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Living Large

From “Law and Order’s” Detective Mike Logan to “Sex and the City’s” Mr. Big, Chris Noth keeps stretching the boundaries of his acting career.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Chris Noth, May/June 2010

(continued from page 1)

"The first film had a different feeling from the series because it dealt more with issues that people have. In the series, the relationships were not as dramatic; there weren't as many breakups. The first one was about the things people face, the intense day-to-day reality that people face in a marriage, that they need to overcome to get closer. The second one deals with some of that. But the girls have a grand adventure and that's a big part of the movie."

Michael Patrick King, who wrote and directed both films, said in an e-mail interview, "Our journey over the years has been to keep making Mr. Big more and more real as he became more real to Carrie. And this journey continues in the new movie. I think you see even more new colors in Chris's performance, which was very exciting to me as a director. Chris has the charisma, sexuality and the humor to make the unattainable part of Mr. Big tolerable. The audience sees something in Mr. Big that they feel is worth that struggle to try to attain. And men like Mr. Big because he seems authentic to them...and a little inspirational."

While fans of the show relished the romance between Carrie and Big -in all its on-again, off-again glory-what made the show a phenomenon was the powerful sisterhood of its four female leads: "The friendship equation makes it special," Noth says. "You can't forget the bond these girls have. And the city was also a big part of it. It was New York-and the friendship of the women."

Still, King says, "The entire arc of the six years of the television series and now two films has been Carrie's effort to find happiness with John James Preston, aka Mr. Big. None of it would have worked or even been possible if Chris Noth's Mr. Big was not worth that effort. He had to be a complicated and ultimately a noble guy or Carrie would have seemed a fool. Chris is the man that audiences have loved for over 12 years. That's a major accomplishment."

Noth takes pride in being part of the show's legacy: "When you think of the things that came out of that show-the fascination with Carrie's wardrobe, with the name of shoe designers, with Cosmopolitans-I mean, fashion is a big, important industry in New York and ‘Sex and the City' helped contribute to that. It's more a part of our pop culture now.

"Hey, there are tour buses that offer the ‘Sex and the City' tour and show people where the girls shopped for shoes, things like that. That's pretty interesting. If that exists, it shows it's reached a point of no return. No one's going to start a ‘Law & Order' tour: ‘And here's where Lenny found a dead hooker.' "

With his dark good looks and deep voice, Noth would seem to be a fish out of water in the "Sex and the City" milieu: a man's man among the girliest of girls. Not so, Parker says.

"I don't think he's a man's man or a woman's man," she says. "He really enjoys the company of both sexes. He loves conversation and is certainly not muted in any environment. At this point, we have been working together for 12 or 13 years and he and I get on like a house on fire."

If anything, Parker says, fans might be surprised at some of Noth's tastes in popular entertainment: "First of all, he's a great and devoted poetry fan," she says. "He loves to talk about his favorite poets and who was the most influential in his life. The second surprising thing might be that he is a massive (Stephen) Sondheim fan. He knows every song, every show."

"Oh, I've listened to Sondheim all my adult life," Noth says enthusiastically, nibbling at another bit of toast and sipping a beer. "It's interesting that a gay man was able to write the most telling song ever of what it's like for a man to be married. It's in his show, ‘Company,' called ‘Sorry/Grateful.' It's probably the most insightful song about some of the questions men have.

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