clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Brief History of the Feud Between Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall

Shady acceptance speeches, lunch cliques, interviews with Andy Cohen—the conflict between these two ‘Sex and the City’ castmates has been messy, long-lasting, and far-reaching, especially considering the news that Cattrall won’t be back for the HBO Max revival

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February 12, 2018. With the news that Kim Cattrall will not be appearing in HBO Max’s revival of Sex and the City, it has been updated at the bottom with two new entries.

For actors, great chemistry on screen doesn’t necessarily translate to great off-screen friendships. Hollywood’s history is dotted with toxic, often petty feuds, from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the ’60s to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the ’80s to Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the ’90s to Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Tyrese just last year. But perhaps no feud in recent history has turned as venomous or stretched out as excruciatingly long as the one between former Sex and the City costars Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker, who at this point basically deserve their own season of Ryan Murphy’s Feud. Just this past weekend, Cattrall relaunched the conflict by posting on Instagram that Parker is “not my family” and “not my friend.”

It’s fair to say that Sex and the City is one of the most culturally important TV shows of the past two decades. It was a bona fide hit, offering a female-driven narrative at a time when those kinds of stories were still noticeably scarce in the television landscape. It got six seasons and two movies, the sort of the success that’d make Dan Harmon blush. However, much like how the Fast & Furious franchise is now teetering on implosion thanks to Tyrese and Dwayne Johnson’s Insta-squabbles, Cattrall and Parker’s feud has all but ended the Sex and the City cinematic universe. At one point, a third SATC movie was in the works, but now that seems extremely unlikely. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un will probably compliment each other on Twitter before Cattrall and Parker make up — that’s how tense things are right now.

To figure out how we got here, and what went wrong between these two stars, it helps to know the history, which is deep and contentious. Without further ado, here is a timeline of the actresses’ ridiculous, arduous, extremely shady beef. Bring your biggest Thermos, this is a lot of tea.

2003–04: Awards Season Shade

At this time, Sex and the City was wrapping up its run as a series and picking up its final haul of trophies from the Golden Globes and Emmy awards. Now, perhaps I’m reading too much into cast reactions, but when Cattrall won Best Supporting Actress at the 2003 Golden Globes for Season 5 and generously thanked her costars, they didn’t seem particularly thrilled. Just look at Cynthia Nixon, who was nominated in the same category, when Cattrall singles her out by calling her “my heart.”

Someone just compared you to the most important organ in the human body and your response is to solemnly nod?!

Not to be outdone, when Cattrall thanked “the great Sarah Jessica Parker,” the great Sarah Jessica Parker stared her down like a robot bringing itself back online in Westworld.

This could’ve been the catalyst for the following year’s Emmys, when, according to The Telegraph, Cattrall was “conspicuously [sitting] alone” during the ceremony. (That year, Nixon took the Supporting Actress Emmy over Cattrall.) However, since the series was over by then, it appeared the feud — if it even existed at that point — could be put to rest.

2008: Sad Desk Lunches

Four years removed from the end of the series, this was the year of the first Sex and the City movie. It raked in a ton of cash, but The Telegraph reported that during filming, tensions divided the principal cast. It was Parker, Kristin Davis, and Nixon against Cattrall — according to one crew member, the other women “wouldn’t even sit with [Cattrall] at mealtimes.”

Just think about how ridiculous that must’ve looked at the time — three main cast members ignoring a costar at lunch like the Plastics in Mean Girls. (Did Parker demand that Davis and Nixon wear pink on Wednesdays, too? Was Cattrall eating some very relatable sad desk lunches?) For what it’s worth, Davis denied this ever happened in a 2010 interview with Marie Claire by basically saying she ordered room service instead. “When I would get back from the set, I would go to the gym and get room service. I’m not a put-on-decent-clothes-and-go-to-the-hotel-restaurant person, but Kim is,” she said. Davis was definitely just trying to extinguish the flames, and for the most part she did, but if you’re trying to find hints of loathing — which I am, because to suss out pettiness one must think pettily — you can even detect a bit of shade in that quote. Oh, that Kim Cattrall and her FANCY RESTAURANT LUNCHES.

Anyway, in that same interview, Nixon added, “It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but the idea that we’re somehow adversarial is ludicrous.” And Cattrall summed it up best to The Telegraph: “Are we the best of friends? No. We’re professional actresses. We have our own separate lives.” Lives, apparently, that require ordering room service instead of eating out with your frenemy.

2009–10: Actually, Everything Is Fine

In the lead-up to the second Sex and the City movie, both Parker and Cattrall dispelled the rumors that they didn’t get along while filming the series. “I don’t think anybody wants to believe that I love Kim,” Parker told Elle in 2009. “I adore her. I wouldn’t have done the movie without her. Didn’t and wouldn’t.” Added Cattrall in 2010, speaking with Marie Claire: “The press has to put women in these boxes, rather than show them as the movie portrays them: working together and being powerful. Things just have to be explosive for no other reason than for people’s imaginations.”

Despite a 16 percent “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, clocking in at 146 minutes, and winning three Razzies, Sex and the City 2 was another box office hit. All’s well that ends well, and Cattrall and Parker appeared to be riding off into the Dubai desert on camelback with bags of money and the feud on the backburner. And then …

2016–17: A Third Movie, Kim Wants Out, Shade Is Thrown

In December 2016, Radar Online claimed that a third Sex and the City movie was on the way, with filming to take place in the summer of 2017. The report went unconfirmed, but Parker stoked the fire by teasing a third movie every chance she got.

However, in September 2017, Parker confirmed to Extra that the third movie wasn’t happening. “I’m disappointed,” she said. “We had this beautiful, funny, heartbreaking, joyful, very relatable script and story. It’s not just disappointing that we don’t get to tell the story and have that experience, but more so for that audience that has been so vocal in wanting another movie.”

The statement was harmless enough; Parker was clearly upset they weren’t making another movie, but she wasn’t calling anyone out by name. However, on the same day that Parker spoke with Extra, The Daily Mail reported that plans to make the third movie were shut down because of Cattrall’s steep demands — before agreeing to participate, she reportedly asked that Warner Bros. also produce other projects she was developing. The next day, Cattrall responded to The Daily Mail’s report by calling it a “*poop emoji* storm.” (Cher would be proud of this emoji use.)

We’re only getting started. That same day, recurring Sex and the City actor Willie Garson — who played Stanford Blatch, the gay friend of Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw — subtweeted Cattrall in the most overt way possible:

The following month, Cattrall sat down with human troll Piers Morgan to give her side of the story. But instead of clearing the air — as celebrities typically do in these kinds of interviews — Cattrall tossed a grenade into a pile of TNT. “This is really where I take to task the people from Sex and the City and specifically Sarah Jessica Parker in that I think she could have been nicer,” Cattrall said. “I really think she could have been nicer. I don’t know what her issue is.” Oh shit. There are rules of fair play in celebrity feuding, and maybe the biggest one is that you don’t name names. The drama by this point is at DEFCON 3, because Cattrall named that name, man. Things can only get darker from there.

2018: OK, We’re at DEFCON 1

And what do ya know — things got darker. Parker started off the year by addressing the Cattrall fallout on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, by FAR the shadiest late-night show. “I found it very upsetting because that’s not the way I recall our experience,” Parker said. “It’s sad.” Again, Parker defaulted to being diplomatic, not saying anything that explicitly insulted her former costar. Maybe she was earnestly upset about the back and forth and how nasty things had turned; maybe she was trying to make herself look good in the public eye — maybe it was a bit of both. Regardless, this wasn’t particularly flammable stuff.

Things didn’t go completely overboard until Cattrall announced at the start of February that her brother, Chris, had died. Parker expressed her condolences for Cattrall’s loss, both in interviews and on social media. This is where Cattrall drew the line.

“Your continuous reaching out is a painful reminder of how cruel you really were then and now,” Cattrall wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday. “Let me make this VERY clear. (If I haven’t already) You are not my family. You are not my friend. So I’m writing to tell you one last time to stop exploiting our tragedy in order to restore your ‘nice girl’ persona.”

Cattrall ended the post by linking to a New York Post story from October that supports what The Telegraph had previously reported, that a “mean-girls culture” on the set had the other costars “leaving Cattrall out in the cold.”

(And finally, on Monday, Parker’s castmate on Divorce, Molly Shannon, said that Parker is “supportive,” because this feud is so far-reaching that even Mary Katherine Gallagher is getting pulled into it.)

[Deep breath]

And that’s where we are now. No one’s coming out of this looking good. I can’t stress that enough: This entire thing is out of control, and a Parker-Cattrall season of Feud is what we all deserve, with Ryan Murphy pulling a Clint Eastwood and letting the actresses play themselves. I can’t wait for the reenactment of fraught, on-set mealtimes.

Update, January 12, 2021:

2019: “Just Replace Me, Cowards” —Kim Cattrall, Basically

In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian in August 2019, Cattrall made it abundantly clear that she’s done with her most famous role. “I went past the finish line playing Samantha Jones because I loved Sex and the City,” she said. “It was a blessing in so many ways but after the second movie I’d had enough.” (So did the rest of the world, apparently: Sex and the City 2 has a 16 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)

And while Cattrall didn’t address any of her castmates specifically—not that she needed to a year after an Instagram post in which she said Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t her family or friend—the actress did go on record endorsing the idea that someone ought to just re-cast her character. “I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just replace me with another actress instead of wasting time bullying,” she added. “No means no.”

[Clears throat.] Watch this space.

2020: And Just Like That …

On January 10, HBO Max, the struggling yet low-key best-bang-for-your-buck streaming service, announced that a Sex and the City revival is happening—with a caveat. Only three of the four original stars are coming back for And Just Like That. (Sidenote: We need an internal investigation into why this reboot isn’t going to be called I Couldn’t Help but Wonder.) The holdout? You guessed it: Kim Cattrall.

Without the sex-positive Samantha on the revival of a hit series in which “sex” was the first word of its actual title, Sex and the City fans are outraged. (Not that Cattrall would’ve wanted to be a part of it; she did straight-up suggest that they just replace her a year ago.) “‘Sex and the City’ Revival Must Address Cutting the Show’s Most Sex-Positive Character” reads the headline of a passionate and convincing Variety column; “There Is No ‘Sex and the City’ Without Samantha” argues Rolling Stone; “Please stop the ‘Sex and the City’ reboot,” the New York Post pleads more bluntly.

While teasing the new limited series in an Instagram post, Parker addressed the elephant in the room, saying that Cattrall isn’t going to be part of the reboot because the two actresses have a highly publicized feud. “I don’t dislike her,” Parker wrote. “I’ve never said that. Never would. Samantha isn’t part of this story. But she will always be part of us.” I couldn’t help but wonder … if this is all bullshit.