She will always be known as the slightly prudish, preppy Charlotte on the HBO series “Sex and the City,” but that hasn’t been a problem for actress Kristin Davis.
She stars in the movie “Of Two Minds,” airing Saturday on Lifetime. The movie tackles the difficult issues of mental illness, caretakers and when it’s time to get professional help. In her off-screen life, the 47-year-old actress is a new mother, adopting Gemma Rose.
An animal-rights advocate, she became interested in the plight of African elephants while on safari. Davis is a passionate supporter of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to protect orphaned elephants and help injured ones return to the wild. For more information, go to www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: You play a caretaker in the Lifetime movie. Have you had to deal with that in your off-screen life yet?
A: I’m not the main caretaker of my family — my mom is. But I have seen a lot of it. Both of my grandparents lived to be very old and passed away at our house. My mom is a brilliant caretaker. But it is very challenging on the whole family, really, in terms of how it is shifting and changing your family and what is best for the person who is not well and what’s best for your children. How are you keeping yourself healthy at the same time? I think it is something that is happening in our culture, and it is very relatable whether the person is mentally ill or aging. They’re kind of similar issues.
Q: In the movie, as the caretaker of a mentally ill sister, you have to make a difficult choice. Have you had to make a decision as challenging in your life?
A: (Laughs) My personal life — I have not had to make any choices as big as that. My biggest challenges have been how and if and when I would have a baby, which I have now finally figured out. It’s a very, very big decision, and it took me a long time to kind of suss out my own personal situation. But I did and now it’s fantastic. So I haven’t had to face these things. My parents are both healthy — thank God!
Q: Now that you are a mother, will it influence the kind of projects you choose?
A: You know, what I think it mostly influences is the location and how much you want to work. This is the first job I’ve done since Gemma came into my life. I really struggled with whether I should do it or not. Part of it was that it was kind of happening simultaneously to her adoption. They kept offering (the role) to me, and I kept waffling, kind of like a crazy person. (Laughs). I am usually definitive — either yes or no. I didn’t know what I could handle. You don’t know as a single mom, especially. I wanted to do what was best, and I was hoping everything would work out with Gemma, and it did, thank goodness.
Luckily, (Lifetime) pushed it back for me so I could have some time with just her and me and then go to work. But it was really hard. It’s obviously something every mom can relate to. I mean, I’m really lucky to get to work. I am really lucky to be a successful actress. I am very pleased with that, but there were days where I was like no, no, no, no, I’m not interested in this anymore. (Laughs)
Q: When you play a character for as long as you played Charlotte, does some of the character’s personality meld with your own? Do you think in character?
A: Oh, I think we are meshed even beyond separation. There is no separation. I mean, it’s like we had the most kind of tremendously creative experience with “Sex in the City.”
I remember in the very first season people would say, “Well, how are you different?” I would have a list of Charlotte qualities and a list of Kristin qualities. After a while, I just tore that list up. But I don’t think I think in character off the set, no. I see clothes and I think, “That’s a Charlotte dress or a Charlotte shoe.” And then I think, “Oh, I don’t need that right now.” (Laughs). I am so used to being in that mode that I am sometimes looking for things for her. You know what I mean?
Q: Now that there is some distance with that character, it must be fading.
A: No, not really. You know why? And it is a great thing. It is because people talk to us every day. When I leave the house, someone will talk to me about the show, which is, of course, great. It means we are a success. But it doesn’t leave you because of that. That is how the world perceives you. It’s a great thing. I don’t mind it.
Q: You are an animal advocate and known for your work with elephants. Do you check in on the elephant you adopted when you were on safari?
A: Oh, yes. I check in on all of the elephants there because I adopted many of the elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I love them so much. It makes me excited to hear about them. I usually go every year. My dilemma now is when do I want to take my daughter. She is only 6 months old, so she is not going to remember it.
Q: Isn’t it kind of scary to put them back into the wild knowing what could happen?
A: In some ways. I understand what you are saying, that there are potential poachers who could get them. Yes that is very scary, absolutely. There is one elephant that I particularly love named Cora, who has now been shot with arrows twice. Cora has come back twice, and they have rehabilitated him and he is OK right now. People need to know not to buy ivory.