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Big in New York: 20 years of „Sex and the City“

He is the face of New York. No other film and TV actor stars in more shows capturing the spirit of New York than Chris Noth. He chases the criminals of the Big Apple as a detective in “Law & Order” and “Criminal Intent.” He rose to global fame as “Mr. Big” in “Sex and the City” as the man of Sarah Jessica Parker's dreams in 96 TV episodes and two movies. For seven years, he impersonated a corrupt politician in the CBS series “The Good Wife”—a role that is more relevant than ever these days. Chris Noth changed his schedule for the exclusive OOOM cover story and flew from London to New York a day early. In our interview, the actor talks about his exciting career, his turbulent youth, the blessing and curse of the success of “Sex and the City,” about New York as it was and is, the decline of American politics and his own mortality.

Herbert Bauernebel19. Juli 2018 No Comments

Four globally successful TV sets in New York helmed by one star: Chris Noth, leading man in “Sex and the City” and “Law and Order.” 

Some TV shows are etched into our memories. We associate a certain period of our lives with them; certain emotions, experiences, circumstances of the time that shaped us. And later, whenever we see the faces of the actors in those shows flicker across the screen, we feel transported back to the time we first saw them.

“Sex and the City” was a show like that; a TV phenomenon that changed the perception of women at the turn of the millennium. Sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) chats with her friends about dates, affairs and sexual preferences, without inhibitions and during prime time. In a total of six series, the four protagonists turn New York into a stage for sexual conquests and relationship dramas. At once, it seemed, small talk about sex had arrived in the otherwise often prudish New York. As the stories and dramas unfolded, only one man would prove a match for Carrie Bradshaw: entrepreneur John James Preston, dubbed Mr. Big due to his hulking stature, the love of Carrie Bradshaw’s life.

Four shows–one star. That’s a long time ago now, Chris Noth says with a smile, leaning into the beige couch. We’re in a suite in Hotel Beacon, located in New York’s Upper West Side. Noth flew in from London a day early, changing his plans to accommodate the OOOM cover shooting in New York, the city his entire career revolved around. It may not be too much of a stretch to say Chris Noth is the face of New York. He starred in as many as four of the most successful TV shows set in New York—an unparalleled presence. Before his stint on “Sex and the City,” Noth played the role of Mike Logan in “Law & Order.” Later, he would solve crimes again as a detective in “Criminal Intent.” Between 2009 and 2016, he brilliantly embodied corrupt politician and serial adulterer Peter Florrick in the hit show “The Good Wife.” In addition to widespread acclaim, the latter role garnered Noth a Golden Globe Nomination.

The brand Chris Noth. For his fans, Noth is an icon of New York, almost on par with the Empire State Building or Barneys. “Sex and the City,” this ode to rumpled sheets and pillow talk in the Big Apple, is one of the most successful TV shows of all time. It made Chris Noth a global superstar and transformed him into an unmistakable brand: an imposing build and towering stature, a striking, chiseled face, dreamy eyes and a winning smile. And then this deep, booming, yet at the same time soothing voice. Chris Noth conquered the hearts of women around the world and won over an enormous TV audience. His handshake is strong, he wears a slightly battered, brown leather jacket, shirt buttons wide open. Slung over his shoulder, he carries a dark suit, ironed and wrapped in transparent plastic, which he has just picked up from a dry cleaner.

No entourage. Chris arrives alone: no entourage, no PR man, no assistant. He is uncomplicated, pleasant and friendly, despite the poor weather. A cold drizzle whips down onto the streets outside and the skyline is overcast and leaden. On Broadway, right in front of the hotel, endless masses of pedestrians push past beneath a roof of hundreds of umbrellas. Today, the New Yorkers, otherwise such a dynamic people, seem slow and grim-faced in the dreary weather. Temperatures have plummeted one last time before summer once again envelops the city.

“The weather wasn’t much better in London,” says Noth presently, taking a big swig of beer. Then we head out into the rain, onto the roof of Hotel Beacon. Even though he’s soaked to the skin in a matter of minutes, Noth remains as professional throughout, as one would expect. He poses, laughs, wipes the rain from his face.

City of multi-millionaires. While changing outfits several times, the star actor talks about how New York, the city where he broke through, the city that provided the stage for his global success with “Sex and the City,” has changed. The Big Apple has changed radically; it has transformed into a glittering world of luxury towers erected for multi-millionaires from all over the world. The flair of the old days, Noth believes, is gone, and with it the daring, creative, often strangely optimistic mood, the tooth and claw fight for survival that unleashed so much creative energy in the past. Large chains have pushed out small family businesses, every other corner seems to house a bank branch, and the nightlife is dominated by college bars. The good old salon where one could drink a relaxed glass of whisky in a slightly weird ambience has become a rarity. For that reason, Noth has opened his own bar, The Cutting Room, which he sees as his contribution to keeping the original spirit of the artistic, innovative metropolis alive.

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