Cynthia Nixon: ‘I feel wiser and calmer than I’ve ever been’

The actor on her greatest fear, the best kiss of her life and the day a photographer told her not to get her teeth fixed

Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon: ‘Which living person do I most admire? Michelle Obama.’ Photograph: FilmMagic
Cynthia Nixon: ‘Which living person do I most admire? Michelle Obama.’ Photograph: FilmMagic

Last modified on Sun 20 Sep 2020 09.55 EDT

Born in New York, Cynthia Nixon, 50, began to act aged 11. From 1998 to 2004, she played Miranda in the HBO series Sex And The City, a role for which she won an Emmy. In 2006, she starred on Broadway in Rabbit Hole, winning a Tony award. She plays Emily Dickinson in Terence Davies’s new film, A Quiet Passion, in cinemas now. She has two children by her former partner and a son with her wife.

When were you happiest?
Now. I feel wiser and calmer than I’ve ever been.

What is your greatest fear?
Death. I don’t mean premature death. The idea of never being conscious again seems terrifying to me.

What is your earliest memory?
The black-and-white tiles on the floor in my parents’ apartment in New York. I was probably three.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Michelle Obama (not that Barack wouldn’t be right up there). She seems genuinely to enjoy her life and do the best with all the tasks that she sets her mind to.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Being at an audition with Daniel Day-Lewis and not recognising him. It was for The Last Of The Mohicans, and everyone else introduced themselves to me, then he shook my hand. I said, “And you are…?”

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Saoirse Ronan: she’s an amazing actress, and looks a little like me.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Everybody, now and before, who was fleeing for their lives and wasn’t allowed into our country.

What does love feel like?

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
I don’t know if it was the worst, but 10 years ago a photographer kept saying, “Oh, that’s gorgeous, amazing, beautiful.” I smiled and he said, “Oh, I love your teeth.” Then he said, “Don’t get them fixed.”

What was the best kiss of your life?
There have been a lot, but there was one time my wife kissed me in the car underneath an overpass in 2005 that I always think of.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Oh yes – I’m in showbusiness.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Harriet Tubman, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin… the list goes on.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
When I was about 15, I auditioned to play Alice In Wonderland on Broadway, and they cast someone else. I never got over it.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
When I was 13, I was on a bicycle and got hit by a taxi in New York.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children, and my sanity. For a child actor, I think it’s noteworthy.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
I Happen To Like New York: I tell people all the time, so they will be sure not to forget.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a citizen, a person involved in my community.

Where would you most like to be right now?
In bed with my wife.

Tell us a joke
What did the zero say to the eight? “Nice belt.”

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