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Most viewers recognize Canadian Kim Cattrall as the vivacious, sex-driven Samantha Jones on HBO’s long-running series Sex and the City. And really how could they not, given her Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning performance over six seasons and two movies?

But while that role was certainly defining for the starlet recently mistaken for Justin Trudeau’s mom, it by no means defines her. Especially now that she’s moved on to a ton of other projects, including a second season of her International Emmy-nominated series Sensitive Skin on HBO Canada.

On the six-part Canadian series that melds the real with the surreal, Cattrall plays Davina Jackson, a fifty-something mom whose son has flown the coop. In the first season, she and her husband Al (Don McKeller, who also directs) move to Toronto where the pair attempt to redefine themselves. That includes hanging out with the local drug dealer (Cle Bennet), dealing with an absurd brother-in-law (Colm Feore) and purchasing an artistic but completely disfunctional couch.

It’s a coming-of-age story meant for a different generation — one that has already done the things society expects of you (marriage, career, children), and is now wondering what comes next. In the second season that journey continues, especially for Davina following a cliffhanger Season 1 ending.

Sensitive Skin

“The first season of Sensitive Skin is about a couple. The second season is about a woman at this age starting again,” Cattrall tells us. “One of the reasons I wanted to do this series is because it was reflecting a lot of the questions I was having at this age. What is it like for a woman in her 50s to not know what the next three years can bring?”

The series, which is based on a British format, is the actress’s first time producing a television show as well. It’s a behind-the-scenes role Cattrall says she grew more familiar with during the second season, and one that allowed her to use her career to grow personally as well as professionally. And she’s got the best analogy to describe that transition, too.

“I see getting older as an expansive experience; I don’t see it as a limited experience. There are a lot of different ways to find fulfillment and that’s really what I wanted to be about at this age, to find things to do for the heck of it that I enjoy,” she explains. “To use my time to be curious about other things that I haven’t conquered. The key to feeling young is not in a pot of beauty cream. It’s less expensive and it’s right there in front of you: your appetite. It’s not about staying young, it’s about continuing to grow and with that comes change. And that change is not as acceptable to society because it’s not as aesthetically pleasing. But it’s so much more rewarding.”

That’s not to say that Cattrall hasn’t aged gracefully — Davina is still able to pull in the men with the best of them. And complicated romantic entanglements will always have their place in a dark comedy like this one. But as she moves forward, her personal journey involves both embracing her previous characters all while finding bits of herself in new ones like Davina.

“I say no to a lot of work now because I think I’ve seen that a million times. I don’t want to just do a series to keep busy,” she says. “The work I’m saying yes to is when I have something to say. I would like to talk about this. I would like to examine this. Because these are things that I’m dealing with, so why not use my work to grow? If I wanted to just play Samantha for the rest of my life, it would fun for a while but then I’d say, ‘Well what now?’ That’s why Davina is so different. Yeah there’s a lot of Samantha in me and I loved playing her, but there’s also a Davina in me and I want to give Davina a voice now.”

Given the subjects of the second season of Sensitive Skin — which range from apartment hunting, family drama and physically taking courses to “find your voice,” we’d say she’s doing a pretty bang-up job.

Samantha Jones would be proud.

 

Sensitive Skin returns Sunday, May 15 at 8:30 p.m. on HBO Canada.