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Baryshnikov Swoons for Sex and the City
Baryshnikov Swoons for "Sex"
Wed Jul 30,12:30 PM ET Add Entertainment - E! Online to My Yahoo!
By Josh Grossberg
Sex and the City fans, prepare to be swept off your feet.
Dance master Mikhail Baryshnikov will tango--and tangle--with Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw, as he makes his TV series debut as Carrie's latest and potentially final flame in the episodes leading up to the finale of HBO's style-making series, HBO announced Wednesday.
Parker, who's an executive producer on Sex, tells the New York Times that she felt Carrie needed to go out with a bang (dating-wise, that is), and apparently the 55-year-old Latvian-born performer had just the right magnetism to brush Mr. Big aside.
"We had to make Big look like a high school sweetheart," Parker tells the Times, regarding Carrie's longtime squeeze, who's been played by Chris Noth since the series' inception in 1998.
So the actress began casting about for potential Mr. Rights and, lo and behold, one morning a thought occurred to her while she was in the shower: Baryshnikov! (We're guessing she's not the first woman to think of Mr. Buns of the Steel while showering.)
She approached "Mischa" (Baryshnikov's affectionate Russian nickname) and lobbied hard for him to come aboard for a "long courtship" with Carrie, despite the fact he had never seen Sex and the City (news - Y! TV)--though as a New Yorker, he was obviously aware of the hit comedy.
After watching a few DVDs of the single-life adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda that Parker sent over, the two hashed out his role in a series of conversations and Baryshnikov finally signed on.
"He is so lovely and so much fun," Parker says in the Times. "He brings passion and star quality and character and myth and legend and skill and talent. I'm over the moon about this."
Baryshnikov is slated to play Alexander Petrovsky, a handsome fiftysomething artist of "extreme importance" from abroad who clashes with Carrie on everything from their age gap (she's 38, he's nearly two decades older) to foreign customs to couture. As Parker puts it, Petrovsky shows Carrie "there's a whole other life out there."
"We thought he might be European," Parker adds. "He has such presence that Carrie gets bigger, too. The scale changes her."
But whether his character's the man to permanently steal her heart in the last eight episodes as the series wraps up its projected 20-episode final season this January will remain an ongoing mystery for now.
"I have to keep the secrets," Parker said. "But this is a really important story line. This is not a short tenure."
Potentially throwing a monkeywrench in the romance will be the presence of X-Files hunk David Duchovny (news), who recently signed on for a stint as a potential Carrie suitor.
Coincidentally, Carrie's attraction to a big-named European star mirrors that of writer Candace Bushnell, whose column and books inspired the HBO series. Bushnell herself married a ballet dancer last year.
For Baryshnikov, who has a daughter with actress Jessica Lange (news), he says the thing that interested him most about the series is its often hilarious sex appeal and depiction of life on the singles circuit.
"I seem to have a tendency to do things that people think I shouldn't do," Baryshnikov tells the Times. "I think it's about time to do something my children can't watch.
Noting that it had been years since he has acted, Baryshnikov says he embraced the part because "it sounded like fun."
Born in Latvia to Russian parents, the former ballet star hasn't been in front of the camera in over a decade.
He scored an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in his film debut as a dancer opposite Shirley MacLaine (news) in 1977's musical drama The Turning Point. His next notable role came as a defecting Soviet dancer in the 1985 Cold War drama White Nights. His last stint on the big screen was in 1991's little-seen Company Business.
Baryshnikov's Petrovsky will first be introduced as a "teaser" around episode 11 or 12. The episode, in which the two cross paths in an art gallery, is shooting now before the cast takes a six-week hiatus in August.
His character will then lift Carrie off her feet in the final eight episodes when filming resumes in October. Those episodes will air in January and conclude the series' run.