And this way…we were at another funeral.
After the creators of the “Sex and the City” reboot murdered Mr. Page at the premiere of “And Just Like That…” last week, die-hard fans of the show couldn’t help but think about the death of another iconic figure in the HBO original series: Lexi Featherston.
In an episode called “Splat!” The perfect 40-year-old party girl in New York meets her end by falling out of an 18-story open window after a dramatic sermon weeping over the city’s cultural demise. Played by “3rd Rock From the Sun” star Kristen Johnston, the bold and rude character firmly entrenched herself in the zeitgeist. A brief moment remains to this day. So we can’t help but wonder: What does Johnston have to say now that she’s been replaced by an even more shocking death?
“I heard there was a huge death and peloton,” Johnston, 54, told TODAY on Friday. At the time, you hadn’t seen the premiere of the reboot. “Unfortunately, I’m on Twitter so all the spoilers have been released. I’ll be watching it this weekend.”
Today, get together with Johnston to reflect on the lovable, lovable character, lovable scene, and backdrop of the moment.
Today: How did you get involved with “Sex and the City”?
Kristen Johnston: So I’ve been friends with Sarah Jessica (Parker) for years. We were both at the Naked Angels Theater together during our early days in New York. I’ve literally known her since we were in our twenties. She and I have always talked about me one day while doing this. And through her too, I got to know Michael Patrick King and all that crowd. They asked me many times to do (the show) and for whatever reason, I could never do it and it stretched.
So finally, it’s last season and I say, “I can’t believe I’m never going to do your show after all this.” Then Michael called me and said to me, “We’ve got this little role we want you to do. It’s only two scenes. Shoot it in one day. Be in and out. It’s episode two until the last. I was, like, totally. I was so excited. I was going to Just a show with a friend and doing a little guest role. We shot it in just one day. I was in a play at the time and moved on from it.
Then when it aired, I was living in New York. I mean, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this must be like what it’s really famous for’ because the next day, I live in the village and it was like everyone was just yelling, ‘Oh, Queen! Can you send my outgoing message? This came back when it was We have a voice mail. They were like, ‘Can you be my outgoing message and say ‘New York is over!’ And that went on for three months. Felt a bit like I was the Beatles or something. I had no reaction to anything like that.
Today: Yes, I had a roommate in 2007 who repeated the “Oh, candle” line to me daily. Is it weird being in one of the most long-running sitcoms of the ’90s and then that’s the thing that makes you recognize it?
Johnston: (laughs) “It’s cool because the only thing I mean is that I’ve been in this business for an embarrassingly long time at this point. The only thing I know for sure is whatever you think is going to be successful and it will change your life isn’t going to happen. And then, whatever it is you love” Oh, whatever, I’m going to shoot this little thing with a friend of mine that suddenly becomes this iconic thing for the ages.So I guess the lesson is never to suppose.
Everything that will happen is most likely the opposite. But it was fun. Anytime something like this hits the zeitgeist or a bit, it obviously hits a lot of people in this real way. I think New York was in transition and people were feeling nostalgic for this kind of more modern New York and I picked up on that or did the writing. So when you’re lucky enough to be a part of something like this, that’s great. So you can kind of take it this way, that’s so cool that I was able to do it.
Today: Were there any things that were kind of going on behind the scenes?
Johnston: I know people know Sarah as a producer and whatever but I was amazed. They were in pre-production for the end, the two piers were filmed in Paris, and she was every now and then with her baby. James Wilkie was just a kid at the time and was hanging out and dealing with costume design, production design, and choosing wallpaper to put in the suite where she was staying in Paris. She was all about from a producer’s perspective, with a more subdued, kind of chill, “Let me just tell you what it would be like,” kind of attitude focused on the look and feel of each episode. I have to say, I had a whole moment with Mary Tyler Moore like, “I really like you.” It was awkward, but she really managed it. She managed everything in the most elegant way. I was very impressed with her.
Today: Are you still friends today?
Johnston: we. I now live in Los Angeles, so you know, that’s kind of the opposite coast but yeah. I mean, I love her but we don’t see each other that often.
Today: You have been very open about your addiction, recovery, and sobriety. What was the experience of living whatever you were at the time with your own addiction and then playing this character who obviously had some addictive things going on as well. Was it good or was it weird?
Johnston: No, I mean, looking at the 20/20 Goggles type, there were clearly some similarities in my life with Lexi at that point. At the time, it was a very impressive performance. I didn’t show up in a high group or anything. I was like, oh, I have to play like this girl and I know this girl and party with this girl, so I’m going to do it. But then obviously looking at that, I’m like, OK, yeah, maybe that was a little uncomfortably close to what I really was. you know? But at the time, I was literally like, ‘Oh, you know, it’s a performance.’
T: Was there anything impromptu or was this scene heavily scripted?
Johnston: It is 100% fully written. I didn’t improvise at all. They were very on it. But the only funny thing is that you mentioned “Oh, candle!” The line that was actually made in episodes because they saw the scene afterwards and were like, “Wait, how did she end up lighting the cigarette?” Somehow there was nothing to cover it. So they made me go in and just say, “Oh, candle!” into the microphone and then put it in the scene.
Today: I feel like this scene and character has been brought back to life because during the pandemic, “Is New York Dead?” The question is definitely back.
Johnston: Everyone in New York gets this, it’s like staying long at the party. I’ve always been jealous of those people who can leave at 2 am and then of course I’m there until noon three days later. So I was always that kind of person, too. There is such a thing as just staying too long at the party and unfortunately, Lexi stayed too long at the party.
today: You just re-watched the episode and after your death you get into those beautiful moments when it snows and there is this montage. It stands out to my mind as a bit more endearing than we actually remember.
Johnston: That’s what this show did and it was really cool at the time. It was not this or that. It was very funny, heartbreaking and exciting. At the time, you had to be one or the other on TV, or at least you felt that way. And so just to watch a show that was able to swing the same scene even between both, I think it was really new and really hard to write with wisdom and tone but they always let it go.