Cynthia Nixon reprized her role as lawyer Miranda Hobbes on HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” follow-up “And Just Like That …,” this time adding in a new wrinkle to her character as a queer woman exploring romance with stand-up comic Che Diaz (played by Sara Ramirez). Her 2022 also included a turn in HBO’s “The Gilded Age.” Meanwhile, Bowen Yang brought his frank and fresh perspective to NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” where he completed his third season as a cast member.
Bowen Yang: I wonder how it must have felt to go back into playing Miranda as an actor who probably experienced closure many different times.
CYNTHIA NIXON: After the second movie, I was like, there will not be anything more. We’re done.
YANG: I believed you.
NIXON: I believed me, too. The only downside to Miranda is when you’re so identified with a character, other kinds of roles can elude you until you get some distance from that.
YANG: You feel like you got that distance?
NIXON: I got to play Emily Dickinson. I got to do all of these things. The characters have always been allowed to evolve, so it was fun to go back with everything that had happened to the actors and the characters in the meantime.
YANG: I heard you say that you didn’t want to put up new wallpaper. You wanted to build a new house.
NIXON: That was me. That’s going to elicit a strong response. But it’s transformative. Things change.
YANG: Being able to direct an episode of “And Just Like That…” was probably a really interesting experience.
NIXON: I had directed some plays, but directing on film is a whole other thing. I was unprepared for how supportive everybody would be. I assumed that they would be game and willing, but it was almost like they were all my parents.
YANG: wow. Because that’s not a guarantee, especially in an episode where there’s a lot happening. It was the one where Carrie moves, and then Miranda realizes that she is obsessed with Che. You were having to steward a lot of movement in the story.
NIXON: And for all the angish that happens earlier in this series, it’s the moment of breaking through and starting again.
YANG: And for all the discourse around it, I hope everyone realizes that the discourse is a compliment. The discourse is something we don’t get anymore.
NIXON: When people would say negative things, [executive producer, writer and director] Michael Patrick King would be like, “It’s fantastic. We’re having a water-cooler moment.”
YANG: Do you mind talking about that scene in the kitchen with Che? It’s so magnificent what you did.
NIXON: [Episode writer] Samantha Irby was telling us all about that scene before we ever got to read it. Having a queer woman in the writers’ room writing this queer sex scene, my wife was like, “I know it’s going to be hot and I know it’s going to be real.” We had an intimacy coordinator and we tried to do it different ways. Miranda, in the next episode, keeps having fantasies. And so we were going to shoot it at the same time, but make it look different, because things look different when we remember them than when they’re actually happening.
YANG: It’s a piercing thing. What I think is remarkable is that you had to sell that moment in the kitchen as life-changing. You have to believe that she’s going to rearrange everything about her life.
NIXON: And you have to feel both the sexual jolt and also the emotional breakdown that happens later, not just that this thing that happens is earth-shattering, but also that she’s been in winter for so long. It’s both of those things. Can I ask about performing live and whether it’s excruciating? I’m on stage, but I’ve rehearsed for a month and had my script for much longer.
YANG: Unlike theater, you’re reading off a cue card. You’re pitching to the rafters while also trying to play to the camera. A movie set doesn’t work like that. You’re supposed to memorize your lines. The beautiful thing about working at “SNL” is that you know on Saturday if something that you thought of on Tuesday succeeds or fails. You’re supposed to wrap on a movie and then wait two years.
NIXON: And see what’s left of what you did. Is there a range of how nervous people are?
YANG: I think there is this high baseline of nerves — it’s Saturday and there’s loud saxophone music playing that gets you in the zone. But this is a very 2020s way of working at “SNL”: now everyone meditates. Everyone finds ways to align their chakras. But I still get this adrenaline rush any time I go on stage.
variety‘s “Actors on Actors” is presented by Apple TV+.