Kim Cattrall praised for playing faded Hollywood star on stage

Kim Cattrall speaks about her latest West End role

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Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall has said her latest stage role as a faded Hollywood actress resonates with her real-life experiences.

The 56-year-old admitted she had felt "very vulnerable" taking on the role of Alexandra Del Lago in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth.

The play, which opened this week at London's Old Vic theatre, is one of Williams' lesser known works.

The Daily Telegraph's five-star review said Cattrall was "on incendiary form".

Start Quote

I don't really feel old. I feel a little wiser, a lot more patient, and also more courageous”

End Quote Kim Cattrall

Thinking her comeback movie has flopped, Cattrall's character seeks sexual comfort in the arms of gigolo Chance Wayne, played by 26-year-old Broadway star Seth Numrich.

Speaking after Wednesday's opening night, Cattrall said it had been important to explore the issues that "a lot of women my age are dealing with".

These, she continued, included "feeling that you're still valid and you're still attractive and you still have something to say - that time has not passed you by.

"These are messages and things that I'm dealing with in real life, not just on the stage. So they resonate for me in a very specific way," she told the BBC.

"It's a great challenge, and I felt very vulnerable playing it and going there."

Kevin Spacey, artistic director at the Old Vic, said he had started "badgering" Cattrall about the role three or four years ago.

"When I first started at the Old Vic, I made a list of plays that I hoped one day that we would present - and this play was on that list," he said.

Kim Cattrall  in Sweet Bird of Youth Cattrall plays drink- and drug-addled movie star Alexandra Del Lago

"What I love about Kim is that any other actress would have taken her image and capitalised on that after Sex and the City, but this lady went to the theatre and worked her ass off."

The play is directed by Marianne Elliott, who was also behind the box-office hits War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

"Kim was one of the very last Hollywood artists to be signed by a studio for seven years," she told the BBC.

"So she absolutely understands what it means to be in the world of Hollywood and past your sell-by date once you reach a certain age."

"I don't think it's just Hollywood that's youth-obsessed," Cattrall continued.

"I think we're all youth-obsessed - and why not? It's great to be young. But I don't really feel old. I feel a little wiser, a lot more patient, and also more courageous.

"I was so worried when I was younger what people thought of me. Now I don't care as much. I care more about what I think of myself."

Reviews have been largely positive. The Arts Desk's Sam Marlowe said Cattrall was "ideally cast" and gives a "fearless, funny, imposing and poignant" performance.

The Independent's Paul Taylor agreed, noting: "Kim Cattrall seems to have cornered the market in raddled, imperiously camp divas."

"Sweet Bird of Youth certainly isn't a play for the faint-hearted, but boy does it deliver the theatrical goods," The Telegraph's Charles Spencer concluded.

Michael Billington's three-star review in The Guardian was more reserved, however.

"The cast... is as good as any you'll find in a national company," he wrote.

"Yet nothing can persuade me that the play is anything more than overheated melodrama all too rarely alleviated by Williams's instinct for comedy."

Sweet Bird of Youth runs at the Old Vic until 31 August.

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