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Q+A with Michael Patrick King

Sex And The City 2
26 May 2010

What’s so exciting about coming back and doing another film? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: The amazing thing about this particular sequel, Sex and the City 2, was the journey before I even got to film.  I had this idea that the movie should be a party and that we’re in a bit of a Depression financially and the girls needed to go someplace extravagant and all of the sudden Abu Dhabi popped into my mind and then I thought, ‘How funny to have these very opinionated, very single—even though they’re married—American women in the Middle East, where there is so much tradition and conservative values. 

And then, John Melfi and I were in search of a location and we wound up in Morocco.  It had everything I needed and more, but the dunes were a two and a half hour plane ride away.  The good news is they are the dunes where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed.  And then we had amazing experiences. 

Camels in the desert for five days with actresses and the joke of the production of the movie is, each actress has a hair stylist, a makeup stylist and a dresser and because of Sex and the City, the brand, part of the brand is the glamour and the way they look.  It’s very, very important to the process, so the days we were on the camels, the girls were alone up there and we moved a little bit faster because no one could get to them because of the footprints and stuff. 

But, I have to tell you, they were amazing troopers.  They were on those camels for four days, and Kim and Sarah Jessica’s camel had this unique trait where it would just decide to sit down for no apparent reason without any warning, so they’d be in the middle of a scene and it would collapse like those string toys that you push and I would just hear screaming and the camel goes down first and then back, and they would check to see if each other was alright. 

It was amazing and the camel never did that on film, only when we were not filming.  So, I think that was a bit of an attitude problem; it never cost me any time, but it was crazy.  And then the other girls were on the camels as well.  The camels, the far away, exotic locations—it was quite an adventure.  Not to mention the New York part, which was a whole other type of filmmaking.   

We had a great time making the movie.  It felt like oh, now we’re doing that type of movie and then when we went to the Middle East it was like we were doing a David Lean epic.  It was a fun, big, big experience and that’s really what I wanted the audience to have:  a giant, fun vacation. 



What are the challenges of shooting such a huge movie on the streets of New York with all the onlookers? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: When we were filming the opening sequence, which took place in front of Bergdorf, it was all four girls.  There were thousands of people, and I am not exaggerating.  We had a similar experience on the first movie where people feel like these four characters, these four girls, are theirs and they’re part of New York. 

There was a scene we were filming when the Sex and the City tour bus went by, and you could hear the brakes go Errr.  And if you come to New York and you’re walking around Fifth Avenue and stumble upon Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte really existing, it’s like the ultimate New York sighting.   

The other interesting thing about it is that people sometimes say to me, ‘Isn’t it annoying to have thousands of people?’  And I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be worse if no one cared?’  Suppose you gave a party and nobody came.  Suppose you’re filming a sequel and people are like, ‘Eh.’  It’s always an event.   

I think the actresses embody something very special and a bigness that has to do with people’s lives as well as the actual beings that they are, like people are Carrie in their minds, and they are Miranda, and they know their friend Charlotte and the other friend that’s Samantha, so there’s an investment in these actresses; there’s an investment in the journeys and that good will is really the thing that I feel most from a crowd. 

I feel this enormous love towards these characters and this event and a gratefulness that it’s happening for them. But they’re amazing and the women are very lovely about it all.  They understand, we all understand, that the only reason there is a sequel, the only reason there was a first movie, is because of the fans and the fact that the audience cares so much that they want to see these girls. 

One of the reasons I came up with the Sex and the City 2 movie, the feeling of it, the tone of it, is because of the audience on the first one.  When I would go to screenings or when the movie opened and I would see lines of women and they were all dressed up and going to a party, I thought to myself, ‘I want the sequel to be the continuation of the party.  I want it to be the party.’   

The other thing I wanted to do with this is that I wanted to go global.  I wanted to go to a bigger world view of women because when we opened the first movie in London and Berlin and Paris and Tokyo, I started to see that this was more than just American women.  It really was a world of women identifying with these storylines and these issues and these characters.  So, I thought, well, let’s go bigger, so the first half of the movie is New York and the second half of the movie is the Middle East. 



How easy is it for women to relate to these characters and their lives? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: The lives of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, to write those lives is a responsibility because each of those women is reflected somewhere in the viewer, in the audience.  There are Charlottes out there that pay particular attention to Charlotte’s choices and Charlotte’s choices are that she left her job to become a stay-at-home mom and she married a man that was not her original idea of a man that can be her Prince Charming, but would end up to be the love of her life, so I’m sure a lot of women out there respond to the idea of being a mother and marrying somebody that you’re surprised you fell in love with. 

Then Miranda, of course, is the working, power-driven lawyer, tough, with the sort of Alpha woman in the relationship, and there are women out there to watch her choices and then Samantha, of course, is everybody’s idea of liberation.  She says, ‘I don’t want to do anything your way.  I’ll do it exactly my way. I am the smart hedonist.  I’m outrageous,’ so everybody wants to see what she’s going to do.  And Carrie, of course, is sort of the heart and soul of it all and when you ask people what character they are, they pretty much will always say Carrie first. 

And then they slide, and I’m also Samantha and I’m a little bit Charlotte, but they always say Carrie because she is the heart and the home of it all.  When I’m writing these stories, it’s important to me to be very respectful of the investment that the audience already has and so, for example, the series started out as four single women, then some of them got married.  There will never be a moment where there’s not one single woman in this movie because that’s not fair to the single women. 

I think with four women characters you have a pretty wide range of choices, but you have to be very, very diligent about where you think the women might be because I think the success of it is that it has dealt with what people are dealing with in their lives.  Now you’re looking at characters who are in their early 30’s and now in their 40’s, is because when we did the series every year, I would make sure that we never repeated and when you’re not repeating something, that forces you to go forward in another direction. 

So, it’s about moving forward and the fun thing about writing it is that we’re not afraid of the fact that they make choices that move them in a different direction because that happens in life all the time.  I have these four amazing actresses who are better every time you see them, who look amazing, so their lives change. 

And now we’re really dealing with Carrie Bradshaw, the ultimate single girl, who couldn’t get this one man to love her, married at home as a wife.  How does that happen?  How does she make her way through that societal maze, so that was important to me to figure out. 

Their lives are grounded and messy and human and the places they live and go are a little bit of a vacation but even in the teaser trailer, there’s a line in the end, ‘Sometimes you’ve just got to get away with the girls.’  Now, in our movie they’re walking across the Sahara desert dunes dressed in Chanel, but that’s what I’m saying.  It’s the same dynamic.  It’s going someplace with your girlfriends, except these are like girlfriends that have writers and a big movie budget so you get to experience and live through them and in this movie you get to live through a lot of beautiful and decadent environments, but the internal part is still very home-based and relatable and intimate and challenging.  It’s very personal in its big scope, I hope. 

Where do we pick up the Carrie and Big story in this film? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: The exciting thing for me when I was writing this was to try to figure out happily ever after and what that means because the end of the first movie was so romantic and in that movie he chose her and she forgave him and it’s a long journey of not being chosen by him, so now he has chosen her and the struggle in the first movie was there because I really wanted people to believe that he knew the jewel that he had that he almost lost, so now here they are two years later and they’re about the business and the comfort and the home-sweet-home of it all. 

These four women are not traditional.  Never have been.  Miranda had a baby out of wedlock then got married late. She’s the Alpha one in the house.  Charlotte converted to Judaism; she has an adopted Asian daughter.  She has given birth to another daughter.  Samantha has tried love and decided she’s always going to be single and Carrie is somebody who has tried everything she can to make this relationship work with this man and be a self-employed artist. 

Can you set up the story? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: In a brief synopsis, Carrie Bradshaw is now Carrie Bradshaw Preston.  She’s having a little difficulty being Carrie Preston.  She’s struggling a little bit with the idea of being a traditional wife.  She’s wondering what that means to her and her work.  It’s a new frontier she’s trying to figure out how to be a missus when she has spent her entire life and her career being miss. 

Charlotte York Goldenblatt’s story is simply that all she has ever wanted was to be married and have children.  Now, she has two children and one’s in the middle of going through her terrible two’s and she’s feeling overwhelmed as a mother, but because it’s all she ever wanted she has an inability to express that to anyone, even her very best friends, so as a result she’s in a little bit of a jail.  She’s trapped not being the perfect mother. 

Samantha Jones is someone who has always been in charge of everything about her life and now she’s in charge of her body.  She’s cutting edge, just like she is with sex and just like she is with clothing; she’s right on the cutting edge of trying to stay young through the menopause maze and she’s brash and arrogant and know-it-all about it until she goes to the Middle East and all her hormones, her biodentical hormones are taken away, and suddenly she slips and realizes, ‘I’m addicted to youth.  I’m a little fragile.’

So she realizes her identity has somehow got to be more than just those creams. 

And Miranda Hobbs has always been the career-driven, hard-line-track-from-Harvard lawyer.  She has spent an entire career putting almost that first in terms of her career path.  Miranda always wanted to be a lawyer and she has spent her entire life getting to the point where she’s high up in the firm and now she’s in a firm where somebody is making it very difficult for her and she chooses, in a moment of spontaneity, her dignity over her job and throws the job away, and with that, a little bit of her identity or most of her identity, so she has to find out who she is without a job. 

Because of their very busy lives, the girls are having a hard time finding time for just the four of them.  There are babies and husbands and jobs in the way.  Suddenly this opportunity comes up with Smith Jerrod, who is now a big action movie star, and has done this movie which was filmed in the Middle East.  And because Samantha was his publicist and made him a star, she gets the opportunity from the producer of the movie, who is from Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, to come over on an all expense paid trip with her three girlfriends to see his hotel and hopefully maybe do some PR. 



Does it matter where you put these women, or do they always remain New Yorkers? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte are these four diehard New York characters and when they’re together it doesn’t matter if they’re in Mexico, if they’re in New York City, if they’re in the Middle East, it’s still these four characters.  It’s Sex and the City and it can go anywhere because it’s the authentic four characters.  Their lives go with them wherever they go.  They’re always going to have a conversation.  It doesn’t matter if they’re on a camel or in a coffee shop.  It’s the same DNA.  The fun of it is it’s just a great adventure for them and the audience. 

How would you describe your collaboration with Patricia Field and her contribution? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: I think Patricia Field is a genius.  I love working with her.  She has major attitude about what she does and I embrace it because she knows stuff that I don’t know.  I’ve been working with Pat since the series and I’ve learned so much from her because she’s like Picasso.  She has an impulse and you follow it.  Pat’s an inspiration.  You give her a script and she runs with it.  And it’s not just the girls that Pat does.  I mean, she does everybody in the movie.  It’s funny because you think of only the girls, but she and her team do everything.  They costume all the men and it’s a lot of building clothing and characters.   

Pat cares a lot, too, about the evolution of the characters.  She knows where they’ve been clothing-wise and she’s always trying to evolve them.  It’s amazing and there are a couple of outfits in this movie that when she showed them to me, they’re so outrageous but so Sex and the City that I knew, well, I’m going to have to film that differently because you can’t get enough of it. 

There are always these amazing, broad, big candy choices that she makes that people love or hate and I love that. 



John Corbett comes back in this movie as Aidan.  Can you talk about him? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: You know, when women tell me they like Sex and the City, I always ask them one question:  ‘Big or Aidan?’  And you can tell who the woman is by how they respond to that. There are women who really like Mr. Big because he’s the challenge, he’s hard, he’s aspirational. He doesn’t give you what you want. He’s the one you can’t get. And then there are women who want Aidan because he’s loving and sexy and supportive and in love with you and can’t get enough of you.  That choice sort of defines who they are.  

Why go see this movie? 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: I wrote this movie, the sequel to Sex and the City, because I wanted it to be a big, fun, adventure. I wanted it to be a lot of laughs. I wanted it to have a point of view about the difference between tradition and non-tradition and basically it’s a big romp with these four girls.  And what I’ve sort of enjoyed about seeing it now is that there’s a lot in there for guys to relate to. There’s a new chapter in this movie that really has to do with you and your wife. How about your relationship at home and looking at it a little bit. People always say, ‘Why would guys like this movie?’ 

Well, first of all, if guys go to the movie there will be like 600 women in the theatre with them. And, secondly, it’s hopefully a good story. It’s a good movie, so they’ll enjoy that as well. But, you know, any guy who takes his girl will have a good time. The reality is there’s something in it for you as well. 

It’s a fun movie and I’m a guy, I like it, and I wrote good guy parts. The guys are well represented. And you shouldn’t be afraid of it because it’s really just relatable.  It’s about people in couples and a lot of comedy. 


Tell me about Sarah Jessica as a producer. 

MICHAEL PATRICK KING: The first big skill of any producer, to me, is that they’re able to sense a good story and be an audience, and Sarah Jessica really is my best audience. When I tell her the story and she reads the script, she’s able to just for a second take the producer hat off and be an audience member. She is my first audience. 

And then the hat comes on and we figure out how we’re gonna do it and she’s very hands-on in the production aspects. I mean, the movie from beginning to end is a very complicated, twisting of style and story and product and mechanisms and locations and she was always on the phone.   

We were basically hammering out schedules and locations and producing. She’s a very, very hands-on producer. She’s got a great aesthetic and she’s able to leave the actress aside when it’s time to produce and when she’s acting there’s no producer. It’s a great gift. 

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