While she may be a star of one of those most well-known and successful franchises in TV and film history, Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall was still more than a little starstruck at the prospect of working for director Roman Polanski in his latest film, The Ghost Writer.
“It’s unbelievable,” she says, speaking to Metro by phone from London, where she’s starring in Noel Coward’s Private Lives in the West End. “My agent called me and said, ‘Roman wants to talk to you.’ I was like, ‘What? Roman Polanski is going to call me? OK.'”
The stage and screen veteran found the equally celebrated and scandal-prone director charming. “He’s incredibly witty and funny,” she says. “He’s got a cheeky sense of humor. He’s also tough. Sometimes he seems impossible to please. But he’s a perfectionist, and perfectionists can drive you insane, but they can also inspire you to work incredibly hard.”
Cattrall insists she didn’t mind Polanski’s taskmaster tendencies. “The stakes were high all the time. We would shoot some scenes initially in 40 minutes. If we didn’t get it in 40 minutes within five or six takes, we weren’t going to get the scene,” she remembers. “It literally was like a machine, and he was the leader of it. It felt sometimes like going into battle, and he was our leader.”
In The Ghost Writer, Cattrall plays Amelia Bly, the inscrutable personal secretary to former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). To prepare for the part, Cattrall went right to the source.
“I contacted someone in Gordon Brown’s administration who’d basically done that for Gordon Brown,” Cattrall says. “She was really helpful in delving into Amelia Bly. This is a woman who really didn’t have a personal life. Her life is Lang. She really is the wife. She sets everything in motion. Nothing moves without her.”
And though she enjoys dramatic work such as The Ghost Writer, Cattrall says she’s reveling in returning to comedy, both onstage in London and later this year in Sex and the City 2 — though the theater has a distinct advantage.
“It’s great to make people laugh. I did it on Sex and the City, but I didn’t ever get to hear the laughter because it’s on a DVD or TV,” she insists. “But what’s great about this show is it’s instant. I love being in front of a live audience.”