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.

Meet Monica Velour (2010)

We’ve had retired assassins (Red), retired adventurers (Up) and retired pugilists (The Wrestler), why not a retired porn star? Meet Monica Velour offers one such wonder in the form of a chain-smoking, alcoholic Kim Cattrall, who scrapes off the Sex And The City gloss for a brave and brazen turn as the titular has-been.

She’s the insatiable crush-object of porn-mad teen Tobe (Dustin Ingram), who’s collected all of Velour’s racy ’80s memorabilia, and leaps at the chance to meet her at a seedy strip show. Driving there in his hot dog van (don’t ask), Tobe finds Velour now a miserable creature with fading looks, desperate for a second chance. Deciding to help her, Tobe discovers that Velour’s being stalked by her bully ex-husband, with whom she’s locked in a custody battle over their young daughter.

Attempting to fuse quirky Indie peculiarities (the sweary grandpa, the hapless, geeky teenager) with a grown-up drama about wilting beauty and human struggle, director Keith Bearden’s feature debut is a bit of a mixed bag. To its credit, that blend works better than it should. There are subtle notes being tinkled throughout (including an interesting though empty suggestion that Tobe’s obsession with the older Velour stems from the fact that he misses his dead mother), while Cattrall’s jaded victim is clearly deserving of her own movie.

It’s almost a shame that Velour’s gritty B-plot relies so heavily on Tobe’s rom-com A-plot. Tobe’s cheesy quest for confidence might speak to a few Peter Pan syndrome sufferers, but it’s Velour’s sad, down-trodden existence that has the most universal appeal, echoing the plight of Marisa Tomei’s down on her luck stripper in The Wrestler. This is far from perfect, then, but as a brilliantly bold departure for Cattrall alone, it’s worth giving a chance. 3/5

Via Out In The City

Meet Kim Cattrall…

Some days my job is amazing. Alright, most days my job is amazing. But today I got to sit in a room for 20 minutes with Kim Cattrall. Which, for me, is pretty much up there as one of the coolest things somebody can do for 20 minutes.

Cattrall’s doing the rounds for her latest movie Meet Monica Velour, which comes out in just under two weeks. She plays a washed up porn star, bravely scraping off the glossy Hollywood sheen we’re used to her wearing and putting in a career-best performance. It’s a million miles away from Sex And The City. Don’t believe me? Check out the below trailer and then tell me you don’t want to see it.

Strangely, Velour has been denied a cinematic release and is instead heading straight to DVD. That in itself is a small crime, but more so considering Cattrall’s electric, fearless performance. At the end of our chat, Cattrall requested that we urge people to seek out her new movie – especially in light of that straight-to-video fudge up. So, yes, for her, check Monica Velour out if you can (it’s out 4 July). And check back here in a few weeks for my official review and chat with Cattrall.