Sarita Choudhury Steps Into Her Most Glamorous Role Yet

Excitement has been building for HBO Max’s Sex and the City revival, And Just Like That…, for months, and we finally got our first look at the follow-up series with its premiere on December 9. The gang’s all here—well, mostly, as Kim Cattrall’s Samantha is notably missing. Only this time, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) have transitioned into their 50s and are facing a whole new set of life and relationship challenges. There’s a familiarity to the show that fans of the original will no doubt appreciate, like Carrie’s voice-over narration (this time via a podcast instead of her newspaper column) and enough jaw-dropping fashion moments to fill a museum, but there’s also an element of freshness via some impeccably dressed newcomers. 

At the time of my interview with Sarita Choudhury, not much was known about her character Seema Patel or the series for that matter. All I had to go on was the smattering of paparazzi shots shared on social media and the recently released teaser. HBO Max has been keeping details tightly under wraps, so Choudhury herself must be discreet in what she reveals. “I can tell you she’s very different from me,” the actress says, pausing to think carefully about how to elaborate further. “She’s a very savvy businesswoman but has a very—I hope—quick sense of humor, if I pulled that off.” Seema is a powerhouse. There is a cool confidence about her, both in the way she carries herself and in how she dresses.

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Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max

A self-proclaimed jeans-and-T-shirt gal, Choudhury admits she was shocked when she first received the call for the show. “Really? Do they know who I am?” she laughs, replaying the conversation. She had recently returned to New York after spending the last year abroad in lockdown and was wrapping another project when the script came her way. The glamorous world of Sex and the City was far from her real life, which made her question whether she could even pull it off. But a conversation with Michael Patrick King, the showrunner, was all she needed. “He is so bright and charismatic that the only thoughts I was having were, ‘Oh my God, this guy has been involved with this for so long. He has created so many of these characters along with Darren Star, who initiated it,’ and I saw the brilliance behind it, and I was very excited,” she says. 

Like many, Choudhury is a fan of the original series, having devoured it all in one summer years ago. When I ask which character she resonates with most, she struggles to land on one person. She says she’s been a little bit of each of them at one point or another. She has definitely been a Carrie when going through a tough breakup but also views herself as an intellectual, so there is some Miranda there, too. And when she aspires to be really free, well, she is definitely a Samantha. 

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Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max

The fact that audiences could really relate to these characters and the very real scenarios they found themselves in is the brilliance of Sex and the City, and it’s something Choudhury was relieved to see carried through in And Just Like That…

“When you turn 50, you feel like whatever you are cast in it’s not written for you. You are trying to put yourself in it. Whereas, this was written for our age. I can’t tell you how relieving that is. We didn’t have to hide the fact we turned 50. There was such joy in that. And also to be in scenes with women your age, it was so much fun. I loved it,” Choudhury says. “And you’ll see we talk about it all the time, the age and our feelings and our insecurities, but also feeling oddly strong at this age and how we are perceived versus how we feel. It’s very honest, and I’m glad they went that route because I guess it’s the only route to really go, but they were really brave in doing that. There is a lot of brave stuff in this season.”

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Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max

Stepping into the shoes of Seema Patel, a self-made Manhattan real estate broker, felt like a brave moment for Choudhury. While you could argue she’s done it all across her 30-year acting career—everything from drama to comedy to action and jumping from artsy independent films to major film and TV franchises—she has never done a project of this style and pace before, let alone played a character quite like Seema. “I’ve always had a fear of playing power and elegance because you can’t mess up,” she says. In order to perfect Seema’s nonchalant attitude, Choudhury studied actresses from films in the ’40s and ’50s and the way in which they would wear clothes with a certain je ne sais quoi and sit casually with a cigarette in hand. She also started wearing heels around her house. Glam and wardrobe played a big part, too.  

Working on a project where the wardrobe is a character in itself made fittings with the costume team more enjoyable for Choudhury. “In front of you, you’ve got Valentino and Chanel and vintage Yves Saint Laurent, and it all makes you look good,” she says. Much like her on-screen counterparts, Seema doesn’t hold back when it comes to her sartorial choices. Highlights include a velvet suit with an animal-print pattern, a sharply angled bright-blue dress, and a pair of dark-pink trousers that fit perfectly. From head to toe, Seema is luxury. “My taste started to really open up with this character,” Choudhury laughed.  

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Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max

Having just wrapped episode 10, Choudhury can already feel that she is going to miss the character. What was a daunting task on day one is now enjoyable, and Choudhury is fully leaning into the differences between herself and Seema. 

In anticipation of the show’s premiere, I ask what she is most looking forward to having audiences see with this revival.Even though it’s women now in their 50s, I hope it being 2021 and what we’re doing with the show will make everyone feel like they have a piece in some way. And I just hope they love us because it’s a show about friendship, and it helps you not feel lonely.”

And just like that… We have our new TV obsession. 

And Just Like That… is now streaming on HBO Max.