She’s sexy Samantha — and so much more 

After 35 years on stage and screen, including starring roles as Kurt Russell’s squeeze in “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986) and as an emotionless Vulcan in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991), it boils down to this: Kim Cattrall is Samantha Jones, the lusty Manhattan businesswoman she plays in “Sex and the City.”

At least, that’s what most people think. (Cattrall, 53, fueled the fantasy with her 2002 book, “Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm,” co-written with then-husband Mark Levinson.)

Yet the British-born actress, who stars opposite Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” doesn’t feel married to any one role, even the one that has seemed to define her.

“I really enjoy mixing it up, playing characters that are very different from Samantha,” she says. “The best part about being an actress is to keep creating new characters, to find a great script, do your research and allow your imagination to take over. Samantha inspires me, but so does Amelia Bly.”

Bly, the curt, no-nonsense secretary to a former British prime minister, is the character Cattrall plays in “Ghost Writer,” a paranoid political thriller, based on a 2007 novel by Robert Harris, that is Polanski’s most compelling work since 1974’s “Chinatown.” 

For her part, Cattrall was intrigued equally by Harris and Polanski’s screenplay, which reminded her of Hitchcock, and by the opportunity to work with the controversial 76-year-old director, whose movies she watched growing up.

“I recognized immediately that this was something I wanted to do because I love thrillers,” she says. “I met Roman in Paris, and he offered me the role over lunch.

“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Roman is a cinematic genius. He’s thoughtful and provocative, and his films have touched me and repelled me in a way no other filmmaker’s have. He’s extremely demanding, and it can be terrifying to work with him when he puts you on the spot, but it’s easy to trust his instincts.”

Cattrall is currently in London, starring in a West End revival of Noël Coward’s “Private Lives” before returning to America in May to promote “Sex and the City 2.” It’s a hectic schedule, but one she’s happy to keep.

“I love my job,” she says. “It’s scary sometimes, and it’s lonely too, in the sense that you’re so far removed from your home life. There are times when you need that support just to get up on stage. But with the projects I’m doing, I’m happy with the choices I’ve been given and the ones I’ve made. I still get challenging roles, and that’s a great reward.”

The Ghost Writer

Ewan Mcgregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, Eli Wallach
Written by Robert Harris, Roman Polanski
Directed by Roman Polanski
Rated PG-13
Running time 1 hour 49 minutes

Offer she couldn’t refuse: Kim Cattrall says working with director Roman Polanski on “The Ghost Writer” was an opportunity she wouldn’t miss. 

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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