Kim Cattrall, star of Sex and the City, discusses her new film Meet Monica Velour
Indie comedy about an aging porn star is set to screen at the EIFF
This article is from 2011.
For her new film, Meet Monica Velour, Kim Cattrall has ditched the glamour of Sex and the City to play a porn star-turned-couch potato. She briefs Miles Fielder on growing old ungracefully
‘To have a role like this in your fifties is quite extraordinary,’ says Kim Cattrall, who is 53 and has made a virtue of playing sexy older women in a business that refuses to equate the one with the other. ‘When Meet Monica Velour showed at the Tribeca Film Festival,’ she continues, ‘they called it Requiem for A Porn Star, which I thought was quite apt, really. No one’s writing roles like this for women.’
In EIFF highlight Meet Monica Velour, Cattrall plays a retired 70s porn star who has fallen upon hard times. Living in a trailer park in the American mid-west, Velour scrapes a living working small-town strip bars and is losing a custody battle with her asshole husband over her beloved daughter. When nerdy teenage fan Tobe (one-time Glee actor Dustin Ingram) turns up on her doorstep to announce his love, Velour finds herself involved in a sweet and ridiculous romance that threatens her already insecure life with a whole new set of headaches.
The film is a bittersweet romantic comedy drama, written and directed by first-timer Keith Bearden, that harks back to the offbeat, ‘indie’ American cinema of the 1980s. It’s a low-budget film, certainly in comparison with the blockbusting Sex & the City 2, which Cattrall made in the same year. The character was also a departure for Cattrall – Monica Velour demanded she ditch the glamour of SatC’s New York socialite Samantha Jones, put on the pounds and swear off the make-up.
‘Most actors of a certain age are brought in to “do what they do”,’ Cattrall says. ‘To do the kind of character they often play. When you’re making a departure, preparation is important. This was something I could not just show up and do. This was something I had to take apart and reconstruct for myself, make it my Monica Velour. That’s what I do in the theatre, whether I’m playing Amanda in Private Lives or Cleopatra in A&C. I’ve got to take the thing apart and then I can build my socialite, my queen or my porn star.’
Cattrall was born in Liverpool, grew up in Canada and studied drama in London and New York, where, in her final year, she made her big-screen debut in Otto Preminger’s 1975 film Rosebud. She took bit parts in TV shows – Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch – and then played sexpots in frat-coms: Porky’s, Police Academy, Mannequin. Her subsequent film career has a handful of highlights – Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Big Trouble in Little China – but working in Hollywood has also given her opportunities on some high-profile theatre stages. Last year she conquered London’s West End, garnering rave reviews for her role in Richard Eyres’ production of Noël Coward’s aforementioned Private Lives.
Nevertheless, since Sex and the City debuted in 1998, Cattrall has been indelibly identified with Samantha Jones. It’s taken a low-budget independent film with a first-time writer-director to give her the opportunity to play a part that’s now ‘out-of-character’. But although Velour and Jones might seem worlds apart, both roles have allowed Cattrall to challenge perceptions of women and beauty.
‘Monica Velour allowed me to do that,’ Cattrall explains. ‘This is what 50 looks like. There was no make-up, apart from some to make my neck look older. I’ve been objectified a lot as an actor, some of which I embraced for survival, so this was a letting-go. And gaining the weight was strangely freeing. I thought, “I have to be truthful here, otherwise everything I do will look false.” And that involved everything including the protruding stomach.’
Cattrall’s savvy enough to know it’s difficult for independent films to compete with blockbusters. But she has high hopes for Monica Velour, which is why she’s bringing it to Edinburgh. ‘I’m coming to the Film Festival,’ she says. ‘Wouldn’t miss it. It’s a lovely city. And I really think audiences will take this film to heart.’
Filmhouse 1, Wed 22 Jun, 7.50pm & Fri 24 Jun, 7pm.