Sex and the City’s Mario Cantone pays tribute to Willie Garson after moving final scenes

Mario Cantone and Willie Garson as Anthony and Stanford.

As Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That… bids farewell to Willie Garson’s Stanford, Mario Cantone, who plays Anthony, has paid his own tribute.

Garson passed away from pancreatic cancer in September aged 57. He is survived by his son Nathen.

At the time of his death, the actor had been reprising his role of Stanford in HBO Max’s And Just Like That…

Warning – mild spoiler.

His sudden exit from the show is explained away in episode four, which dropped Thursday (23 December), with Stanford announcing that he’d left husband Anthony – and soulmate Carrie – in a note.

In real life, Garson was due to be a major part of the Sex and the City reboot, but his health took a turn for the worse after he’d filmed the first three episodes.

Speaking to Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast on Sirius XM, Mario Cantone praised Garson’s “brilliant” performance.

“He’s so alive, brilliant, and hilarious in this,” he said.

Cantone described Garson’s death as a “real shock”. Though he’d shared his diagnosis with close friend Sarah Jessica Parker, much of the cast were oblivious.

“None of us knew, and it was just, it was terrible, very sad,” Cantone said. “And he was an incredible father to his son, Nathen, that’s all he talked about was Nathen. He loved him very much. Nathen is 18 years old.”

Cantone added: “I miss him. He made me laugh so hard. He was a great TV husband… He was loved, and he was brilliant and hilarious. He was everything. I miss him a lot.”

Sarah Jessica Parker has also opened up about losing Garson. She said it was “fraught” knowing that her friend was ill, and worried about him working on a busy set amid the pandemic.

“I couldn’t share that with anybody,” she told Vulture. “I’d only keep track of him, and I felt responsible in some ways for his health, his well-being on the set.

“Anytime there was downtime, I sat with him and talked with him. He really was a raconteur, a famously gifted storyteller. We could hear the same story over and over again as if it were the first time, and he was terrifically good at documenting his life and sharing it with us.”

Garson told the rest of the cast about his diagnosis as they were filming episode two, which is dedicated to Big’s funeral. Shortly after, he informed them that he had to bow out.

“If Willie could be there and do one more episode or one more scene, he would have done it,” Parker added.

“But he knew what he needed to do to take care of his son and of himself, and I am so glad that he did that because when he passed away, he wanted to do so in an environment and circumstance that made him feel safe and comfortable.”

This week’s And Just Like That… ended with the simple dedication: “In memory of our beloved Willie Garson.”