Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall,
and Kristin Davis in Sex and the City 2
(© Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Productions)
Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall,
and Kristin Davis in Sex and the City 2
(© Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Productions)
In 1998, no one could have predicted the monumental success of an intimate little television show on HBO called Sex and the City, based on the concept of four contemporary women looking for love in the big city. Now over a decade later, the show not only lives on via cable and DVDs, but it has spawned two films; including the long-awaited Sex and the City 2, which opens nationwide on May 27.

Set two years after the first film, SATC2 finds longtime gal pals Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) simultaneously content and overwhelmed by marriage, motherhood, and other changes of life. So when Samantha offer the girls a chance to briefly leave their beloved New York City behind -- in order to travel to exotic and luxurious Dubai on an all-expense-paid jaunt -- the ladies pack their bags for adventure.

The two-month location shoot in Morocco, which doubled for Dubai, was not as glamorous as it appears on film: for some scenes, the cast literally found themselves -- without a bathroom on set! -- in the middle of the Sahara desert. But Parker wouldn't have had it any other way. "We were in a wonderfully thrilling, exotic, stimulating, inspirational, cinematic environment, and we had this chance to live together and get to know each other in a way that we'd never get in New York," she notes. "It changed everything and I came away loving them in a new way."

Nonetheless, Parker stresses that New York is still at the center of the action, even for the long sections of the film when the Big Apple is not on a screen. "For Carrie, New York is always a heartbeat away," explains Parker. "Everything that Carrie is thinking about is back in New York. Her past, her future, her present, her whole point of reference continues to be New York."

Nixon sees the city's influence just as far-reaching. "We carry New York with us. It's the lens through which we see everything," she says. "That's the amazing thing about going to another country. First you learn something about a world you never knew, but equally important is it gives you a little perspective to say 'there are things about my home that I didn't appreciate, but now when I come back home, I can really appreciate it.'"

Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City 2
(© Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Productions)
Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City 2
(© Craig Blankenhorn/New Line Productions)
It wouldn't be Sex and the City without a lot of costumes changes; and the women wear approximately 120 different outfits in the film. (The men, including series favorites Chris Noth, John Corbett, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Jason Lewis, Mario Cantone, and Willie Garson, have far smaller wardrobes -- and far smaller roles).

When shooting a scene at luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Davis admits the cast made the most of their time there. "We did all go up to the shoe department together and cause quite a stir. And there were little breaks and we ran around in a group to the dress and sunglasses departments." Nixon admits that the shopping respites didn't end there. "We were able to do that in Morocco too, which was great because you're in the middle of the most fantastic market in the world!"

The glitz, glamour, and girl-talk are the reasons many people love Sex and the City, but the reason it has endured is the honest way it treats its subject matter, says Cattrall. "Our director, writer, and creator Michael Patrick King has his finger specifically on what people are about to talk about," she says. "We have encouraged a lot of women to change the way they feel about being single, about having cancer, being lonely, and I think that's a powerful thing in this era of post-feminism. I think we have helped to find what it is to be successful, smart, and feminine."

Moreover, as Parker points out, another vital message comes out in the TV series and in this film. "In a culture where women are often unkind to each other, I really, really love how these women love each other," she says. "I like that we still illustrate that there are places where women would rather be allies than adversaries."