Velour vixen

The main thing that people yell at Kim Cattrall in the street? “I’m you! I love you! I wanna be you!” laughs the actress. “I’m like, you don’t want to be me, you want to be her.” The ‘her’ in question is Samantha Jones, the sultry, man-eating PR star of TV show Sex And The City. Cattrall played Ms Jones for six seasons and two movies, but sitting cross-legged in a swish London hotel on a breezy June morning, she’s a million miles away from her New York counterpart. Softly spoken, quick to laugh, friendly, she’s both businesswoman sophisticated and pleasantly approachable. She’s also breaking away from her most famous role with new film Meet Monica Velour, an indie that has Cattrall swapping posh frocks for porn as a washed out, washed up adult star. “I finally got a great part!” she jests…

Do you find many gay guys have an affinity with you and your Sex And The City character?
What do you think? Absolutely! The gay and lesbian community have been so supportive, even before Sex And The City. I just got a GLAAD award, which is an amazing organisation that I support, so I’m very grateful for the support that I get from the gay community.

What was the most exciting part of playing ex-porn star Monica Velour?
The most exciting and difficult thing was to keep her dignity. Once I found that everything else came. I rehearsed this like I did a play. It’s a great part for a woman – who writes a part for a woman in her fifties? Nobody, especially a first time director. This was such a departure, I had to go away and rehearse it.

Did you find that amount of prep hard?
It was devastatingly hard. I saw the [behind the scenes video] about six months ago, and I was never out of character – I was Monica. I was doing and saying things that I would never do. Having a couple of drinks after work, I would never do that. That whole thing with kissing the biker, that’s not written and that’s a real biker. [pulls a face] And I thought, ‘How did I do that?!’

Would you say you’re quite fearless in the projects you’re taking on after the show?
When I read the script for Monica Velour, my agent said, ‘You’re not going to want to do this, because it’s about sex again.’ I don’t think it’s really about sex. This is about sexualisation and marginalisation. That really got me going, and it terrified me more than many of the roles I’ve taken on because I wasn’t going to look sexy and pretty.

Was it quite liberating to take off all the gloss?
It was fantastic, it really was. I have a huge appetite and my body type is heavier than I am right now, so to be that 20 pounds extra was heaven! I loved eating and putting it on, I savoured every bit of it with crap meals and McDonalds, whatever I wanted!

The film parodies the porn industry and the cheesy knock offs they create of mainstream movies…
There’s one of Sex And The City! You have to watch a little bit of it…

Did you find the strip scene difficult with all the male extras booing you?
It was the last scene that was shot, when I was the heaviest. I gained 15 pounds before we started shooting, and another five over the course of shooting. I made a choice that she wasn’t in her body [during that scene], which protected me through the different angles we had to do, but after a while it did affect me. I went into the dressing room afterward and had a good cry. But hearing that age rage, I’m not made of stone and it does have an effect, but that’s what the film is about.

Do you feel it’s a pressure to look a certain way?
In some ways it is, but I’m a child of the Jane Fonda generation, so I’ve been on a diet since 1974! So it’s business as usual, really. And I don’t sleep well, so if I exercise I sleep better. I like to look fit, I’m single, I’m dating, I want to be attractive, but at the same time there’ll be a time when I say, ‘I’m tired, I just want a hamburger and fries!’

Do you feel lucky you’re not in the same position as Monica?
Oh my God, yes. I don’t want to live in a freakin’ trailer park. I have choices, I have a voice, I have a platform. I can’t compare myself to her situation in any way, it breaks my heart. The similarity in it is survival. It’s a really fucking hard lonely job in a lot of ways, there are the great highs, the lows. And sometimes you’re just a person in a hotel room who can’t go out.

Have you ever had your own 17-year-old stalker?
Yes, I’ve gone through restraining orders and court cases, but I keep it very private because to make noise about it is to create more instances of it. I was doing a play once in California and in the interval the artistic director said, ‘We’ve had a death threat.’ It was terrifying. I mean, I’m an actor, why should I have to put up with that insanity? But that’s part of it.

Meet Monica Velour is out on DVD now.