Today, Cynthia Nixon is dressed for the role she plays off screen — Upper West Side mom: khakis, low-heeled boots, wool hat pulled down over mussed blond hair (her true color). Settling into a booth at her local Manhattan sushi joint, the 39-year-old actress appears content with her life since Sex and the City ended its breathless run last year. For her latest project, she's traded in Sex's Jimmy Choos for sensible pumps, adding a prosthetic overbite and a high, fluttery voice to play Eleanor Roosevelt in HBO's Warm Springs (Saturday, 8 pm/ET). Her personal life has been no less exciting: After splitting with the father of her kids (Samantha, 8, and Charlie, 3), she has become involved with education activist Christine Marinoni. It's not a subject she cares to discuss because, as she points out, if she does, "then that's all anybody will want to ask me about."
TV Guide: Why did you want to play Eleanor Roosevelt?
Cynthia Nixon: Eleanor was the biggest collection of contradictions ever: She was an incredibly public person, but she had to work her heart out because she had a painful lack of confidence. She wasn't considered pretty, and she had the most horrendous childhood. She had a tremendous sense of duty, but she reached the breaking point with Franklin's affair with Lucy Mercer. She finally said, "It's time for me to start doing some things that I actually am good at."
Nixon: For Eleanor, it was a deal breaker of sorts. I think she was still very much in love with him, but she never shared his bed again. TV Guide: Do you think, as some people do, that she then had affairs with both women and men?
Nixon: [Nods] It seems very clear that she and [journalist] Lorena Hickok had a long-standing relationship, and probably one with her bodyguard as well. TV Guide: On the subject of men, what sort of guys prefer Miranda over the other three ladies of Sex and the City?
Nixon: New York men. I've had guys come up to me and say, "You're every woman I've ever dated." [Laughs] TV Guide: Is that flattering or a dis?
Nixon: I think it's a mix. People understand her kind of aggressiveness. She's very New York. TV Guide: When I talked to you and Kristin Davis last year, you both really wanted to do a Sex and the City movie.
Nixon: [Nods] Yeah. TV Guide: Was it definitely Kim Cattrall who killed the project?
Nixon: [Warily] Um-hmm... TV Guide: What didn't she like about it?
Nixon: I have no desire to talk about it. It's so dead. TV Guide: Do you still get together with your Sex and the City costars?
Nixon: Oh, yeah! I was just at Sarah Jessica [Parker's] 40th birthday party — it was really fun. And Kristin [Davis, who lives in Los Angeles] comes into New York a lot. TV Guide: So I shouldn't ask about Kim?
Nixon: [She makes a face and laughs.] TV Guide: Both you and Sarah Jessica were child actors. How did you avoid the child-actor curse?
Nixon: We both come from very strong families. I also think that it's easier if you work in the theater, rather than movies or TV. [And] it's not like Sarah or I was the cutest thing people had ever seen. It's hard to be that cutest thing and then grow into someone interesting. TV Guide: Your personal life has attracted the attention of the tabloids lately.
Nixon: It's a pain, but it's not anything like Sarah Jessica has to deal with. I still live my life. TV Guide: Would you like to clear up any mistruths they've printed?
Nixon: OK. I have not moved to Brooklyn [where her girlfriend lives]. I'm not adopting a baby. And I'm not avoiding gay events. I'll be at the GLAAD [Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] dinner tonight presenting an award. TV Guide: Since you always said you weren't interested in marriage, you won't campaign for gay marriage, will you?
Nixon: I might. Whether or not I want to get married is sort of beside the point. I feel like it's a total civil rights issue. TV Guide: You had a really strong guest role on ER as a young mom who was paralyzed and mute after a stroke. What was the toughest part about that?
Nixon: Having to have that makeup on all day and trying to eat. I had [also] never seen [ER]. [Laughs] I never see anything, which can be really embarrassing at awards shows. TV Guide: Are you looking for another series?
Nixon: [Nods] If there were another series in New York that I liked. TV Guide: What if it were in L.A.?
Nixon: No. I've lived here all my life. My friends are here; my mother is here; my daughter's in school here; my children's father is here. TV Guide: Well, they film a lot of cop shows here. Would you be willing to don a badge?
Nixon: I'd do a show about garbagemen if it was good! TV Guide: What's next for you?
Nixon: I'm doing a movie, The Last Best Thing. I play the mother of a 16-year-old boy who's dying of cancer. It's a tearjerker, but with a lot of humor. And then I'm doing Talley's Folly on Broadway. It's a love story. TV Guide: What's your dream for your life? Professionally and personally?
Nixon: Not to leave New York. [Laughs]