Kristin Davis: What Charlotte did next

As her first major film since 'Sex and the City' opens, Kristin Davis tells Elaine Lipworth it's been a tough couple of years
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The Independent Culture

It has been more than two years since the last episode of Sex and The City, yet all four actresses who starred in the show are still inextricably identified with the characters they portrayed. When it ended, Kristin Davis, who played well-bred Charlotte York, was under no illusions. While fans continue to be fascinated by her, that attention does not necessarily translate into interesting work. There was talk of a film version of SATC but it never materialised. "It was a big adjustment after the show. It had been such an intense experience and I really missed the girls. There was a period when I thought 'OK, I'll have a rest, go to the movies, hike with the dogs', then when the film fell apart I was like, 'huh'.

"I wondered if I'd ever work again. We used to have this safety net, we used to know that every year we were going to go back to work and have this wonderful unit, and we didn't have that any more. Sometimes it's still a little scary not knowing. The good part is that it's an adventure and you don't know what's going to happen."

Given the phenomenal salaries all the women were paid, she could be living comfortably on investments. But at 41, Davis is not interested in retirement. "Obviously it's not a monetary concern, it's mostly that I enjoy working. It's a drug. I get bored sitting at home."

She was offered plenty of unusual scripts, she says, but not exactly the kind she was hoping for. "I was offered a role as a drug-dealing, gun-dealing butch girl with a crew cut. I suppose they thought it would be fabulous because people would say 'Oh my God, Charlotte with drugs.'"

The film she chose instead looks like a soft option. She plays the baffled wife of a lawyer who turns into a bearded collie, in the Disney remake of the 1959 film The Shaggy Dog. But Davis is convincing as interior designer Rebecca Douglas, exasperated because her husband, Dave, played by Tim Allen, is a workaholic city attorney who is consumed by his career.

"I really wanted to make the film because I love dogs and I love comedy, and I'm happy that I can take my grandmother Flossie to this film. She is adorable and refuses to say the title of the show I used to be on, and of course she wouldn't watch it, so it's really nice that I can say: 'Let's take grandma to the movies.'

"It was just fun. I always aim to work with people who make me feel good and raise my spirits. One of the most exciting things was trying to change the image of mothers in the movies. I think there's a whole history of moms wearing khakis and jeans shirts. They all look the same. So I wore interesting jewellery, jackets designed by Vivienne Westwood. I think I drove the wardrobe department crazy because I was so demanding."

Dressed in Prada herself, Davis says fashion has inevitably influenced her over the past decade but insists that looks do not define her. "I am definitely not a fashionista," she says. "I can't live up to that title, I don't want to. Also, I think fashion can have a very negative impact on young people who feel they have to be thin. A lot of young actresses are really unhealthy. It didn't happen to me when I was younger because I grew up in South Carolina in a very secure environment."

Davis now lives in Los Angeles and conforms to the typical Californian lifestyle - no booze, early nights and yoga. "I haven't had a drink in 16 years. I think we all drank too much in our twenties and I was always aware that I had a problem. It was getting to the point where alcohol was getting in my way. In New York, I would get up at seven in the morning to start classes at acting school and I was always hungover. So I thought: 'Well, this isn't going to work.'

"I've been performing since I was 10, I always knew what I wanted to do with my life. That's why it was easy to stop drinking. It became clear that both my passions, for drinking and acting, were not able to coexist and one had to go." After attending Rutgers University in New Jersey, Davis moved to New York. She had a variety of stage roles and parts in soaps before Sex and the City came along.

Since the show ended, her only other film has been The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. But she is about to spend a few months in London, starring in a production of The Exonerated. The play tells the true story of a group of six Americans who were wrongly convicted and put on Death Row. There are no firm plans following The Exonerated. The clichés about older women in Hollywood are all too true, she says. "I do think that in Hollywood it gets harder. There are so many brilliant older actresses. We don't see enough of Debra Winger or Annette Bening. So even if you are brilliant, it is going to be hard. But, personally, getting older doesn't bother me."

The only thing that does bother Davis is that she could miss out on motherhood. Currently single, she says she is hoping to have a family. "If the right guy comes along I would love a baby. But I don't feel like I'm going to slit my wrists if I don't have my own. I'd love to adopt, and I'm seriously thinking about doing it." For the time being, though, she is focusing on her pets. "My puppies have taken over my life. I've just adopted a family of four dogs from a pet rescue centre and they are a handful, but they really make me happy."

'The Shaggy Dog' opens today