Pop Culture

‘Sex and the City’ at 40 and even (gasp) 50

Early on in the new “Sex and the City” film — and don’t worry, we’re not spoiling the plot here — Carrie and longtime love Mr. Big are in bed together. A passionate interlude? Nah, they’re just reading. Except they both need glasses, and there’s only one pair.

Sharing reading glasses in bed? These two, who fogged up the small screen with their sexual chemistry during the TV series? Yes, and that small moment is a sweet acknowledgment that they’ve both aged.

As, of course, have we.

The series may be alive and well on TBS reruns. But it’s been a full decade since “Sex and the City” premiered on HBO, bringing us sex columnist Carrie, her three gal pals, and their lustful urban quest for love, good sex and even better clothes.

That means these 30-somethings who spent six seasons drinking and trysting with abandon are now 40-somethings, with a couple characters even flirting with 50. And cynics are asking: Can they pull this off? How does “Sex and the City” get around the age issue?

In interviews with The Associated Press over the weekend, the cast answered that question unanimously: It doesn’t. Age is not avoided here. It is embraced and even savored, like, well, a nice, cool Cosmopolitan.

“When we started cobbling together the movie, we knew there was only one road we could take,” said Sarah Jessica Parker, who stars as Carrie and co-produced the film. “You cannot pretend we’re 32, still running around New York drinking with liberty and looking for interesting sexual partnerships. It would have been vulgar. None of us wanted to do that.”

And so the film begins not where the series left off four years ago, but in the present. Carrie, now in her early 40s, is now a contributing editor to Vogue and a best-selling author.

She’s also got more money, and she’s got Big, who, you may recall, flew to Paris in the series finale to rescue her from a bad relationship. Now they’re in a happy place, and if you’ve seen the trailer, you know there are wedding plans afoot and a pretty amazing dress.

But you can tell things are going to be difficult, even sad. It’s a far cry from the story producers originally planned to tell four years ago, when the project stalled, at least partly because of reported demands by Kim Cattrall, who plays Samantha, for more money and creative control.

“The movie we were going to make was totally different,” said Parker, 43. “It was a romp, kind of like those Bob Hope and Bing Crosby road movies. But four years have passed, and there’s just a lot more time invested in all these relationships.”

That includes the ties between the women, said Cynthia Nixon, aka Miranda, the high-strung, hardworking lawyer who is at a breaking point when the movie begins.

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    Image: Sarah Jessica Parker

    SJP: Style, 'Sex' and success

    From her early Broadway and film career to her iconic “Sex and the City” role and fashion businesses, Sarah Jessica Parker has nearly done it all.

  • She was on Broadway at age 13, starred in a string of successful movies; won a Golden Globe for "Sex and the City"; launched fragrance and fashion lines, and she's a mom and wife. Sarah Jessica Parker has just about done it all.

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    Renaissance woman

    She was on Broadway at age 13, starred in a string of successful movies; won a Golden Globe for "Sex and the City"; launched fragrance and fashion lines, and she's a mom and wife. Sarah Jessica Parker has just about done it all.

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    Back for more adventure

    The ladies are back in fashion for "Sex and the City 2" as, from left, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) take another bite out of The Big Apple -- and beyond.

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  • Image: Actress Sarah Jessica Parker arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit in New York

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    Always dressed to impress

    Parker arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" in New York on May 3, 2010.

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    Mom and the city

    Parker walks in the West Village of New York with her son James Wilkie Broderick and one of her twin daughters on April 7, 2010.

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    Hugh and her

    Parker and Hugh Grant arrive for the Britsh premiere of their movie "Did You Hear About The Morgans?" in London in December 2009.

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    Why Wyoming?

    In "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" Parker and Grant play a New York couple who witness a murder and are put in witness protection in a small Wyoming town.

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    Fashion statement

    Parker sports flashy fashion as she films a scene for "Sex and the City 2" on location in New York in September 2009.

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  • Image: Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Wilkie Broderick , Loretta Elwell Broderick, Tabitha Hodge Broderick

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    Twinning combination

    Parker, her husband Matthew Broderick and their son, James Wilkie Broderick, pose with week-old daughters Marion Loretta Elwell Broderick, left, and Tabitha Hodge Broderick. The girls were born via a surrogate on June 22, 2009.

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    At the Oscars

    Parker arrives in a flowing white gown for the 81st Academy Awards on Feb. 22, 2009.

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    Where's the mole?

    Photographs taken at the MTV Awards in June 2008 (left) and at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July 2008 indicate that Parker had the signature mole on her chin removed between the two events. A source close to the actress confirmed on July 17, 2008, did indeed have the procedure.

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  • Parker and Broderick arrive at the New York premiere of “Sex and the City: The Movie” in May 2008.

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    Premiere night

    Parker and Broderick arrive at the New York premiere of “Sex and the City: The Movie” in May 2008.

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  • The cast of “Sex and the City” (from left, Nixon, Davis, Parker and Cattrall) reunited for the 2008 film spinoff from their successful HBO TV series.

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    Gal pals forever

    The cast of “Sex and the City” (from left, Nixon, Davis, Parker and Cattrall) reunited for the 2008 film spinoff from their successful HBO TV series.

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  • Parker and "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson share a laugh at the New York premiere of “Sex and the City: The Movie.” Hudson played Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant in the film.

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    Dream team

    Parker and "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson share a laugh at the New York premiere of “Sex and the City: The Movie.” Hudson played Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant in the film.

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  • Parker, right, arrives at the London premiere of “Sex and the City: The Movie” with (from left) co-stars Davis, Nixon and Cattrall.

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    Sex and the city (of London)

    Parker, right, arrives at the London premiere of “Sex and the City: The Movie” with (from left) co-stars Davis, Nixon and Cattrall.

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  • Parker wears a bridal gown in a scene from “Sex and the City: The Movie.”

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    Here comes the bride

    Parker wears a bridal gown in a scene from “Sex and the City: The Movie.”

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  • Riding on her success as a fashion icon, Parker launched a fashion line, Bitten, in 2007. The collection boasted dozens of items under $20.

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    Couture for everyone

    Riding on her success as a fashion icon, Parker launched a fashion line, Bitten, in 2007. The collection boasted dozens of items under $20.

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    Smart guy

    Parker co-starred with Dennis Quaid in "Smart People," a 2008 comedy-drama in which Quaid played a professor and Parker his former student.

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  • "Sex and the City" established Parker as a fashion icon (largely due to the work of stylist Patricia Field) and earned her spots on various best-dressed lists.

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    Beauty and balloons

    "Sex and the City" established Parker as a fashion icon (largely due to the work of stylist Patricia Field) and earned her spots on various best-dressed lists.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • From left, Parker, Davis, Nixon and Cattrall rocketed to fame on the HBO series "Sex and the City," adapted from a book by columnist Candace Bushnell, on whom Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw, is modeled.

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    Sexy set

    From left, Parker, Davis, Nixon and Cattrall rocketed to fame on the HBO series "Sex and the City," adapted from a book by columnist Candace Bushnell, on whom Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw, is modeled.

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    Out to 'Launch'

    In "Failure to Launch" (2006), Parker played the dream girl of a 30-year-old slacker, played by Matthew McConaughey.

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  • Parker and Broderick had their first child Oct. 28, 2002. James Wilkie was named after Broderick's father and author Wilkie Collins, a favorite writer of the couple.

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    Mother and son

    Parker and Broderick had their first child Oct. 28, 2002. James Wilkie was named after Broderick's father and author Wilkie Collins, a favorite writer of the couple.

    INFGoff.com / INFGoff.com
  • "Sex and the City" producers disguised Parker's pregnancy during an entire season through the use of artfully concealing wardrobe choices, strategically placed accessories and tight camera angles.

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    Hiding the bump

    "Sex and the City" producers disguised Parker's pregnancy during an entire season through the use of artfully concealing wardrobe choices, strategically placed accessories and tight camera angles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • At the premiere of her 2005 film "The Family Stone," Parker shared a laugh with "Sex and the City" co-star Chris Noth, who played Carrie Bradshaw's longtime love interest, Mr. Big.

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    'Big' laugh

    At the premiere of her 2005 film "The Family Stone," Parker shared a laugh with "Sex and the City" co-star Chris Noth, who played Carrie Bradshaw's longtime love interest, Mr. Big.

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  • Parker kicks up her heels with Hugh Jackman at the 58th Annual Tony Awards.

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    Tony-ing up

    Parker kicks up her heels with Hugh Jackman at the 58th Annual Tony Awards.

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  • Parker counts two Emmy Awards among her "Sex and the City" accolades, one of which she won in 2004 after the show's final season.

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    Award winner

    Parker counts two Emmy Awards among her "Sex and the City" accolades, one of which she won in 2004 after the show's final season.

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  • Parker unveiled her fragrance, Lovely, in 2005. It was so successful that she followed it up with a second fragrance, Covet, in 2007.

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    Sweet smell of success

    Parker unveiled her fragrance, Lovely, in 2005. It was so successful that she followed it up with a second fragrance, Covet, in 2007.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Parker won four Golden Globes in 2004 for her role as New York sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City."

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    Global warmth

    Parker won four Golden Globes in 2004 for her role as New York sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City."

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  • Russian-born dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov portrayed Carrie Bradshaw’s moody artist boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky in the final season of "Sex and the City."

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    From Russia with love

    Russian-born dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov portrayed Carrie Bradshaw’s moody artist boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky in the final season of "Sex and the City."

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  • Reportedly reluctant to return to television, Parker struck gold in 1998 when she accepted the role of Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City," an HBO series based on the book by former New York Observer columnist Candace Bushnell.

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    Striking gold

    Reportedly reluctant to return to television, Parker struck gold in 1998 when she accepted the role of Carrie Bradshaw in "Sex and the City," an HBO series based on the book by former New York Observer columnist Candace Bushnell.

    HBO via Getty Images / HBO via Getty Images
  • Parker married Broderick, star of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," in 1997. The couple, shown here at a fashion show in Rome, tied the knot in a New York civil ceremony.

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    Bueller and beauty

    Parker married Broderick, star of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," in 1997. The couple, shown here at a fashion show in Rome, tied the knot in a New York civil ceremony.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • "Hocus Pocus" featured Parker, right, as one of three 17th-century witches from Salem, Mass., who are unwittingly transported to present-day Los Angeles. The 1993 film also starred Kathy Najimi, left, and Bette Midler, center.

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    Which witch is which?

    "Hocus Pocus" featured Parker, right, as one of three 17th-century witches from Salem, Mass., who are unwittingly transported to present-day Los Angeles. The 1993 film also starred Kathy Najimi, left, and Bette Midler, center.

  • Parker met Robert Downey Jr. on the set of the 1984 film "Firstborn." The pair lived together through his reported substance abuse problem, then broke up in 1991.

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    Ups and downs with Downey

    Parker met Robert Downey Jr. on the set of the 1984 film "Firstborn." The pair lived together through his reported substance abuse problem, then broke up in 1991.

    WireImage / WireImage
  • Parker co-starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the 1992 comedy "Honeymoon in Vegas."

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    What happened in Vegas

    Parker co-starred alongside Nicolas Cage in the 1992 comedy "Honeymoon in Vegas."

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  • In 1982 Parker (left) was cast in the high-school TV sitcom “Square Pegs.” Although Parker garnered positive reviews, the series, which also featured Jamie Gertz, center, and Amy Linker, lasted just one season.

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    'Square' one

    In 1982 Parker (left) was cast in the high-school TV sitcom “Square Pegs.” Although Parker garnered positive reviews, the series, which also featured Jamie Gertz, center, and Amy Linker, lasted just one season.

    CBS via Courtesy Everett Collection / CBS via Courtesy Everett Collection
  • In 1977, Parker joined the Broadway musical “Annie” in a minor role. Parker succeeded Andrea McArdle, second from left, and Shelley Bruce, right, in the title role on March 6, 1979. (Allison Smith, second from right, later assumed the role.) Parker performed as Annie for a year.

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    The hard knock life

    In 1977, Parker joined the Broadway musical “Annie” in a minor role. Parker succeeded Andrea McArdle, second from left, and Shelley Bruce, right, in the title role on March 6, 1979. (Allison Smith, second from right, later assumed the role.) Parker performed as Annie for a year.

    AP / AP

“We were all aware, partly because of the big screen but also because we’re older, that there has to be a maturity there with the way we confront problems,” Nixon said. “So when Miranda and Carrie fight, they take a little distance and try and work it out.”

Maturity can be seen in the clothes as well. “Were we still wearing these crazy outfits from 10 years ago, that would look wildly inappropriate,” Nixon mused. But relax, fashionistas: Fabulous clothes still have their place.

“We do have fantastic clothes and shoes, that hasn’t changed,” noted Kristin Davis, who plays Charlotte, the Park Avenue socialite who’s found domestic contentment with her good-natured husband, Harry, and their adopted Chinese daughter. “But we couldn’t pretend that time didn’t pass. Our point is to tell it like it is.”

The best example of that is Cattrall’s Samantha Jones, whose frank expressions of her lusty desires always made her character seem larger than life. But Samantha also suffered the worst hardship of all the women: breast cancer, in the show’s last season.

Cattrall is 51, and in the series it was hinted, but never stated explicitly, that Samantha was older than her pals. In the film, her age is revealed, even celebrated, and in a poignant way.

“For a Hollywood movie that’s extraordinary,” said Cattrall. “But I think it’s the way the show has always been. Whether it’s aging or sex or dating or disease or 9/11, it’s been met head on.”

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    Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

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    Actor Nick Kroll arrives at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    Actors Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson arrive at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    James D'Arcy arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

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    TV personality Nicole Murphy and singer Brandy Norwood attend The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

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And Cattrall knows her performance is influenced by her own aging process. “A lot of things have happened in the last four years, and they haven’t all been great,” she said, referring to her divorce and her father’s diagnosis of dementia. “And it shades what you do. It shades who you are.”

With nobody left to represent the younger set, Michael Patrick King, who directed and wrote the film (and co-produced it with Parker), brought in Jennifer Hudson, the 26-year-old Oscar winner from “Dreamgirls,” to play Carrie’s tech-savvy assistant. Parker said the purpose of the new role is “to reflect what that time of life is all about, how you feel about love, and how simple it is then.”

To Hudson, that makes sense. “Now there’s another kind of character the audience can relate to,” she said, also noting that she’s the first major black character to figure in the story.

Aging is not just a female process, of course, and Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth, has a little added gravitas now, perhaps a few gray hairs, and a more mature approach to romance (To a point. This is Big, after all.) Noth, 53, seems thrilled that the film is presenting a set of mature characters.

“Where did the notion come from that the lives of adults are less interesting than the lives of those under 30?” he asked. “I actually think the movie has MORE relevance. I think the girls look better. And I’m just happy that we have some adult entertainment here.

“We’ve strayed so far in our culture, it’s like, you know, can kiddie time be over?”

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