City Slicker; Racy and Uncompromising, with a Taste for Younger Men, Kim Cattrall Is Preparing Hard for Her Role in Sex and the City on the Big Screen, Says Edward Helmore

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Byline: EDWARD HELMORE

Kim Cattrall arrives, looking like a Ralph Lauren ad in white jeans and a T-shirt, sits down, removes her dark glasses with one gesture, and tells me she's just come from the new rooms at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art where she was studying sculptures of Aphrodite, her favourite goddess.

'You should see how the fabric of her dress reveals the curve of her bosom,' she says admiringly. Aphrodite, of course, should know a thing or two about seduction, and Cattrall, an actress whose career has largely been defined by sexual appeal, is happy to take tips from the master - or, in this case, mistress - of the craft.

Cattrall is here at the Four Seasons, picking at a lobster Caesar salad, to discuss her performance as a bored trophy wife in John Boorman's The Tiger's Tail and her recent stage work, including parts in Peter Hall's Whose Life is it Anyway? and David Mamet's The Cryptogram at the Donmar. She's an agile conversationalist, keen to please, but she's less interested in the role that has defined her: the insatiable man-eater, as seen in Porky's, the equally frat-house Police Academy, Mannequin and, most enduringly, Sex and the City. She's not a born-again virgin exactly, but her concerns these days are more to do with looking after her ageing father than bedding another extra or promoting multiple orgasms. Sex sirens are apt to be contrary when they're not on duty.

Cattrall has appeared in dozens of films over 30 years, been married three times (when she was 20 and again in her mid-twenties, and a third time in her forties), dated copiously (including the former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau) and has written several books, including Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm. This slim volume, co-authored by her ex-husband, hi-fi designer Mark Levinson, and published just as the couple announced their separation, was complete with artful illustrations. It was not, she explains, a sex manual nor even, despite the title, about climaxing. 'It was about communication...' Cattrall explains. 'It has art in the title.'

Refinements of meaning and reinterpretation inform much of Kim Cattrall's way of being.

Sex and the City was a cultural moment. Each of the singles - Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha - had a stereotypical role to play. 'Samantha embodied sexuality, experimentation, self-confidence and exploration,' she explains. 'She was brave and courageous, but she was always vulnerable.'

Cattrall was so good at playing Samantha, and so much of her acting is echoed in her life, that it is unfair to try to separate the two. She is extremely proud of the series, and is in no doubt what it was about. 'At a certain point you want to start feathering a nest, find the right guy, settle down and make babies. But if there's nothing going on you are considered a loser - that's what the show was about: girls with a great job, a great education, but alone. This was women talking about a taboo, admitting a vulnerability, and getting together to say no to guys, not yes in desperation.' Cattrall, 50, is currently dating 28-year-old Alan Wyse, a chef who lives in Toronto.

'He's going to be 29 soon,' she says brightly, adding how people love to note that she's getting older but time seems to stand still for her lover. 'To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed about it because it's so close to a storyline that Samantha had.' Of course, her situation places her at the leading edge of the fashion - her Demi Moore to his Ashton Kutcher. 'I don't see it as being fashionable, like owning a small dog or wearing ballet slippers,' she says. 'When we met I thought it was funny - I didn't take it seriously. I thought it was just a nice episode and anyway I was dating other men closer to my own age. But he kept calling and pursuing me...' In the tradition of relationships separated by age, their difference in years is not a factor. 'He's fun and easy and that has a lot to do with why I like him,' Cattrall says. …