Kim Cattrall produced and stars in this new half hour HBO comedy. Fifty-something Davina and Al,  her husband of thirty years (Don McKellar) have given up the burbs to live “urban” in an empty, tiny Toronto condo. The shift sparks doubts and anxieties and visions and it’s not easy to make sense of life.   The show is radically different, low key yet funny, dramatic and extraordinarily moving.
Davina is a new kind of TV heroine. She is a woman in her fifties, plagued by insecurities but still open to life. It’s extraordinary.
It’s true. All of that that is true and that’s another thing, it’s like we’re in a cardboard box that’s damp. We are so ripe for it. There was no resistance to it. We’re baby boomers and we’re making entertainment. I want to sit in a cinema or in front of my TV or a theatre for a live show and see something I haven’t seen before.
There are so many stories to tell. Bring me a new character, a protagonist who is having difficulty moving forward. A protagonist usually makes change, but change is happening and Davina is terrified. To have a protagonist be passive in a way was real. People usually see me playing women who do what they want who go after it and get it. This is how women are represented so often. Either you’re passive and have no personality and fade into the background or you’re a game changer and you come in and have two scenes and its two dimensional. In Sensitive Skin, you see someone who is causing change in a gradual, realistic way. It doesn’t start with Episode One saying “I hate you and I’m going to change things.”
Instead you see her quest. It’s realistic and it’s fresh for the audience.
Davina’s prone to withdrawal and contemplative moments. And she’s having visions of advice-giving Egyptian mummies, three Tolstoy characters and a dying woman.  
They’re very private moments and so are the delusions are an extension of the private moments talking to her in the first episode. Those delusions are aspects of her and they’re not always telling her the right thing to do. Just as you speak to yourself. I shouldn’t have done this, I could have done this.   Don said we needed to get inside Davina’s head so the audience is pulled into the vortex of how she sees the world.
There is a great realism and connection between Davina and Al. How did you and Don build that?
There weren’t a lot of takes. I asked to do rehearsals and Don and I did improv so when we got on set we had a solid connection. I’ve never had a 30 year relationship, and we had a short time to make it believable. This is about two people in a relationship who love each other. We made rehearsals part of the schedule, and it was like playing volleyball, so we could rely on each other. I was trying to take aspects of my theatre life, like getting to know who you’re working with as an actor so the trust is there. Then we are relating, not performing. It’s not like doing film and TV shows where you do your bit and that’s that. And I didn’t want that for the other actors either. I wanted to be a family and that was through rehearsal.
There is a thirst for shows like Sensitive Skin. Older women will feel acknowledged in meaningful ways.
I’m really in this incredible position to make things happen. I want to say something and I have something to say and I want to say it and talk about being a middle aged woman, not just someone with hot flashes and a sex drive and a young man. There’s much more internal conflict than that. I wanted to make it funny and entertaining, not a lecture.
And you know I didn’t have children but I felt I went through childbirth and this is my baby and it’s so gratifying to see it. I sent early cut versions to older sister who is 60 and my niece who just graduated from medical school in Vancouver. Now here are two women from two generations watching a rough edit rough and they both emailed me and said “Wow!” and when could they get more episodes.
Sensitive Skin had a long gestation. Nine years!
I found this property in 2006 when I was in London,  doing a David Mamet play in the West End. I got a call from my agent that the head of comedy at BBC2, Jon Plowman wanted to meet.   He calls, you go. He asked me if I was interested in a half-hour comedy in England. It was a year and a half since Sex and the City ended and I said Yes!
It was a six episode series starring Joanna Lumley (Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous) that Hugo Block wrote, produced and directed. I said okay! I had my first binge watch experience and watched all six episodes and I was hooked. First of all it’s original, fresh smart funny, really funny and I thought I gotta do this. It was in development at HBO for 4 years but we couldn’t find the right collaborators. They were either too faithful to the original or turning it into a slapstick exercise. Creatively we were at a standstill. I took back the rights to make a feature which was even more difficult, especially funding so I kept the rights but put it on the shelf.
I was in Toronto at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in Private Lies and saw Don McKellar and thought, wow, he’d make a really good Al, the husband. He’s a filmmaker and an actor and he does comedy. I set up a meeting and we said let’s put to together and sell it, get a network and it was two years from that point to getting an adaptation and we shot it last year. So it’s been nine years.
The cast includes Elliott Gould, Colme Feore, Marc-AndrĂ© Grondin, Cle Bennet and Mary Walsh.
HBO Canada Airs the Entire First Season of Sensitive Skin on July 20 at 8PM ET.