The Transformation Of Kim Cattrall From Childhood To 64 Years Old

Kim Cattrall has dedicated most of her life to acting, having always had a soft spot for theater — which probably speaks a bit to her British heritage. But it was TV that shot the Liverpool-born Canadian actor to stardom and transformed her into a household name. As the 40-something fiery and successful Samantha Jones, Cattrall helped "Sex and the City" become one of the early HBO shows that gave rise to the so-called Golden Age of Television, or "revolution," as the Financial Times pointed out. "The 1990s and early 2000s saw an explosion of television options as prestige programmers such as HBO and Showtime ramped up their output, and when breakout series such as 'Sex and the City' reigned supreme," the publication noted.

Cattrall's portrayal of Samantha earned her a long list of accolades, including a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Samantha is often regarded as the soul of "Sex and the City," as The Atlantic argued, with Screen Rant ranking her first on its list of best characters in the wildly popular series. "Even more than Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones has come to represent what 'Sex and the City' was all about," its author argued. 

But Cattrall's successful — and often controversial — journey began way before she invaded our homes with the sexual confidence and sassy one-liners of Samantha Jones. She has been acting since adolescence and continues to deliver stunning performances, particularly on stage. Keep scrolling to check out Cattrall's transformation over the years. 

British by birth, Kim Cattrall immigrated to Canada as a baby

Kim Cattrall comes from a middle class family based in Liverpool, United Kingdom. After World War II, her mother, a secretary, and her father, a construction engineer, moved the family across the pond and eventually settled on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, she said on the "Bookshelfie" podcast in 2020. "They slowly but surely made their way west, which reflected more of the climate that they were used to, you know, cool summers and mild winters. So this is where I grew up — between here and Liverpool," she said.

As a child, Cattrall loved CBS' "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which centered around a career-oriented woman. "I loved that fantasy of being single and having a job that you love and a workplace filled with people who are eccentric and dysfunctional," she told Chatelaine. Her parents had a huge impact on her, having raised her to dream big. "Dad was always telling me, 'You can do anything.' So I grew up thinking that if he believed in me, I could do whatever I put my mind to," she told The Guardian in 2019.

Her mother's childhood struggles also inspired Cattrall to become a strong woman. "My mother's [...] father abandoned my grandmother, leaving her in terrible poverty [...]. As I've got older that's inspired me to want to tell stories about real women who are not Superwoman but need extraordinary powers to survive, like my grandmother," she told The Guardian.

Kim Cattrall fell in love with acting after seeing 'As You Like It'

When she was 11, Kim Cattrall's family moved back to Liverpool to be near her ailing grandmother, according to The Scotsman. Back in her native land, Cattrall went to see a stage production of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It." Seeing the performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company planted a deep seed. "I don't know how you explain those moments in your life. I've just read Patti Smith's memoir, 'Just Kids,' and she talks about seeing The Doors and the same thing happening. Well, when I saw Janet Suzman's Rosalind on stage it happened to me," she told the newspaper.

Cattrall enrolled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, one of the country's oldest drama schools, according to i news. She graduated at 16, becoming one of the school's youngest graduates, per The Scotsman. Upon graduation, she returned to Canada to continue improving her craft and soon moved to New York City to kickstart her career. She continued to finesse her skills in academic settings, enrolling in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, according to Hello! 

Cattrall landed her first film role in Otto Preminger's "Rosebud," which was released in March 1975 when she was only 18 years old. That early experience exposed her to the brutal world of Hollywood, with the director telling her, "Darling, you remind me of Marilyn Monroe — not in looks, of course, but in lack of talent," per The Scotsman.

Kim Cattrall came to prominence in the 1980s with sexy roles

Kim Cattrall's early days in Los Angeles quickly showed her that Otto Preminger was not an exception. "I got to LA and they said I had to lose weight, let my hair grow and buy some dresses. I was nailing auditions with my readings but they wouldn't hire me because I wasn't putting on the glam. It just didn't occur to me. I didn't think I had to become something else. I thought the thing I would become would be the character. But they wanted me to come in and look sexy and winsome," she told The Scotsman.

But she trudged through. In the 1970s, she starred in TV shows, including "Columbo," "Blindfold," and "Starsky & Hutch," and made-for-TV films, like "The Bastard" (1978) and "The Rebels" (1979). She came to prominence in the 1980s when she snagged a role opposite Jack Lemmon in the critically acclaimed film "Tribute" (1980). Throughout the decade, the starred in successful projects, including "Ticket to Heaven," "Porky's" and the box office hit "Police Academy." 

While Cattrall nailed her sexy film roles, she also portrayed more complex characters in theater. In fact, she filmed John Carpenter's cult classic "Big Trouble in Little China" (1986) during the day and starred in Anton Chekhov's play "Three Sisters" at night, she told Metro. "My film career subsidized my theatre career. If I only did theatre I would have had to waitress and I didn't want to waitress," she said.

Kim Cattrall shot to fame as Samantha Jones in 'Sex and the City'

While film and theater marked Kim Cattrall's early career, it was TV that cemented her fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1998, Cattrall introduced us to Samantha Jones, the confident and empowered public relations professional who let nothing stop her in the HBO hit show "Sex and the City." The series, while flawed and certainly problematic at times, helped to launch HBO as the leading network of original programing, alongside "The Sopranos" (1999-2007) and "The Wire" (2002-2008), as The New Yorker argued. 

For her performance, Cattrall earned five Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe nominations, taking home the latter in 2003, in addition to two Screen Actors Guild awards as an ensemble that included her co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis. While "Sex and the City" made Cattrall a star, it also came with plenty of gossip and controversy over the years.

The media incessantly speculated about enduring drama between the co-stars, particularly between Cattrall and Parker. Both repeatedly denied having ill feelings toward one another, but issues became evident after Cattrall declined to star in a third "SATC" movie in 2016, to which Parker admitted being "disappointed," she told Extra TV. "[SATC] was a blessing in so many ways but after the second movie I'd had enough. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't just replace me with another actress instead of wasting time bullying," Cattrall told The Guardian.

Kim Cattrall continues to shine on stage following 'Sex and the City'

Her portrayal of Samantha Jones continues to be the highlight of Kim Cattrall's career. Those years also marked the beginning and end of her third marriage. After tying the knot in 1998, she and audio designer Mark Levinson divorced in 2004. "['Sex and the City'] cost me my marriage, because I was never home," Cattrall told The grueling schedule also prevented her from having children. "There was a really wonderful outcome that I could be a mother in a different way, and using my work to do that has been really satisfying."

Becoming associated with a TV character can hinder an actor's' career after the series' conclusion. But Cattrall continued to find meaningful work, partly thanks to theater, Metro argued. Since her days in the popular HBO series, she has shined on stage in "Antony And Cleopatra," "Private Lives" and "Sweet Bird of Youth." "I'm not expecting much work in Hollywood, to be honest. People stick to film because they tend to get offered the same roles over and over again, and it's safe. But I'm not interested in doing that," she told Metro.

That's partly why Cattrall has also turned to producing. "There is a feeling of being overlooked or dismissed," she told "But I refuse to take that as a sign that it doesn't mean there isn't a possibility we could produce and provide stories for women this age and at this time."