw – right from the get-go, Darren Star wanted her to play the lead.
Casting directors Kanner and Gray also wanted her, but she didn’t want to do a series at the time, apparently – she was more focused on film projects.
That led to Ellie Kanner having a long conversation with Parker’s agent where she sold him on the project, detailing how great the pilot was.
According to Kanner, what cinched it for Parker in the end was that they are willing to film in New York and they were only going to do 13 episodes.
2. Kim Cattrall passed on Sex and the City ‘like five times’
Playing Samantha made Kim Cattrall an icon to a whole new generation – but she wasn’t originally sold on the role. She ended up being the last person to join the cast.
“I think she was with [the agency] William Morris at the time,” Kanner told Cosmopolitan. “And she passed, like five times. She wasn’t into it. And we were like, ‘No, you don’t understand, Darren wants to meet her. We have to make this happen.’
Kanner and Gray worked “very hard” to set up a meeting between Star and Cattrall, and she agreed to do a “one-time read with the network”.
“I do remember Kim Cattrall was on our original list and after massive amounts of phone calls back and forth and Ellie begging, some ridiculous 12, 13 weeks later, Kim Cattrall came in and got the part,” Gray said.
“It was funny, it was kind of ironically humorous. She was the first person on our list for Samantha and she’s the last person cast in the role. It was a long period of time.”
3. Carrie is based on real-life writer Candace Bushnell – but it’s not all true to life
Candace Bushnell in April 2021. (William Thomas Cain/Getty)
Most Sex and the City fans will know that Carrie Bradshaw is based on the writer Candace Bushnell, who wrote a column about sex for the New York Observer in the 1990s. Her writings were later published as an essay collection titled Sex and the City, which in turn provided the foundation for the television show.
What people might not know is that Carrie isn’t necessarily totally true to life. Bushnell started writing about a character called Carrie and her friends as it wasn’t always easy writing about her experiences under her own name.
Carrie is probably best described as a semi-fictional version of Candace – parts of their lives are the same, but the character offered the real-life writer a chance to write about sexuality without any qualms.
4. Mr Big was only supposed to be a guest role
The original plan was that Mr Big, played so brilliantly by Chris Noth, would be a guest role that might recur from time to time – but the actor quickly captured the hearts of fans when he appeared on the show.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan in 2018, casting directors Ellie Kanner and Russell Gray said Noth wasn’t supposed to be a series regular at the start.
“I think we hired him as a guest star in that first episode and said he cold recur. He wasn’t a series regular,” Kanner said.
“He just owned that role,” Gray added. “He became that role. They wrote more for him. But in the pilot, I mean, it’s a great scene, an absolutely fantastic scene, in the limousine, where he says the line: ‘Absof**kinglutely.'”
5. He was inspired by one of Candace’s exes
Mr Big wasn’t dreamed up – he was actually based on a real person Bushnell dated for a year in the 1990s.
The famous character was based on publishing executive Ron Galotti, Bushnell has said. He was there when she was first approached to write a book based on her columns.
Mr Big and Galotti weren’t exactly the same – they had entirely different careers. However, they were similar in other ways. Both Mr Big and Galotti married three times, for example.
New York Magazine once described Galotti as a “serial monogamist” – he was apparently known for dating a lot of different women for prolonged periods of time.
6. Carrie Bradshaw’s famous opening credits tutu almost didn’t make the cut
Sex and the City‘s opening credits are instantly recognisable – and that’s in no small part thanks to Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic tutu.
The famous opening credits show Carrie, sporting a pink tutu, getting splashed with water from a puddle while walking through New York City.
However, Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field had a hard job convincing the show’s creator Darren Star that the tutu was a good idea. She found the item in a bucket at a showroom – it cost just $5.
Sarah Jessica Parker loved it, but Star did not. When they went to film the opening credits, they still hadn’t decided on an outfit, so they shot a few different versions – including one with Parker wearing the tutu.
By a stroke of luck, the tutu won out – Star must have seen the light in the end, and the rest is history.
7. An alternate version of the opening credits was released in 2017
Before Star agreed that the tutu was the best way forward, he was convinced the opening credits should show Carrie walking through New York wearing a plain blue dress.
It’s not exactly the most inspiring look in the world – which is probably why Star finally acquiesced once he saw the version of Carrie in the tutu.
In the original blue dress version, Carrie trips while walking along a pavement. Beside her is parked a bus with an advert for her column, which she looks at before walking away smiling.
The alternate version was released by Entertainment Weekly in 2017 – and longtime fans were delighted to see the original clip.
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