Sarita Choudhury had heard they were rebooting “Sex and the City” but immediately took herself out of consideration in her mind, chiefly for one reason: shoes.
“I’m not a high-heel girl,” Choudhury says, over the New York staple of light construction work noises in the background on a recent Zoom call. “I heard about it from other friends, other actors who were just talking about it. And I was just like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ But I would never in a second think about me, myself. And so when I got the call, it was a straight-up audition, but for producers. And I was like, ‘What?’” she continues. “And I see the script and I saw the character and I’d never played a character like her. So again, I was like, ‘They may have the wrong girl.’”
Choudhury is one of the handful of new faces to the “Sex and the City” world in the HBO Max reboot “And Just Like That,” which wraps season one on Thursday. She stars as Seema, Carrie’s real estate agent turned friend, who, yes, loves heels, as well as fabulous coats, cigarettes and the finer things in life. Auditioning as her felt like “complete abandon,” Choudhury says, and despite feeling out of place initially, Choudhury realized she really liked Seema — and desperately wanted the role.
The British actress, now based in New York, broke out in Mira Nair’s 1991 film “Mississippi Masala” with Denzel Washington and since then has been in Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me,” the “Hunger Games” films and “Homeland.”
“I tend to in film or past TV have played in much darker circumstances and independents that are lower budgets and that involve situations that are just less… I’ve always been able to hide in my characters a bit and there’s something about Seema I couldn’t hide,” she says. “And I had to be like, ‘This is my line. This is what I’m going to say and no apologies.’ I’d never done that. It was a different muscle. For me, doing this whole show, it was like doing theater for me. It was such a pleasure. But the whole time I was like, ‘Am I pulling this off?’ I was never sure.”
But as soon as she stepped into Seema, who is uber-confident and poised, that self-doubt evaporated.
“What was interesting is even if I felt unsure, the minute I spoke her lines and wore the high heels, and smoked that cigarette, the unsureness was never there. It was just before and after,” Choudhury says. “Now it’s out and I can see how it builds and everything, but when you’re doing it, you’re doing it without knowing.”
She likens starting the project as a first-day-of-school experience, except the original “SATC” crew were less like mean cheerleaders and more like regular cool girls who want to show you around.
“It was Sarah Jessica who took me in. And I think she sensed that maybe I was feeling shy about joining, so she would always just come up to me and she’d ask me questions about my family, she often reads a book on set and so I would ask her what she’s reading and she’d immediately be like, ‘What do you like reading?’” Choudhury says. “It was a way, I think, for her to get me just talking and to open up.”
While buzz of a second season hangs around the season one finale, Choudhury is already taking lessons from Seema into her career and beginning to think about what other outside-of-the-comfort zone roles she might take on.
“In theater I’m always used to playing someone outside my comfort zone, but I’d never, in a way, been offered that in film or TV. I’ve played power roles, but usually in the guise of a lawyer or someone behind a desk. But not that glamorous, very iconic-feeling figure,” she says. “I just didn’t put myself, especially in TV and film, in that kind of role. And what’s been great about it is now I’m like, ‘Oh, it’d be so great to do like a film noir or…’ It’s opened my brain up to other things.”
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