BY DONNA FREYDKIN
Take everything you know about Kim Cattrall, who cemented her place in TV history as lusty, libidinous Samantha Jones on the seminal HBO series "Sex and the City" and two subsequent movies -- and mute it.
The British-born actress returns to the small screen in the Netflix series "Sensitive Skin," playing an art-gallery employee who shies away from anything resembling passion. Her Davina is in a bad marriage, with a dead-end career, and a couch you can't sit on, living in a sterile apartment devoid of color. It's a metaphor for her life. And Cattrall, as executive producer, says the series is represents a very different side of her.
Cattrall saw the six-part British version of the series and was hooked. "There's very few shows in my life, or films, or plays for that matter, that I feel that the writers have been eavesdropping on my thoughts and conversations. That was my first thought when I saw this," she says. "This time in a woman's has never been explored except in a very two-dimensional way."
She teamed up with creator Hugo Block to adapt it for North America, showing Davina in all her depressed, lost, misguided, sexualized glory. For her, it was a revelation. "You're the crazy aunt," says Cattrall, of the rather limited roles open to women her age. "Or when you're older, you're the smart owl. Wait a minute. Women are so much more complex and interesting."
Cattrall has filmed two seasons. Her Davina speaks for a group of women largely ignored by Hollywood: those dealing with hot flashes, kids leaving the nest, marriages unraveling, dreams put on hold forever and then delicately resurrected.
"The challenge is, what do you have to say when you have seen it all? What's left? There's a huge amount. It's a black comedy. It gets blacker. The second season is, I think, stronger than the first," she says. "It's interesting to play a protagonist who doesn't make things happen. She doesn't know what to do."
Cattrall has embraced getting older. She turns 60 this August and remains engaged, curious and driven. And yes, she's fine with her laugh lines.
"I have no choice," she says. "I want to reach out to other women out there. I don't think I'm alone. That's the thing about feeling my age -- I don't."
Davina, unlike Cattrall, is dazed and confused. She's in a middling marriage, and can't relate to her adult son. "She's always been terrified of life and the good looks she's been given," says Cattrall.
To maintain the show's integrity and honesty, Cattrall set boundaries, especially regarding her appearance. "At one point, they said to me, 'We're going to do a digital wipe.' Over my dead body. You can light me and make me look great. But you're not going to do a digital wipe on me. The show is about me aging," says Cattrall. "I'm my age. Don't erase."