As told by the actors, writers, producers, and costume designers.
Note: All behind-the-scenes stories and facts were pulled from Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell (2004) by Amy Sohn. Sohn interviewed SATC actors, writers, producers, costumer designers, and everyone in-between for the book.
1. After shooting the pilot episode of Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker contacted her agent because she wanted to get out of the series. Parker said, “I was afraid I would be on a series for the rest of my life — everyone told me to just stop panicking and calm down. But once I spent a little time working for HBO, I never looked back.”
2. Kim Cattrall also liked the pilot script for Sex and the City, but similar to Parker, wasn’t initially sold on the idea or all that interested in playing Samantha Jones. Cattrall said, “I had lunch with Darren [Star] and said, ‘These are my concerns. This is what I don’t want to be doing, and this is what I do want to be doing.'” They hired another actor to play Samantha before Cattrall officially signed on, and once she did, the other actor got paid for her short time on SATC, and the rest is history.
3. Sarah Jessica Parker purposefully tripped a lot throughout the series to emulate some of her favorite physical comedians, like Steve Martin and Jennifer Saunders. She believed tripping in designer shoes was true to Carrie’s character because she was “such a wreck of a person so much of the time.” Tripping in shoes captured Carrie’s character to a tee: “Her apartment is such a mess that she should trip over shoe boxes,” Parker said. “They are in the way.”
4. If you were ever confused about the timeline of the series, you weren’t alone — and do you know why? It was all done on purpose! According to executive producer Michael Patrick King, they decided to set Sex and the City in “eternal spring” after they shot a specific episode in Season 1. King said, “There’s a really bizarre scene in [‘Secret Sex’] when Carrie and Miranda are walking in Riverside Park — there is not a leaf on any of the trees, and they are wearing scarves. That was before we realized the actresses are going to be cold — it’s never summer, fall, or winter until the final episode of Season 4.”
5. In “Cock-a-Doodle-Do,” Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth shot the scene where Carrie and Big fall into the lake at Central Park in one take (the SATC crew even had to clean all of the garbage out before they started shooting). According to Parker, “If you look at the scene, you see that both of us are terrified — I actually cut my foot at the bottom, and they had to give me a tetanus shot right afterward.”
6. When Miranda went into labor with Brady in “I Heart NY,” Cynthia Nixon suggested to the producers that Carrie should be in the room with Miranda while it happened — not just Steve. Nixon had a similar experience in real life when she gave birth to her children and felt this part of the plot was important. “During my labor, I had my boyfriend there, but I also had a girlfriend with me,” Nixon said. “She was a very calming influence, similar to how Carrie is for Miranda.”
7. Sarah Jessica Parker wanted Carrie’s character to use as little profanity as possible while shooting scenes and writing her columns — so, that’s ultimately the direction they took for all six seasons of the series. If you rewatch it now, notice how little Carrie curses (if at all).
8. When Carrie got the invitation to Big and Natasha’s engagement party at the plaza, property master Sabrina Wright said, “Because Big [didn’t] have a name [at the time], I wrote, ‘Boris and Natasha wish to announce their wedding.'” This was a nod to the two main villains from the 1960s cartoon The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Wright said, “[When] Sarah Jessica read it, [she] nearly fell on the floor laughing.”
9. The iconic opening credits of Carrie walking around in her tutu gazing up at New York City was inspired by the opening theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show from the 1970s. According to SATC creator and executive producer Darren Star, the MTMS opening told “a story about the character,” which is what he wanted for Carrie. He said, “I came up with the idea that she would be walking in a confident, cocky way through the streets, this bus would splash her, and then she would turn around and see that it was her image. The show is about someone who is constantly getting surprised by life, and I felt the sequence encapsulated who Carrie was.”
10. And when it came down to what Carrie would wear in the opening credits, the crew was so indecisive about Parker wearing the tutu, they had a total of four different dresses picked out. But, ultimately, Parker and costume designer Patricia Field were the only ones who were in love with the iconic white tutu. Parker said, “I felt it set the sequence up nicely, but it didn’t give away the joke — the pie in the face. Frankly, if I had it my way, it would have been a bigger silhouette of a tutu, rather than the tiered cupcake thing.”
11. In the Season 1 episode where Carrie accidentally farted while she was in bed with Big, Sarah Jessica Parker was deeply mortified for days before shooting the scene with Chris Noth. Parker said, “When I was covered up with the blanket, I accidentally ran into the door, but we kept the shot — the scene took many takes because I kept laughing and I was really embarrassed.”
12. Before John Corbett made his big return as Aidan Shaw in Season 4, his devoted fans created a campaign to get him back on the show by sending popsicle sticks and small wooden chairs to the Sex and the City offices. Executive producer Michael Patrick King said, “We had already made a decision to keep John on, but it was a really good validation [from the fans].”
13. The clothes, shoes, jewelry, and bags all four women wore throughout the series ranged from $0 to $20,000 — any piece was up for grabs, as long as it represented their characters well. For example, costumer designer Patricia Field found a blue cape Carrie wore in the first episode of Season 4, “The Agony and the ‘Ex’-Tacy,” in a thrift store in Miami for only $5. Sometimes the actors dipped into their own closets when it came to designing their characters — Cynthia Nixon was known for rocking her own jewelry, like silver earrings that used to belong to her grandmother.
14. Field also revealed that after they were done filming an episode, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis could “choose to purchase anything that has been bought.” Cattrall didn’t really buy Samantha’s clothes because it didn’t represent her lifestyle beyond the show, but the rest of the women (rightly) took advantage of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte’s closets! Field also said the used clothes were auctioned a lot of the time: “A white shirt of Mr. Big’s went for a lot of money, as did the sequined American flag bag Carrie had in ‘The Agony and the “Ex”-Tacy.'”
15. Executive producer Jenny Bicks created Steve Brady’s character specifically with actor David Eigenberg in mind. Apparently, Eigenberg had auditioned for a variety of characters before coming on as Steve in Season 2, but Bicks remembered him and wanted him on the show in any capacity.
16. At the end of the Season 3 episode where Miranda hired Magda, Magda left a plate of condoms in Miranda’s top drawer as a way of “accepting” Miranda’s active sex life. This, however, wasn’t originally in the script. “In the original ending, Magda arranged the condoms on a plate with the [Virgin Mary] in the middle — but both HBO and the producers felt that was going too far, so they took the Virgin out.”
18. And the men who ended up filming sex scenes on Sex and the City wore a cup so nothing would actually show — the cups were labeled “KC” for Kim Cattrall’s initials.
19. The writers and producers on Sex and the City went back and forth with HBO on whether Carrie should’ve had the affair with Big in Season 3. HBO was against it, but naturally, the SATC crew fought hard to showcase something uncomfortable on TV that people could actually relate to. Sarah Jessica Parker said, “It’s not like [Carrie] just met this man on the street and didn’t know he was married — it’s a very conscious adult decision to make, and you have to deal with the consequences.”
20. Sarah Jessica Parker recalled a bizarre experience shooting a scene with John Corbett in Columbus Circle one night, ending Carrie and Aidan’s relationship for good. “This man came around in a big garbage truck [a few times], and he asked me to pose for a picture with him,” Parker said. “He wound up putting an ad in the Village Voice thanking me, saying if I ever wanted to get together, to give him a call.”
21. In the episode where Charlotte hosted Miranda’s baby shower, Kim Cattrall was responsible for making a baby joke go smoother than originally intended. At the shower, Miranda put a friend’s baby down on the couch while opening presents, and the baby slipped off — the behind-the-scenes maneuver Cattrall suggested was “putting the baby on a baby blanket that was underneath the frame, so that the blanket pulled the baby [down].”
22. In “The Domino Effect,” Kristin Davis brought in her own acupuncturist to insert the needles during Charlotte’s treatment, and those scenes were all shot in *one* day. Davis’s acupuncturist inserted needles into her body every 45 minutes, resulting in a total of 10 hours of acupuncture.
23. Marilyn Monroe heavily influenced Carrie’s lingerie style and the decision to dress her in fun bras both in bed and in her everyday outfits. According to Sarah Jessica Parker, “She really believes, in a literary way, in the idea of love, so I thought there was something pure and chaste about wearing bras to bed.”
24. Before every episode, Kim Cattrall always came in prepared with a variety of different angles and suggestions to see what would fit better for Samantha and the man she was involved with. Whether it was the hot priest from Season 4 or the fireman from Season 3, Cattrall always came with ideas. She said, “In the sex scene with the fireman, I suggested, ‘Let me do an orgasm with the sound of a fire engine, let me try different things.’ You don’t know if one’s going to be too much or not enough, so it’s nice for [the SATC crew] to have a few choices.”
25. One of Cynthia Nixon’s favorite scenes to shoot in the series was when Miranda had a panic attack in Season 2 and Carrie met her at the hospital. Nixon recalled, “When we came to the hospital scene, I was nervous because I viewed it as quite emotional from the beginning — it was the first time Miranda admitted that she is shaky about her world.” It cast a light on Miranda’s mental health and the emotional burdens she suppressed as an adult — it was one of the first times SATC addressed mental health in a serious manner.
26. The show rarely kept any lines that the actors ad-libbed, aside from a Mr. Big line in Season 3 where he’s newly (and unhappily) married to Natasha. Chris Noth said, “I added the line, ‘I’m so fucked up’ — I think everyone’s been at that place where you’re really desperately humiliated and you still do it. They kept it, and I was really happy.”
27. David Duchovny was a guest star in Season 6 playing Jeremy, Carrie’s ex-boyfriend from high school. After reuniting for dinner and walking back to her apartment, they kissed, and Duchovny ad-libbed a line that also made the final cut in the episode. After he kissed Parker, he came up with, “That’s a lot better without the gearshift sticking up my ass” all on his own.
28. Actors Joan Collins and Kim Novak had a heavy influence on Samantha Jones’ style. Patricia Field recalled, “At the beginning of every season, [Kim Cattrall] would say, ‘Let’s do a Joan Collins thing’ or ‘let’s do a Kim Novak thing.'” If you watch closely, you can pick up on all of the Hollywood nods to these fine actors.
29. Willie Garson (aka Stanford Blatch) knew Sarah Jessica Parker many years before they started working together on Sex and the City in 1998. Outside of the show, they’re actually good friends, and when the ball started rolling on SATC, the two actors confided in each other that they were both cast — and, naturally, were supportive as heck. Garson said, “Someone thought we’d really get along, so we were seated next to each other at a dinner party and we became absolutely great friends. We always say if either of us was on [SATC] and the other one wasn’t, we’d be there anyway, hanging out.”
30. The storyline of Samantha meeting her Season 1/Season 2 boyfriend, James, at a jazz club was literally taken from Kim Cattrall’s life — Cattrall told the Sex and the City crew that she met her ex-husband, Mark Levinson, at a jazz club.
31. And after the Season 2 episode “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” aired, a lot of people would go up to Cynthia Nixon in the street to praise her for the relatable speech Miranda made at the diner. Viewers admired Miranda’s natural frustration about their conversations being centered solely around men — according to Nixon, viewers would tell her, “I’m so glad [Miranda] said that!”
The original Sex and the City cast (aside from Kim Cattrall) has started filming the reboot, And Just Like That…, for HBO Max. They haven’t announced the release date yet, but be on the lookout, folks!!!
TV and Movies
Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.