Godmother profile: Kim Cattrall

Were you to own a cruise ship - decorated with multi-coloured strands across the hull that required an equally unashamed Godmother to launch her - you couldn’t do better than put out your ceremonial request to Kim Cattrall…

When Norwegian Cruise Line selected a date to launch their new ship – Norwegian Dawn – in December 2002, it was clear the ceremony, set to be hosted in New York, would likely take place in bitterly cold temperatures.

It seemed a slightly odd scenario given that Norwegian Dawn would offer tours to some of the world's warmest climates, including the Caribbean.

This dilemma, combined with the fact that NCL’s newest vessel would be the first cruise ship to sport decadent hull decoration, meant that whoever would step in as Norwegian Dawn’s Godmother would have to be a hardy yet shameless soul.

Even better still if they could hot things up for the launch party attendees. Was it asking the impossible?

Thankfully not, as NCL put their hopeful request for a godmother out to British-Canadian actress Kim Cattrall, long known for both her sizzling beauty and carefree attitude to life.

Dressed in a smart naval-blue dress, and performing cheeky lines from her launch speech that harked back to Kim’s portrayal of Samantha in HBO’s Sex and the City, the audience quickly warmed to Norwegian Dawn and the elaborate launch; despite the freezing conditions gripping Manhattan.

Cattrall enjoyed a tour of the ship, quipping that Norwegian Dawn was “by far the biggest ship in New York … and don’t let anyone ever tell you that size doesn’t matter!”Oh, err!

Performances from the cast of Broadway smash Rent and the Harlem Boys’ Choir then wowed the crowd as Kim prepared to christen Norwegian Dawn.

Standing on stage next to Kim, Colin Veitch, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said:
Kim embodies the spirit of New York and the distinctive style of freestyle cruising. Kim's allure is quite tantalising; she is the new symbol of New York City and the perfect godmother for our newest, most innovative vessel, Norwegian Dawn."

Kim was presented with a necklace and earrings from coveted jeweller Tiffany’s (where breakfast is sometimes offered). In turn, Cattrall reciprocated with her own gift of an eye-catching painting of the ship, proclaiming: “I name this ship Norwegian Dawn. May God bless her and all who sail her.”

Sparkling confetti rained down and Norwegian Dawn glamorously set off on her maiden voyage.

Kim Cattrall: An iconic sex symbol (whose heart yearns for theatre performance)

Combining brutal Liverpudlian honesty with stunning beauty and an elegant poise might sound like an impossible feat, but British-Canadian actress Kim Cattrall has consistently delivered this potent mixture throughout a glittering career spanning across television, film and theatre.

Best known for her New York sass and jaw-dropping lines as the confident, flirtatious and unashamedly sexual Samantha Jones in HBO’s Sex and the City, Cattrall has thrilled, seduced and amused audiences the world over.

Born in Liverpool in August 1956, Kim was whisked off to Courtenay, British Columbia at only three months old when her family decided to emigrate to Canada. Just over a decade later, Kim and the family would return to their Liverpool roots to support her ailing grandmother.

Despite the encompassing difficulty of the circumstances, it was at this time that dreams of becoming an actress began to take hold within Cattrall.

Cattrall as seen during her silver screen debut in Rosebud (1975). Credit: IMDB

Kim has pinpointed a stage performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It as the foundational trigger for her interest in the theatrical. At home, the flames were enthusiastically fanned by her Liverpudlian father and his stubborn belief that Kim could do "anything she wanted" when it came to profession.

This led to Kim enrolling at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where she successfully graduated as a budding actress. Seeking new horizons within which to try her hand, Kim elected to return to Canada before moving onto New York, fine-tuning her skills further still at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

This yielded what looked to be a promising five-year contract with talented but tough film director Otto Preminger. More on that in a moment.

In 1975, Kim made her film debut in Preminger's action thriller Rosebud. She starred as Joyce Donnovan, one of five teenage hostages held by the Palestine Liberation Army aboard a yacht known as Rosebud.

The film starred significant acting pedigree courtesy of Peter O’Toole, Cliff Gorman and Richard Attenborough – as well as a role enacted by former NYC mayor John Lindsay.

Cattrall stole hearts as the love interest in cultural phenomenon Police Academy. Credit: Reddit

From TV to super-stardom

While Rosebud provided the springboard that Kim needed into the movies, the experience wasn’t to come without its challenges via harsh criticism delivered from Preminger.

Cattrall can still recall how Otto had said that "she’d reminded him of Marilyn Monroe, but for a lack of talent rather than good looks."

The blunt words stung badly. While even bad feedback can eventually prove useful, it was early days for Kim and could be regarded as perhaps a tad unfair (not that we are biased or anything).

However, it wasn’t long before Universal Studios bought out Kim’s contract with Preminger, thrusting Cattrall into the final throes of the old studio system; simultaneously opening the opportunity for her to redeem some self-respect.

Television produced the medium on which Cattrall would step out again, including guest roles in Quincy M.E., Starsky & Hutch and Columbo.

The movies beckoned again in 1979 where Cattrall donned a white lab coat as Dr. Gabrielle White in The Incredible Hulk before starring alongside Jack Lemmon in Tribute (1980) and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Hold-Up (1985).

Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall in John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. Credit: Reddit/SexandtheCity

By 1986, Cattrall’s reputation transformed from pretty young girl to notable sex symbol when she played Gracie, the green-eyed flame of Kurt Russell in John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Her red silken dress, colourful make-up and elaborate headwear set male hearts alight.

Off screen, Cattrall juggled the reality of multiple jobs to keep the rent paid and the momentum in her career going. Kim’s first and true love was theatre but this could often seem like a decadent indulgence when there were bills to pay, while the less appealing alternatives in acting offered much greater earning potential.

By day, Kim would dazzle on the set of Little China before then going to work the audience in Anton Chekhov's play Three Sisters by night. The latter was only made possible by the financial stability provided by the former.

In 1987, Cattrall starred as Emmy in the cult comedy Mannequin. Despite the film’s romantic (yet somewhat patchy, we admit) plot-line where Emmy is a mannequin that comes to life upon meeting a stock boy named Jonathan, the movie proved a huge success with 80s audiences.

Kim’s character is full of joy and mischief, while the adventures that play out for the couple within the Prince and Company department store have an innocent and endearing charm. It’s a film that’s hard not to fall for, particularly while so many of our pioneering department stores close down in more modern times.

Cattrall made waves as the star of Mannequin. Credit: Reddit/OldSchoolCool

Although juggling the competing demands in film and the theatre was ultimately testing, Cattrall persevered. While working in film could certainly be great fun, unfortunately it hadn’t taken Cattrall long to realise that she’d become sexualised and was consequently only being offered a certain kind of role.

Her purpose had generally skewed towards being the eye-candy of a given movie and, while that was complimentary, there was a distinct lack of intellectual challenge in it for Kim.

She was also keenly aware of the temporary appeal of youthful good looks in the business. So many of the Hollywood icons from the 1950s and early '60s, lauded for their fame and stunning appearances at their peak, had already moved onto other things.

It wasn’t that these actors and actresses were no longer talented – in fact quite the opposite was usually true – but a thing called age had got in the way, casting many aside through no fault of their own.

Kim’s yearning for more stimulating roles, as well as the awareness of how the window of opportunity could close at any time, saw Kim’s film career begin to divert down some unexpected alleys.

One such role was that of Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. No one who’d seen Cattrall in Porky’s or Police Academy had seen that coming.

Cattrall avoided typecasting with a surprise role in Star Trek. Credit: VillainsWiki/Paramount

The attempt to change tact was real but, for a little while longer, Cattrall was still sought out for her ability to ooze sex appeal on screen. She was so determined to find a different type cast that, in the late 1990s, she declined a notable television character no fewer than three times.

However, the request was persistent and Kim eventually agreed, completely unaware that the character – the legendary Samantha Jones in American TV series Sex and the City – would transform her life.

A defining role for generations

Bold, sexy and shameless, Kim’s character of Samantha would shock and amuse SATC viewers as she and her healthy sexual appetite romped their way around New York.

Across six seasons and two films, Samantha challenged sexual boundaries and ageism with countless hilarious one-liners that left audiences either open-jawed or hysterical at the latest ridiculous situation she’d found herself in.

Samantha was endlessly confident while always dressed impeccably and unafraid to tell it how it is. Women adored Cattrall’s character, and Kim eventually admitted that Samantha had "given her a life after 40 in this business."

Cattrall’s portrayal of Samantha nominated her for five Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and, alongside her co-stars, two ensemble Screen Actors Guild Awards.

With epic lines like “Yeah I am harsh. I’m also demanding, stubborn, self-sufficient and always right. In bed, at the office and everywhere else,” Samantha kept us laughing – while she remains the character for which Cattrall is best known.

Admit it. You recognise these four just from a cartoon profile. Credit: Shutterstock/RRM

Kim’s reputation as a confident and sexy woman in many of the characters she has played later led to recognition of her appeal in numerous places.

In 2005, the TV Guide ranked Cattrall as the eighth sexiest star of all-time, followed by Cosmopolitan UK electing Kim as winner of the Ultimate Icon Award in 2008.

2009 saw Cattrall’s attentions spread between the place of her birth and where she’d then spent her early years in Canada. She received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto while, back in the UK, Cattrall’s family history was being explored in the BBC One documentary Who Do You Think You Are?

A string of UK theatre performances followed including Noel Coward’s Private Lives in London’s West End, as well as Anthony and Cleopatra in Liverpool’s Playhouse. The John Moores University named Kim an Honorary Fellow in recognition of her contribution to the dramatic arts.

In 2014, the Canadian adaptation of television series Sensitive Skin saw Cattrall take on the melancholic role of Davina Jackson, a woman who is having difficulty adjusting to getting older. The original British edition had featured Joanna Lumley.

Kim found this a particularly intriguing role to play. She wanted to grab fellow women with the thought ‘Hey, that’s what I’m going through’ and it worked.

BBC Four then invited Cattrall to join the hit Swedish TV series Modus with the role of playing the first female president of the United States.

While the plot is not historically accurate, much of what Cattrall’s character is up against proved entirely true and relatable, thanks largely to Kim’s own acting career – where being a woman could be as much of a hindrance as it was a boost.

Cattrall has avoided typecasting by opting for more intelligent roles. Credit: Shutterstock

A few years later, Kim added to her dual British-Canadian nationality in 2021 by also becoming an American citizen. This enabled Kim to vote in that year’s US election, which seemed appropriate given the political nature of her role in Modus.

In the same year, she starred in and co-produced the American TV drama Filthy Rich, which rewarded her with an Icon Award at the Atlanta TV Festival.

In 2021, Cattrall teamed up with Robert de Niro in the comedy film About My Father while, back in Liverpool, Kim was featured in a permanent exhibition named Wondrous Place at the National Museum Liverpool that aims to celebrate the city’s cultural heritage.

More recently, Kim has starred in the TV series Queer as Folk and Glamourous while also briefly reprising her role as Samantha in a cameo for the finale to Season 2 of And Just Like That (Sex and the City).

Kim Cattrall and Norwegian Dawn

Kim Cattrall and Norwegian Dawn make a perfect pairing, as both can be regarded as confident and colourful rule-breakers. Nothing that Cattrall’s character Samantha did was subtle, boring or quiet – while she was as liberated as they come, and unwilling to be hemmed in by anyone’s expectations.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Dawn carries eye-catching hull illustrations with pride while offering passengers the ability to cruise without restrictive schedules or the need to be concerned with dress etiquette.

Instead, the priority while aboard is to simply enjoy the travel experience and lap up the fun that awaits much like Kim’s own standpoint when it comes to life and career.

Another factor that unites Cattrall and Norwegian Dawn is their connection to the LGBTQ community. In 2011, Kim was honoured by GLAAD with a prestigious Golden Gate Award thanks to increasing the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community, after Samantha’s attempt to have a lesbian relationship in Sex and the City.

LGBTQ issues also feature within the Queer as Folk and Glamourous TV series. On board Norwegian Cruise Line ships, you find a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere that also features a daily LGBTQ meet-up.

Norwegian Dawn in all her glory. Credit: Shutterstock

About Norwegian Cruise Line and Norwegian Dawn

Founded in the giddy sixties, Norwegian Cruise Line started off small before achieving an impressive array of firsts in the cruising market.

Now Norwegian Cruise Line can boast of having pioneered the first exclusive private island, having launched the first combined air-sea programme, of having built new ports in the Caribbean as well as introducing of a whole new way of cruising itself.

Now residing as the third largest cruise line globally, with headquarters in Miami – often regarded as the cruise capital of the world – Norwegian Cruise Line have surprised everyone with novel and exciting concepts alongside their impressive business growth.

Who would’ve thought it all started with a single car ferry called Sunward criss-crossing between Britain’s Southampton and Gibraltar back in 1966?

Moved across to Star Cruises by one of the line’s original founders in 2000, those characteristics have both defined and brought success to the line over five consecutive decades.

Norwegian Dawn oozes style and class. Samantha would approve. Credit: NCL

Built in the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, Norwegian Dawn was originally commissioned by Star Cruises and began her service in 2002. Weighing in at 92,250 tonnes, Norwegian Dawn is considered one of the smaller of Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet with a total capacity of up to 2,200 passengers.

Norwegian Dawn forms part of the Dawn class, alongside sister ship Norwegian Star. Aboard, passengers can enjoy the Freestyle Cruising concept, which aims to leave regimental schedules behind.

Freestyle cruising facilitates maximum flexibility when it comes to dining and activities, allowing passengers to simply relax and have fun instead of worrying about dress code or timings.

With many complimentary dining venues covered by Norwegian Dawn’s cruise packages, passengers often don’t even have to worry about paying for many of their meals.

Out at sea, Norwegian Cruise Line ships are easily recognised thanks to their distinctive and colourful hull paintings. Norwegian Dawn was the first to sport such an elaborate design, proudly carrying multi-coloured ribbons that weave their way down from the bow.

Norwegian Dawn provides ample entertainment and activities for all ages. Credit: NCL

On the starboard side, two leaping dolphins can be seen while on port side is a faithfully recreated Statue of Liberty.

Within this glamorous cruise ship, on board sporting facilities include swimming pools, basketball courts and a jogging track while those seeking entertainment can choose from movie showings, dance and theatre performances, musicals as well as access to a large casino and numerous glitzy lounges, pubs and bistros.

Norwegian Dawn offers a wide offering of cruise itineraries including seven-night voyages to Bermuda as well as tours of Canada, the Bermudas and the Caribbean.

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About Gillian Carmoodie

Gillian has been a part of the heritage world for longer than she would care to admit. From piloting pre-war racers across Montlhéry and traversing the Cumbrian mountains with an Edwardian automobile, to flying a WWI Tiger Moth and obsessing over all things shipping, Gillian lives for history.

When not buried in a book or lost to the archives, you'll usually find her under the bonnet of her classic Rover or exploring the old shipyards of the North East. When partaking in work for RNLI, Land Rover or RRM, Gillian mostly runs on high-octane Earl Grey.