Kim Cattrall: Sweeter Than Heaven and Tougher Than Hell
It was all planned out. Kim Cattrall had started the PR-Tour for her new network series Filthy Rich – she is not only playing the lead but also a full producer – with the Upfronts and was going into a heavy interview-schedule from coast to coast with a premiere date set for Spring. She plays the wife of a Southern televangelist who owns her own TV station. Gerald McRaney plays her husband. As they were gearing up for more PR, Corona hit. She was in New York when the virus first put an end to everyone’s plans. Now, three months later, she speaks to us from her home on Vancouver Island where she has been quarantining with her boyfriend Russ Thomas, who works for the BBC.
How are you dealing with everything?
It breaks any illusion that you have any control, over your career especially. You take chances, you put yourself out there, but luck and faith have a big role. And that is a reminder: don’t get too attached or your expectations up to where you’re going to be and what you’re going to be doing. And also, to do the right thing and be empathetic to people around you and especially those who are much less equipped to take care of themselves. So, it’s been a big lesson in letting go and letting things progress at their own speed.
How are you feeling?
It feels like a vacation but it’s not. And it’s nice when you reconnect with your family but not everyone has that. And I have been mentoring a few young people in New York and some have had a very tough time, being alone. But not being able to hold somebody, to see them in person is really hard. Young people are social. Not that I am not social, but I am going to be 64 in August, and I was used to going out maybe two or three times a week, not every day. Not being able to have a graduation and celebrate that milestone, I feel for them. If I had to go through this in my 20s, I would have had a very difficult time.
And in terms of the work?
We made a show, we had a great time, we told a really interesting, fresh story, a fresh character for me, a very talented cast and a director (Tate Taylor) and executive producers that care and a group of people that really work together which happens when you’re on location. You get to know each other better. And spending time in New Orleans! Russ and I have gotten very used to the routine we had there for seven months.
The show will now come out in the fall…
And it is the right time for it because there isn’t a lot of new content coming out by then because productions had to shut down. We were already done.
Most of us have only seen the trailer, can you describe Filthy Rich and your character for us?
I play a woman who possesses that most feminine of qualities – balls! The character is sweeter than heaven and tougher than hell. They call her the ‘Immaculate Deception’. She’s very ballsy but it’s very covert. It comes disguised as niceness and then she turns, and you see what’s really going on. It’ a wonderful character to be so hidden with an agenda. And so purposeful about what she needs and what she wants and her being so fiercely protective of her family and the empire she has built. She is really a delicious character and I enjoy playing her. And the show has that Dallas/Falcon Crest luxury to it. With people that look and act a certain way but act differently behind closed doors. With a lot of wicked and subtle humor. There’s a lot of comedy.
Do you hope that the show will upset a lot of evangelicals?
I think that is Tate’s intention because he is from the South, and he’s seen all of this world up close and personal. He wanted to do this in a very smart, ironic way and let you decide. I like being ahead of an audience because they don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
If it gets renewed and the social distancing rules are still in place when you start shooting, how will that work?
With our storyline, a six-foot distance could be difficult, but that goes for any TV show. We have ten episodes which means we have ten weeks from the time it starts airing to possibly start filming again with whatever new restrictions are in place then. Maybe it will be two feet and 50 people in a room and the tests will be more accessible. It’s anyone’s guess.
Have you been in contact with the cast?
We had a Zoom call and it was so good seeing everybody. I really hope we get to shoot again.
You mentioned your age – which, first of all, is unbelievable, you look at least 20 years younger – but it also makes you a rarity among your peers where most women hide their age or lie about it. What makes you so open?
I grew up with women in my family that raised me in a way that I never thought getting older was something negative, quite the opposite. I always thought getting older means getting better, having more life experience. All my life I’ve loved to travel, I’ve moved around a lot and that has given me more than I could learn from books and it has made me much more open. So, I don’t see age as anything but an attribute. And I don’t know what’s going to happen in ten years but right now I am so enjoying getting to play these characters in my sixties that I hadn’t gotten to play in my fifties. I remember doing a Chekhov play when I was in my twenties and there was an actress playing a much older character, and she said “You know, I played your character, Irina, when I was young. And then I played Masha and then Olga.” All within the same play! Nothing in nature stays still, it must get older. And for my own sanity, I don’t want to fight that, I want to embrace it.
How do you do that?
I want to in some ways reinterpret it. And to be in my sixties and have a career, to be on a new show on network television, to be on Broadway, there is still great material there if you look and wait for it. I am proudly reaching this stage. And having been in a show that deals with ageism in a way, for my character Samantha on Sex and the City who said “I’m fifty and I’m fabulous!”, she had to say that. It was not a given. Because of shows like that we were redefining what age is. I am not interested in being a poster girl, but I am interested in enlightening and illuminating what this decade is.
But isn’t that tough in a Hollywood that still does not offer enough for women after 40?
Yes, and what you say yes to is in that context, in what’s available. Because in your late thirties it starts to disappear, and the competition is really out there for good roles. There are so many actresses that are not working anymore. So, I feel very fortunate. And being a Producer now is very exciting because I have a voice within the story that I am a part of and that is very gratifying as well.
I saw the ad campaign…
Yes, the one where I’m in this gold vibrant, sparkly dress and wearing a yellow cleaning glove and I’m holding a Martini filled with olives.
It puts Samantha Jones to shame?