TORONTO — With sultry mannerisms and sharp comedic chops, Kim Cattrall fully embodied confident sexpot Samantha Jones on "Sex and the City."
But the Canadian-raised star won't be in the upcoming "Sex and the City" revival, and speculation abounds about what will happen with the role of the pleasure-seeking publicist, who was part of the group of four best friends living in New York.
Media scholar Robert Thompson says he thinks replacing Cattrall, who was nominated for five Emmys and won a Golden Globe for the role, with another actor "would be a laboratory experiment gone bad."
"Every now and again you get perfect casting, the perfect melding of an actor and a role, and I think Kim Cattrall and Samantha was that," Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said in an interview.
"Which is why I think recasting would be a grave error," added the professor of television and popular culture.
"It's one thing to recast the sister on 'Roseanne'; it's another thing to recast Samantha."
Parker confirmed on Instagram that Samantha "isn't part of this story" for the HBO Max original series, "And Just Like That...," which will include herself as the lead character, sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw. Also returning are original co-stars Cynthia Nixon as lawyer Miranda Hobbes, and Kristin Davis as art expert Charlotte York.
The news has sparked a flood of articles and social media posts about Samantha's fate. Online betting site Bovada has even released gambling odds for the character’s whereabouts in episode 1 — options include that she moved away, is dead, or "confined to a prison or institution."
Some Twitter users say Samantha was the heart of the show, which ran for six seasons, starting in 1998. There were also two films, which Cattrall was in before she declared she was done with the franchise.
Having a revival "without Samantha Jones is just a city, no sex. One boring city," wrote Twitter user @ivona2403.
"That SATC reboot is not worth mentioning without Kim Cattrall on board!" tweeted civil rights activist Johnetta Elzie.
Others have suggested plotlines to explain Samantha's absence, or other actors who could play the role.
"Just have Jane Krakowski play Samantha Jones and never address it on the show, obviously," tweeted TV writer Halle Kiefer.
"Maybe the revival will work if it's Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda investigating the Mysterious Disappearance of Samantha Jones," tweeted television critic Sonia Saraiya. "Cast-off Louboutins and empty martini glasses are their clues. At the end they discover she ghosted them because she hates them."
Such fervor is a reflection of how beloved the character was in the story of independent, modern women, said Thompson.
The oldest and arguably wisest of the four friends, who will be in their 50s in the upcoming series, Samantha was unique in her unapologetic love of sex and a life without kids.
"If you were simply to look on a script, the things she said — she seemed incredibly self-absorbed, she seemed incredibly selfish," Thompson said. "But the way she played that character, it was as though she was the one doing what 'Sex and the City' was all about as a calling, almost. She really was sincere about getting pleasure."
The one-two punch of "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos," which debuted in 1999, helped carve out HBO's identity as a premiere destination for cable series with scenarios and language not often seen on conventional TV.
Samantha's character was one of the best examples of that freedom HBO had, with her profanities and promiscuity — all delivered with a unique mix of sweetness and spice by Cattrall.
"I was not the demographic this was aimed at, but I found Samantha the least cloying of the four," said Thompson. "And 'Sex and the City,' I think not just by me, was something that that could certainly verge on and sometimes revel in its cloying quality."
If the producers don't recast another actor in the role, the writers will have to address Samantha in some form, said Thompson.
"There were four legs on that table of 'Sex and the City,' and when you take one away, it doesn't nicely become a tripod, it falls down," he said. "So they're definitely going to have to somehow deal with her absence."
With 10 episodes in the revival, the writers would have more leisure to deal with that plotline, Thompson added, suggesting it could be a story about how a close friend group deals with the absence of one member.
"The idea of having to recalibrate them without her I think potentially very good writing and interesting stories could be told about that."
Thompson said if he were writing it, he likely wouldn't kill the character off.
"I would be tempted to think that she finally woke up one day and said, 'I'm really sick of these three.''"
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press