Sex and the City ran for six seasons and was followed by two movies. The show ran from 1998-2004 and the last movie premiered in 2010. That is 12 years of bliss, not only for the viewers, but also for the actors involved. If you booked just one episode of Sex and the City, you were set! It took working actors and made them household names. It’s hard to forget characters like “the peeing politician” or “20-something sam” or “the guy with funky spunk.” As for the four main girls, they were well into their career before booking the series, but the series made them Hollywood royalty. Here is a list of what 15 of the actors from Sex and The City were up to before booking the show.
15 Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker was a working actor way before Sex and the City, and was well into her career before being asked if she would be interested in playing Carrie Bradshaw. She was approached by Darren Star and originally turned down the role and it was offered to a completely different actress. That actress is Lisa Edelstein of Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce. Then, Sarah Jessica Parker decided to sign on to SATC and the rest is history. Originally from Ohio, when she was just a child, the actress moved her entire family to New Jersey so she could be close to New York and audition for theatre. When she was 11 years old, she made her Broadway debut in the play, The Innocents, and then booked the Broadway musical, Annie as Annie, in 1979. She was in Footloose, L.A. Story, Honeymoon in Vegas, Hocus Pocus, Ed Wood, and, of course, The First Wives Club all before signing on as Miss Bradshaw.
14 Kim Cattrall
This may come as a surprise, but Kim Cattrall is originally from Liverpool, England. When she was three months old, her family moved to Vancouver, Canada. But at 11 years old, she went back to England and took classes at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) before going back to Canada at 16 to finish high school.
Before Samantha Jones, she starred in a whole bunch of iconic '80s movies like Porky's, Police Academy, Big Trouble in Little China and Mannequin. Yes, it is absolutely worth revisiting these movies and seeing her in action. Like SJP, she has also starred on the Broadway stage, and she performed in the original Broadway production of Wild Honey in 1986. But her role as Samantha Jones really made her a star.
13 Kristin Davis
Kristin Davis is originally from Boulder Colorado, but her and her family lived in South Carolina for most of her childhood. She then moved to New Jersey to attend Rutgers University and after graduating from Rutgers, Davis moved to New York City to become a star! Or, should I say, a waitress. She waited tables for a few years and she eventually opened a yoga studio with a friend after the frustration from going a few years and not booking any TV or film work.
Then, a few years passed and she booked everything. Out of the four leading ladies of Sex and the City, she has done the most TV work. She did General Hospital, Melrose Place, Friends, Will & Grace, and Seinfeld, just to name a few.
12 Cynthia Nixon
While Miranda Hobbes was said to be from Philadelphia, Cynthia Nixon is a New Yorker, born and bred. Nixon has been working consistently since she was very young. She made her onscreen debut on the show To Tell the Truth, where her mother worked. At 12 years old she booked a role on The Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid, an ABC Afterschool Special in 1979. She made her feature film debut in the movie Little Darlings, co-starring with Tatum O'Neal. In 1980, she made her Broadway debut as the character Dinah Lord in a 1980 revival of The Philadelphia Story. All of this was before she was 15 years old. While she was playing Miranda Hobbes, Nixon still made sure to do plays on Broadway, where her true passion lies.
11 Timothy Olyphant
Remember 20-something Sam? Early on in season one, Carrie tries to date a younger man and learns that while dating someone younger is fun and exciting, waking up in a twin-sized bed next to an empty pizza box and peeing in a bathroom with no toilet paper is no bueno. Twenty-something Sam was played by Timothy Olyphant before he was the star of Justified, Damages, Deadwood, The Office, and The Grinder. And even before Sex and the City, he was also in Scream 2 and The First Wives Club.
Originally from Modesto, California, Timothy stayed in California and studied Theatre and Fine Arts at USC and then eventually moved his family out to New York to study acting and really start his career.
10 Bradley Cooper
Before Bradley Cooper was THE Bradley Cooper, he was in an episode of Sex and the City. Don’t remember him from the show? You wouldn’t because the part was nothing to write home about. But the episode was pretty epic. In season two, episode one, Carrie picks up a guy named Jake and they are making out and he goes to get cigarettes and sees her less than flattering cover of New York Magazine at the newsstand. This was actually Cooper’s first television credit. Originally from Philadelphia, he went to Georgetown University in Washington DC and majored in English before moving to New York to enroll in the Masters of Fine Arts program at the Actors Studio Drama School at New School University. He did some theatre work at New York's Circle in the Square before transitioning into onscreen work.
9 John Slattery
Before Mad Men was even a thought in anyone’s mind, John Slattery played the peeing politician, Bill Kelley in Sex and the City. It was season two, and Bill Kelley seemed like the perfect guy, until he let his freak flag fly and told Carrie what he really wanted in bed. Before Sex and the City, Slattery was already well into his acting career. He started working consistently in television in 1988 when he booked Dirty Dozen: The Series and even starred in shows like Will & Grace and Judging Amy. Not only has he had a lot of success on TV, he has also had tremendous success onstage since 1993, when he made his Broadway debut starring alongside Nathan Lane in Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor."
8 Elizabeth Banks
Before Elizabeth Banks was known for The Hunger Games, Modern Family, The Lego Movie, and Pitch Perfect, Sex and the City was her fourth ever professional acting job. In season three, she has a 15-second cameo in the episode, “Politically Erect” as Catherine, the other half of a politician that Charlotte hits on at a party. Banks was born Elizabeth Mitchell, but had to change her name because there was already an actress of that name in the Screen Actors Guild. Originally from the Berkshires, Banks left home to attend the University of Pennsylvania and then studied at the Advanced Training Program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. When she graduated in 1996, she moved to New York and worked in the theater and booked a few small roles in TV and film. Eventually, she moved to LA to further her television and film career.
7 Kat Dennings
This 'Broke Girl' made her television debut on Sex and the City when she was just a teenager. In season three, in the episode named ”Hot Child in the City” she played a very spoiled and super entitled 13-year-old brat that hired Samantha to plan her Bat Mitzvah.
Dennings was born just outside of Philadelphia, and she is the youngest of five children. Kat always wanted to be an actor, and because she was auditioning at such a young age, she was predominantly home schooled and she graduated at only 14 years old. Her family moved out to Los Angeles, California to support Kat's acting full-time. Good thing they did, because she has 33 more acting credits under her belt since her little cameo on Sex and the City.
6 Jim Gaffigan
In the first episode of season four, Miranda meets Doug, a cartoonist for the New Yorker. Miranda was on the fence about her feelings for Doug because he was way too comfortable in front of her. She finally put on the breaks when Doug went “number 2” with the door open. And as Carrie said, “an open door dump is worth dumping someone over.”
Doug was played by Jim Gaffigan well before the standup comedian was a Grammy winner, and had his own TV show that he wrote, produced, and starred in on TV Land. Before Sex and the City, he went to Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and then moved to New York after graduating. He found a job in advertising, took acting classes at night, and a friend dared him to take a standup workshop. He accepted the dare and fell in love with standup. The rest is history.
5 Justin Theroux
Justin Theroux, also known as Jennifer Aniston’s husband, is also known for his work in the The Leftovers, Wanderlust, Parks and Recreation, and more. But before he was Mr. Aniston, he was on Sex and the City… twice. But not only in two different episodes, but he played two different characters, and both of them were writers. In season one, he played a writer named Jared who was one of New York magazine's "30 Coolest People Under 30." In season two, he played writer, Vaughn Wysel. You would remember him for either his premature ejaculation or you remember him because Carrie fell in love with his liberal Upper West Side family, but didn’t necessarily fall in love with him. Although his role on SATC was early on in his career, he was also in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Ally McBeal, and Spin City before he made it big.
4 Andy Cohen
Yes, you read that right. Before Andy Cohen was the face of Bravo TV, he was a shoe salesman on Sex and The City. In season six, in the episode “Let There Be Light” Cohen had no lines, but his smile lit up the screen. He is a very good friend of Sarah Jessica Parker in real life so I have a feeling it was her idea to put him in the scene. This was his only “acting” role that is not Bravo-related and that he did not play himself. Before The Real Housewives and Watch What Happens Live, Cohen went to Boston University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism. He interned at CBS News and eventually worked there for 10 years. He then became Vice President of original programming for the network Trio and then Cohen joined Bravo in 2004 when the network purchased Trio.
3 Will Arnett
In season two, Miranda picks up a guy named Jack in a used bookstore and she has what Carrie calls "the best first date in history." That is, until he shows her that he has a little fetish and that is having sex in public places. Jack was played by Will Arnett. This was pre-marrying Amy Poehler, pre-30 Rock, pre-Arrested Development and pre-The Millers.
Originally from Toronto, this bad boy was sent to boarding school, but was kicked out for bad behavior. He auditioned for commercials here and there in Canada, but in 1990, he moved to New York City to study acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. His first professional role was in an independent film called Erie, with Felicity Huffman.
2 Vince Vaughn
The girls go on a girl’s trip to LA and along the way, Carrie meets Keith Travers, a funny tall drink of water who tells her that he is Matt Damon’s agent. They have a fun little fling and they eventually wind up sleeping together. While in bed together, they are walked in on by Carrie Fisher and we find out the truth. Keith Travers is not an agent at all and he is actually Carrie Fisher’s personal assistant. Vince Vaughn plays Keith and this cameo is well before Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, and The Breakup. And a few years before Sex and the City, there was 21 Jump Street, Doogie Howser M.D, and his breakout performance as Trent in Swingers.
1 Bobby Cannavale
Sex and the City taught us all about Manolos, single life in Manhattan, and funky spunk. In season three, Bobby Cannavale plays Adam Ball who leaves Samantha with a bad taste in her mouth. Literally. And it doesn’t get any better no matter how many shots of wheatgrass that Samantha makes him take. Originally a stage actor in New York City, Cannavale transitioned into film roles with the help of films like Night Falls on Manhattan and The Bone Collector. Then, he booked Sex and the City and this is where his career really took off. He did two seasons of Third Watch, was in the last five episodes of Ally Mcbeal, Will & Grace, Six Feet Under, Oz, Law & Order, and the list goes on and on.