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‘Sex’ star Cynthia Nixon on her cancer, girlfriend

Cynthia Nixon has the most dramatic moments in the new “Sex and the City” movie — and, as a breast cancer survivor who has gone public about her female partner, Nixon has had the most dramatic changes in her life of the film’s stars.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Cynthia Nixon’s “Sex and the City” character, Miranda, arguably has the most dramatic moments in the much-ballyhooed “Sex” movie, which opened Friday. And maybe that’s appropriate, because of the film’s four stars, it’s Nixon who may have had the most dramatic changes in her life since the hit HBO show ended in 2003.

Not only has the actress gone public with her new female partner, she’s also a breast cancer survivor. “I think I’m doing great,” Nixon told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira on Friday, from the Top of the Rock observation deck at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Nixon, 42, found out she had a small lump in her breast about 18 months ago. But she started having mammograms when she was 35 because her mother is the survivor of two bouts of breast cancer.

“I think I was able to keep it in perspective about how, if you’re lucky and if you handle it and do the right thing, it really can be a blip on the screen,” she said.

Nixon has consistently downplayed her own diagnosis, pointing out the size of the lump and the fact that she required only six and a half weeks of radiation and no chemotherapy. But she does speak loudly about the importance of early testing and annual mammograms, as a spokesperson for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

She also was up front about her health situation with her two young children — Samantha, 11, and Charlie, 5.

“I really wanted them to know what was happening,” Nixon said. “Because you hear people whispering, you sense that there is something going on.

“Not only did we talk to them about it, but we actually brought them in to the doctor’s office to talk to the surgeon who was going to perform my surgery. I think it was so reassuring to hear a professional from outside, talking about statistics and how really this is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.”

A new friendNixon said she had great support from her new girlfriend, education activist Christine Marinoni. The couple surprised many by revealing their relationship in 2004. Nixon had ended a 15-year relationship with Danny Mozes, the father of their two children, in 2003.

The actress met Marinoni, the former New York City director of Alliance for Quality Education, while taking up the cause to fight budget cuts at Samantha’s school. They quietly began dating in 2003. Nixon has said that Marinoni and her children have become a “regular family” over the past four years — with son Charlie often referring to either woman as “Mom.”

But while the situation at home may be comfortable, Nixon acknowledged to Vieira concern about the initial reaction outside. “You know, I did worry,” the actress said. “I wondered about how much of a maelstrom there would be — and there was quite a one, but luckily it was over very quickly.

“I think I got asked the question ‘Is this true?’ and I said, ‘Yes, it is.’ Once you’ve said, ‘Yes, it is,’ it’s kind of like … what more is there to say, really? So it’s died down and it’s just sort of been accepted, I think, in a nice way.”

Art and life
Nixon, who was born in New York City, had an increasingly steady work stream before dramatically raising her profile by landing her defining role on “Sex and the City” in 1998. She had her first major film support role in 1986’s “Manhattan Project” and added credits in “Addams Family Values” (1993) and “Marvin’s Room” (1996).

Nixon had several television projects, including HBO’s “Tanner ’88,” but also gained acclaim as a stage actress, portraying Juliet in a 1988 New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Romeo and Juliet.” She would land roles in six Broadway shows before getting the chance to play Miranda Hobbes — a part that would land her an Emmy Award in 2004 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

The character is the best friend of lead character Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Miranda started as a career-minded lawyer with a forever-skeptical view on relationships and men.

But as the show progressed, viewers got to see the softening of Miranda as she fell in love with Brooklyn bartender Steve Brady (who is also in the film, once again played by David Eigenberg) and struggled to balance her love for her work with motherhood.

Vieira noted that Nixon’s portrayal of Miranda accounts for some of the most dramatic scenes in the new “Sex and the City” film. “It’s a very rough time in her marriage,” Nixon agreed. Referring to a scene in which the outspoken Samantha points out that Miranda has forgotten to wax, Nixon said, “I think it’s emblematic of how she’s forgotten to think about herself.

“She finds herself in a position that I think so many women do nowadays. They’re just overextended. She’s being a mother, a wife, running a household, having a sick parent and having a very demanding job. And she’s just in a million pieces and she just feels like she’s failing at everything because there’s just not enough of her to go around.”

And just where exactly does Miranda Hobbes end and Cynthia Nixon begin?

“I have certain things in common with her,” Nixon said. “I think we both kind of operate from our head, and our heart follows.

“But she is far more confrontational than I am. I seek to avoid conflict — although she has taught me to speak up more than I did before I was walking around in Miranda’s shoes.”