By Kathleen Walsh published
Warning: Spoilers for episode 3 of And Just Like That ahead.
In the original Sex and the City, neither Carrie nor audiences had very much sympathy for Natasha, played by Bridget Moynahan. But not unlike Meredith Blake from The Parent Trap, Amy March from Little Women, or even Cruella De Vil, audiences have begun to reconsider how Natasha was characterized and perceived when she first appeared on the show. What made her character such a villain, anyway? Was Natasha really terrible? Or did we just think she and her cohort were terrible because they worked hard to embody perfect femininity—which is still perceived as being untrustworthy—and because they were set up as oppositional to a lovably flawed heroine? Probably the latter.
When she first appeared in season 2 of the original hit HBO series, Natasha was the offensively beige, elegant 25-year-old model Mr. Big married after spending years toying with Carrie and refusing to commit. Who didn’t feel Carrie’s catharsis when she declared, “The woman’s an idiot!”—because of a grammatical error Natasha made on a thank you note? It seemed like the only times Natasha was allowed to slip from Stepford-esque idyll to actual human were in moments of humiliation, like tripping down the stairs and chipping a tooth in front of the woman her husband cheated on her with (that would be Carrie).
Natasha was set up as a foil to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie, but if you look just, like, half an inch deeper, you may notice they’re more alike than not. They are both beautiful, thin, well-dressed, well-heeled, occasionally clumsy white women in love with the same man who was treating them both badly. Which is a point And Just Like That appears to be trying to make with Natasha’s return in the third episode of the rebooted series. Discovering that Mr. Big has bequeathed his ex-wife Natasha $1 million in his will (without telling Carrie, the lawyer, or even Natasha ahead of time), Carrie slips immediately back into old patterns: obsessing over what Big was and was not telling her about her former romantic rival.
So, when does Natasha get to speak for herself? Well, now, actually.
Moynahan counts herself as a fan of Sex and the City as well as being a part of its legacy, and she takes no issue with fans then or now who vilified her character on behalf of their fave, Carrie. Here, the actress tells Marie Claire how she doesn’t pay attention to comments on the internet and is unfazed by bad-faith critique. Mostly, Moynahan is just happy to be here, and happy to finally bring Carrie and Natasha’s relationship full circle.
Marie Claire: How did you get involved with the reboot and how did it feel reprising your role?
Bridget Moynahan: There's a scene in this episode where Natasha is up in her office and she's on the phone and she just looks down and she sees Carrie and her girlfriends down there, looking up at her. As Bridget, watching these girls do their thing, it was so much fun. Because it was Sex and the City back again, from the heels to the outfits to the girls—who are not girls anymore. They're grown mature women with adult responsibilities...[but] in some ways they just have that joyful spirit still. And it was just so much fun for me as an actor and as a fan to be watching that.
[Showrunner] Michael Patrick King had called me— I don't know when he called me, sometime early spring, maybe—and he said, 'Hey, would you consi—' I don't even think he got the word ‘consider’ out of his mouth before I said, ‘Yes.’ They had come out with a couple movies and I hadn't gotten the call and I was like, 'I wonder if they'll bring Natasha back?!' So I was really so thrilled that they did bring her back for this. And it didn't really matter what [MPK] asked me to do. I mean, if he asked me to be in a background scene, I would've done that. But it was a nice little storyline to play with and in some ways more emotional and real than the two characters have ever really been with each other.
MC: I think a lot of viewers felt like Natasha got the short end of the stick in terms of characterization. Did you ever feel that while filming the original? Had you ever seen any of these comments and did you agree?
BM: Fans had said something to me in person on the street in New York. They would say something, and I'd be like, 'Yeah, but she cheated with my husband!' They didn't really think about it that way. They were just protecting their Carrie...[the fans] are loyal to these characters and it's just wonderful. I think it's a testament to the writing, and the creation of these characters and these actors who brought them to life.
MC: What was your initial reaction to reaction to Big dying?
BM: I just thought, 'Yeah. OK. Great.' This was a natural way for [the writers] to get into things and a reality of women of a certain age, men of a certain age. So it felt like a real possibility and a really beautiful way to jump back into these lives that everybody had fallen in love with in their ‘30s and take a real, but still fun, look at what their lives are like in their ‘50s. …People are literally grieving a character and a relationship and a love that they've all really felt like they've gone on this journey together.
MC: In this episode we get a little more of Natasha's perspective. How did you feel about the bonding moment she and Carrie had?
BM: I think that one of the sweet moments that the writers had put in there—and I would imagine it's a hard thing to admit for [Natasha]—is, 'He always loved you.' And to be able to give that gift to Carrie of like, 'There's no reason why he should have ever married me.' For Carrie to hear that and for her to accept in that moment when she's so confused and grieving. It's nice in a way for Natasha and Carrie to leave on the same page. Like, ‘Let's not do this anymore.’
MC: We also get a glimpse of Natasha's life. Do you have any more ideas of where she is now? Is she married? Is she a single mom?
BM: I definitely think she's married and she has two kids and a very nice life and moved on. I'm sure it was an unusual thing to get the call about Big leaving something to her in the will—which she's explained she's not going to take.
MC: Did you feel any certain way about that bathroom scene, which is such a fun, throwback slap-sticky Sex and the City moment?
BM: I often explain that my first experience with Sex and the City was like having to jump into an ongoing Double Dutch jump rope game. It was a well-oiled, big show, and I was just a new actor getting a chance to be on the show, and just had to jump in and hopefully not mess up. I felt the pressure and I felt nervous. And cut to how many years later, coming on the show, I definitely felt more relaxed and more grounded, but still super excited to be there.
When I read the script, and I saw that scene in the coffee shop and in the restroom, I was like, 'Okay, I guess I'm doing this!'…I've been doing Blue Bloods for 12 years. They're not shooting a scene of me in the toilet! So it was definitely out of my comfort zone from what I've been doing, but so exciting to be able to do something more playful and comedic. It's such a joy to be able to watch and work with Sarah Jessica Parker, who is such a pro and so talented, and just watching her make her adjustments and her natural talent come through, it's so wonderful.
MC: Do you hope that through this episode people might take away a slightly more nuanced view of Natasha?
BM: I think people are just going to have fun watching the episodes…and it's all to have fun and enjoy it. I think it's really refreshing for [the show creators] to take on this in the way they have—not trying to go back and create something that they've already done—but we're going to deal with everything that's going on now and we're gonna embrace it all…Whether it's single motherhood or questioning marriage or death or age or whatever it is. They take it on and they have fun with it.
MC: I feel like the Natasha character fits pretty neatly into current cultural conversations of the women we vilify and the women we side with; how we pit women against each other. I wondered if you had any thoughts about that or if you felt like the narratives have evolved?
BM: I think we've evolved in some ways and we haven't in others. There are so many conversations [now] about supporting each other and women breaking glass ceilings—and we have a vice president now who’s a woman—and there are a lot of ways that things have changed and grown. And then you have all the negative things that you find on Instagram or [on] different social media platforms where people are picking apart women's [and] girls' looks and making them feel insecure or not beautiful for who they are. So we haven't grown in those areas. Natasha being in the show, you see that she's moved on. You see that [Carrie and Natasha] come together and have a nice moment together at the end; that kind of releases some of that from the past.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Kathleen Walsh is a freelance writer and editor whose work focuses on culture, dating, and feminism and especially where all three intersect. Her writing can be found in the New York Times, InStyle, Teen Vogue, and more.
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