While everyone knows the sequel to Sex and the City is getting released May 27, Warner Bros. has kept the plot under wraps and fans of the show are getting restless. Thankfully, just a few days ago I got to speak with writer/director Michael Patrick King at ShoWest as a reporter for our partners at Omelete and he spilled a lot of the secrets to Sex and the City 2. So if you want to know what happens to Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, you’re in the right place. Here’s some of the highlights:
- The girls go to Abu Dhabi.
- He tells a great story as to how he came up with the story for the sequel and it involves the fans.
- They filmed in Africa as the Middle East wasn’t ready for the girls.
- He points out very few movies actually show what happens after happily ever after.
- He brings back Carrie’s ex. He says he always asks people Mr. Big or Aidan…and they’re both in the movie as Aidan is where the girls go on vacation.
- We will still see lots of fashion and style even with the economic downturn.
- Liza Minnelli plays herself but Penelope Cruz and Miley Cyrus don’t.
Trust me, there is so much more in the interview. For the full transcript and the audio of the interview, hit the jump. If you’re a fan of Sex and the City, I promise you’ll love it.
As always, the complete transcript is below. If you’d like to listen to the audio of the interview, click here.
Michael Patrick King: …put the creatures on the table. Bring the creatures.
You were very funny out there.
Michael Patrick King: Thank you. Thank you. What are you going to do in front of a crowd? I didn’t have 3D. I had to have a couple of jokes.
The last film was so successful, do you feel the pressure for the sequel?
Michael Patrick King: There’s always pressure. Anytime you create a new artistic anything, there’s pressure because one of my rules when I did the series, and I maintained it on this movie, was never to repeat. I try not to repeat a story. I try not to repeat an emotion. I want it to be all sort of new for the viewers and to challenge myself as a writer, so there’s always pressure. What else can you come up with? But these characters are so vibrant to me and to people around the world who still follow their lives, it’s easy to get lost in like what they would do, so the pressure comes off on me and more into the work.
So how come the idea to go to Abu Dhabi and how was it to shoot over there?
Michael Patrick King: Okay, that’s a big story. How much time have you got? Here’s what happened: When I finished the first movie I had no idea for a 2nd movie. And then I saw the parties around the world when the movies were being shown. Everybody was showing up dressed up and the movie was a big success and the opportunity came and the first thing I thought was, well I want this to be a party. And also because when I was writing the script we were in an economic downturn still, and still are around the world. Financially it’s not the same world as when we did the first movie. So I thought, okay it’s a depression. In the Great Depression what did people do? What do people need? And I thought extravagance. Let’s put them on a big vacation. Then I thought what’s happening right now? And the theme of the movie for me really is tradition. And even how women today in New York City are still struggling with traditional roles no matter how evolved they are, they still have to struggle with wife, mother, single still.
So I thought tradition, tradition and then I thought about where’s there a lot of money with no shame attached and then I thought about the Middle East and because of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and their extravagance and their whole PR machine, which is it’s the new Middle East and the future. I thought, great and the idea of Samantha Jones, sexually liberated beyond anyone’s expectation going to the Middle East started to make me amused. And so then I started building the other story around that. So originally, we were going to film in Dubai and the Abu Dhabi but after I wrote the script and had been over there many times, it was like we went on a date with the Middle East. And then they decided we shouldn’t go on another date. The idea of sex and these liberated women being filmed there was a little too progressive for their…where they are right now. So we had to discover Abu Dhabi, which is where the movie takes place, in Marrakesh, in Africa, Rabat and Asweria. And there were some amazing benefits to that in that we were not monitored. There wasn’t a big watchful eye on the girls in terms of editing or censoring. And the other thing was, we got to film on like dunes where they filmed Laurence of Arabia. So I really wanted to be this Shahrazad middle east adventure and I got it.
Then why did you want to keep the concept although you were refused to film there, the concept of Abu Dhabi?
King: Yes, because the Middle East. Tradition. Women in the Middle East. Women in America. Liberated women. Women where they’re traditionally stronger. I think there’s a very big story in the middle east and it also is a very advanced, glamorous capital. And it has a lot to do with money and it’s still kind of an exotic. You know what I mean? It’s far away and no one’s been there and why not go? It’s, you know, Arabian Nights.
What were the challenges now that the women are getting older?
King: Well, the challenges aren’t as much as you think because one of the great gifts of “Sex and the City” is it’s been able to evolve. So when the girls were 34, they were 34. And now that Kim or Samantha’s 52, Samantha’s 52. So there’s an enormous power in not trying to hide anything and there’s a great story there for women who are in that part of their life to reflect. And then I have characters who are 10 years younger, you know? 42, 43. So for me, it’s just about keeping it real and current. And what’s great about the series in a very bizarre almost like a magic trick, girls are still watching the DVD’s who are 20 but think that Samantha’s their friend. You know, so there’s this whole evolution. So for me, the girls are gorgeous, they look beautiful. They’re at the top of their game. And my only issue was to not pretend and to write some comic version or some realistic relatable version of where they are right now.
How do you see Carrie? How has she changed?
King: Well you know Carrie got everything she ever thought she’d want, which presents an interesting dilemma for anyone. And, you know, very few movies actually show what happens after happily ever after. And the first movie ended with happily ever after. Tah-dah. So the next movie has to be what is Carrie Bradshaw like as a wife? What’s that about? The title wife. For the eternal single girl, the rebel, the individual. How do you conform or not conform? Her life continues. She’s very successful and she’s a creative individual. She writes books. She makes her own rules. And now she’s dealing with a whole new series of rules.
And bringing her ex back into the picture, what was that…
King: One of the interesting other theme in the movie is evolution really. Who they were, who they are, who they’re afraid to be or who they might be in the future. So when I started looking at who they were, of course the past comes into play. And because I like a good story, I whipped up a reason to bring in a little tension and drama and excitement and potentially a mistake with the other man in her life. Because seriously whenever anybody tells me they like Carrie and they like “Sex and the City”, I always ask them-women-I say one question-Big or Aidan? And there’s usually a split. There’s never anybody else, it’s always Mr. Big or Aidan and they represent two very different male characters. And they represent two different things to her. So if I’m looking back at the past, I thought I’m in a magical place, why not make something happen. And also we even look at the 80’s because I’m always trying to look at something I’ve never done before and you get to see what the girls look like in the 80’s. There’s a moment of really going back for a minute and seeing how they met. So, it’s really about evolution and luckily the audience is evolving with these characters so if you look at the movie and you’re their friends-because people think they’re their friends-they’ll be something for you to relate to. Plus then for me as a writer/director, I just wanted to do big, big almost old-fashioned Hollywood movie with like real sets. Not green screen and not CGI and they’re really on camels and they’re really, really fighting the sun and the sun goes down and you’re screwed. There’s no tricks here. It’s really like old-school moviemaking with a current sort of edge, I hope.
How much did you allow the girls to bring in their own ideas to the story? And do you have any examples?
King: No. We have a great respect for each other. And they always are really curious to see where I’m going first with these characters. And I always almost preview their lives before them, before I write it. I say this is where I think this is. And they’re always very trusting and understanding that I know the characters-the 4 of them-they know their characters and I’m aware of the balance of the 4. So they’re always giving me the benefit of the doubt based on what the movie needs and based on what each of their roles are in this big movie. So it’s really a blissful experience for me to work with them. I mean we’ve been working together….people say to me, how long do you rehearse a scene? I say 12 years. You know, it’s very little dialogue. It’s like here’s the script and the I watch them be Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.
How do you know so much about women? Do you get inspiration from someone else? From other women?
King: Well here’s the great thing about women-writing for women about women. Women tell you things. They’re very available. You can feel them and see them and they’re very verbal. And so if you’re in the world and you’re looking around for what’s happening? What are people experiencing? All you have to do is look and listen and then like any writer, I’m not a doctor but I don’t have to be a doctor to write an emergency room scene. But I really enjoy women and I totally understand and applaud the diversity that they have in terms of their emotions and intellects and vulnerability and strengths.
Because of the economic downturn are we going to see less over the top fashion.
King: I always said, nobody wants to see Carrie Bradshaw selling apples under a bridge. That would be just depressing. My job is to take the audience on a fun thing and have them feel good. There is always, always going to be style. There’s a lot more vintage in this movie. There’s actually re-worked clothing, but it is filled with everything people want. It’s not like, oh I’m depressed they’re wearing brown. No, there’s no reason to do “Sex and the City” if it’s not going to be everything “Sex and the City” is, which is vibrant emotions, comedy, drama and also style.
After this movie is there more room to know more about their lives? Is there a third…
King: You know these girls always are going to be interesting. There’s no plan. When I did the first movie, I was like that’s all I know. With me, when I’m actually finishing “Sex” I like to think about the “Sex” I’m finishing. I don’t think about if there’s more “Sex” coming. So these characters will always be vibrant. And these actresses will always be viable. It’s not like…they’ll live on in people’s minds whether we film them again or not.
On the set, what was the biggest challenge?
King: On the set?
On the set. What was the biggest challenge?
King: Camels. The dunes. Kim, Sarah Jessica, Kristin, and Cynthia on camels for days. With hair and makeup people far away because I didn’t want footprints. And I’d be yelling, great. And they’d be going again? And I go, yes the camel wasn’t good. You know they’re always good-the camel’s a problem. No, it was just a big journey and it’s a big movie and that’s exciting.
Liza Minnelli was new, too.
King: Oh yeah and Penelope Cruz and Miley Cyrus. It’s thrilling.
How was working with Penelope and can you address a little bit about her role?
King: A dream. A dream come true. First of all I’m very honored to say she’s a very big fan of the first movie and the series. She said to me, I watched that movie 15 times. I put it on when I want to feel happy. I put it on when I want to feel sad. So when I had a moment where I could…I had a window where I could bring in one more amazing woman, I called her up and she agreed to do it. But it’s a very beautiful little moment and she’s not playing herself. Liza and Miley are for reasons you’ll see when you see the movie.
Well, thank you very much.
King: Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot. Bye.