It's the perfect time to get back together; Liverpool-born actress Kim Cattrall reprises her most famous role as she returns to the big screen in one of the most eagerly-awaited films of the year. Emma Johnson reports.
AS MANHATTAN maneater Samantha Jones, she changed the way women were perceived.
Sexually voracious, fiercely independent and full of filthy one-liners, TV viewers had never seen anyone like her, but jumping into Samantha's power suits and dozens of men's beds did not come easily for Liverpool-born actress Kim Cattrall.
In fact, she turned the role down more than once.
"Some of the scripts terrified me," she confesses. "I'd just turned 40 when I started the series and I didn't know if I could play such a sexual, crazed woman because I believe that all those years ago - which is not that many years ago, really - people really did believe that women in their 40s weren't very sexy and that women in their 20s and 30s were really beautiful because in their close-up they were perfect and gorgeous and young and desirable."
Now, as women the world over anxiously count down the days to the most eagerly anticipated film opening of all time, Kim is as excited as the rest of us about Sex and the City the Movie. And at 51, the former St Edmunds College girl feels she has a whole new perception of herself.
"What I'm now discovering - and I'm now in another decade - is that, the older I get, the more I have my self-knowledge which makes me feel more sexy. There's nothing like confidence and feeling that I don't have to prove myself, I feel comfortable in my skin, I'm not a size two and I can forget about it.
"My life is mine and that I think is a very sexy thing to own.
I didn't have that initially when I was in the series, so when all of this attention sort of happened specifically to this character about sex I found it kind of overwhelming."
With rumours of fall-outs and a number of false starts, it has taken four years to get Sex and the City to the big screen, but Kim believes it would not have been right to rush straight into a cinematic release.
"All of us had gone in our different directions, had different life paths and leaving the show was really, really hard. It was a very difficult time in my personal life. So I was trying to put a lot of things together," she explains.
"I'm glad that we didn't do the movie right away, because I don't think we would have had any kind of perspective about what was happening to us and what was about to happen. I think it was the perfect time to get back together and do this."
Having worked on a number of films and won acclaim for her West End turns in plays like Daniel Mamet's The Cryptogram, Kim was most recently seen with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the period drama, My Boy Jack. So how was it getting back to being Samantha?
"God, it was so fabulous - it was easy and fun," Kim offers.
"The most difficult thing was the first day, there were so many crowds on the street and they were screaming and yelling and it kind of broke my concentration and I was overwhelmed a little bit, as I think all of us were.
"I didn't know what to expect and someone screaming in the middle of a scene 'I love you, Samantha!' or 'Carrie, I'm over here!' is distracting and we had never really dealt with that. But we were kind of asking for it because we were shooting on Park Avenue in September, and the city was packed."
Although those who have seen it have been sworn to secrecy, we do know that SATC the movie picks up three years after the series ended; Carrie - it appears - is finally happy with Big, Miranda is still adjusting to life in the suburbs, Charlotte is bringing up her adopted daughter, and Samantha has abandoned New York to be with her actor toyboy Smith in LA.
Kim is not up for giving much more away, but says that women everywhere will be able to relate to the film's themes just as they did the series.
"I think there is something so powerful and potent about it," she says. "And I think it's because these four characters are really very truthful. I think there is a lot more truth than a lot of women have seen before about what it means to be a girl, a woman, in the world, in society.
And it's kind of exciting to be a part of that."
AS FOR Samantha, she turns the big 5-0. "I really love the fact that, in a big Hollywood movie about women, that one of them is turning 50. I think that's never been done before," says Kim.
"I'm really proud to be part of something that allows that to happen. In the series, Samantha always lied about her age and here you see her at the beginning of the film, she's given up her home city, she's given up her business, she's starting all over again, as a sign of faith to be monogamous to this man (boyfriend Smith Jerrod)."
That Kim returns to the subject of age is interesting, particularly given that success came relatively late in life for her.
Born in Mossley Hill, Kim moved to Canada, aged one, only to return to Liverpool 10 years later. A keen actress, she trained for a year at Lamda, in London, before returning to the States where she graduated from the famous American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
She trod the boards for a while until the TV and film roles began trickling through. She played the lead in 80s comedy Mannequin and a highly sexed high school teacher in the cult film Porky's as well as a Vulcan in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country but never quite hit the big time.
Then along came Samantha Jones. In 2003, Kim picked up a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the PR woman and the same year, released a sex manual entitled Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm (written with her then husband Mark Levinson), yet she says she struggles to match her alter-ego's confidence.
"I think in some ways Samantha has certainly given me a platform to talk to women about specific things - sexuality being top of the list," she reveals.
"But I have moments of incredible insecurity. I'm deeply flawed and human, and that's what I think makes these characters interesting because they are, too."
One thing Kim and Samantha do have in common, though, is younger men.
After years of playing the field, Samantha is with twentysomething actor Smith and threetime divorcee Kim has been dating 28-year-old Canadian chef Alan Wyse since 2004.
She recently admitted: "When I started dating my younger man, I first of all felt very much like Samantha. I think a lot of women feel it, what can I talk about?
How is this going to work? But that has never been a problem."
As for the future, despite all the upheavals getting this film made, Kim is hopeful that we have not seen the last of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha.
She says: "You know I'm so superstitious. I really want the film to be a big success because I think that we made it for the right reasons - I think the script is really good and the performances and the direction is really great - but ultimately you never know, you just never know.
"People might see it and think it's beyond their expectations or they might see it and say 'Oh, I preferred the series'. You just don't know.
"Our fans are incredibly faithful and they'll see it to get over the shock that it exists, someone told me this last week in London. She said 'I'm just going to see it because I know it exists and then I'm going to see it and memorise everything that I saw . . . ' "I hope it does lead to more.
I don't know though."
SEX and the City the Movie opens on May 28.
DON'T miss Thursday's Daily Post for our Sex and the City Style City special.
"PAT (the show's stylist Patricia Field) is amazing, totally brilliant. I'm like a theatre rat, I'm comfortable in jeans and sweater," says Kim.
"But I also like dressing up, especially with this character because she is so over the top and it allows you so much licence to have fun.
"We look at things together Pat and I, and I'll go 'nah', and she goes 'yeah, I know' we're so on the same page. And that took a while, the collaboration.
"She was more wanting me to wear, not so much Carrie style, but big over the top sexy and I felt I wanted to go a little slower than that.
"Because Samantha is a business woman and I wanted the viewers to say 'well, yes, she could wear that . . .' and underneath there might be a little something, but over the top it would be that she could walk down the street and not look like a hooker.
"That was easily incorporated early on with the big jewellery. Now it's the belts, everything is belted!"
Kim with the rest of the Sex and the City girls, from left, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker; Kim arrives for the world premiere of Sex and the City in London last week; Samantha deals with turning 50 in the film