Mr. Big (Sex and the City)
|Last appearance||Sex and the City 2|
|Created by||Candace Bushnell|
|Portrayed by||Chris Noth|
|Family||Mrs. Preston (mother)|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara (first ex-wife)
Natasha Naginsky (second ex-wife)
Carrie Bradshaw (wife)
John James "Mr. Big" Preston is a recurring fictional character in the HBO series Sex and the City, portrayed by Chris Noth. He is the primary on-and-off love interest of the series' protagonist, Carrie Bradshaw, who usually simply refers to him as "Big".
According to accounts in the press, the Mr. Big character was based on publishing executive Ron Galotti, former publisher of GQ and Talk. Bushnell told New York Magazine in 2004, "He was one of those New York guys with a big personality — you just notice him as soon as he walks in the room," and "I called him Mr. Big because he was like a big man on campus." Big appeared in Comcast's list of TV's Most Intriguing Characters.
"Big" appears in the first episode of Sex and the City as a very attractive stranger who helps Carrie pick up the contents of her purse (notably cosmetics and condoms) after she is accidentally bumped by a stranger on the streets of Manhattan. The nickname "Big" refers to his status as "the next Donald Trump" and "major tycoon, major dreamboat, and majorly out of [Carrie's] league". When Carrie and Samantha bump into Big at a nightclub, Samantha tries to hit on him, but he tactfully declines. In the first few episodes, he and Carrie frequently bump into one another, until finally Big suggests the two of them should bump into one another on purpose. Carrie agrees and thus begins their on-again-off-again relationship. Big calls Carrie by the nickname "Kid". Their conversation about being in love has become an iconic Sex and the City moment: Carrie asks Big if he has ever been in love and he replies, "Ab-so-fucking-lutely".
Carrie eventually falls in love with him, despite his frequent displays of commitment and intimacy phobias. His runic and reserved communication on relationship issues and Carrie's coping with the ambiguity are a frequent plot device. Carrie repeatedly returns to the relationship even though he is clearly emotionally unavailable to her and unable to meet her needs. Although it appears Mr. Big was emotionally crippled by a series of failed, serious relationships, the subject is often glossed over as him simply being selfish. Mr. Big's tendency to take major emotional steps in the relationship more slowly than Carrie is often portrayed as emotional unavailability rather than the caution born of a repeatedly broken heart. Carrie's misinterpretation of Mr. Big's inner turmoil as unreachable distance often creates larger issues because of her misplaced feelings of unworthiness, and due to her propensity for not communicating truthfully until too late, results in a lot of painful misunderstandings. Unfortunately Carrie accepts no responsibility for her impatience and lack of empathy, often forcing Big into do-or-die ultimatums(I.e. first break-up), and Big can't shed his ingrained emotional pessimism to fully embrace Carrie as a partner. They break up repeatedly, over the course of two years for those reasons, before Big marries a gorgeous twenty-six-year-old socialite and Ralph Lauren employee named Natasha (Bridget Moynahan) after dating her for only five months. This hurts Carrie, as she wonders why he could take steps with Natasha that he refused to take with Carrie. It becomes obvious later that Mr. Big had simply skipped many of the important emotional steps before marriage, many of which he had definitely, if slowly taken with Carrie, ironically creating the problems of distance and unavailability between Big and Natasha, which Carrie had so feared in their own relationship.
Within seven months of his marriage, he begins to chafe at his matrimonial bonds and pines for Carrie; he initiates an affair with her. Carrie, who is in a committed relationship (with Aidan Shaw) at the time, feels guilty but continues to see Big. The affair continues until Natasha comes home unexpectedly and discovers Carrie fleeing - half dressed - from the marital apartment. Natasha trips and breaks her tooth while chasing after Carrie, who ends up taking Natasha to the emergency room. As a result, Carrie ends the affair. Carrie later finds out that Big and Natasha have divorced.
Big and Carrie eventually manage to become close friends. He relocates to Napa Valley, and they are able to discuss their other ongoing relationships with each other. But their sexual chemistry always remains just below the surface, and their friendship never remains strictly platonic. After reading Carrie's book, Big begins to understand how much he has hurt her, and he empathizes further when a woman he is dating treats him in a fashion similar to the way Big has treated Carrie: at arm's length, eschewing true intimacy. The relationship between Big and the celebrity is certainly a parallel between Carrie/Big, except that the celebrity refuses physical intimacy one-sidedly, ignoring Big's overtures except when it suits her, whereas Carrie/Big's problems were almost completely emotional and undeniably two sided. Although it ends up allowing Big to finally get past his inner pain, the comparison is rather crude. Carrie's shortcomings are explored, but unfortunately never through any lens other than Big's emotional distance. Big grows as an emotional being, changing and evolving as the series progresses, moving past innate pain to suit Carrie's needs better, ostensibly becoming a "better man." Carrie, unfortunately has her neuroses repeatedly validated by her friends and herself, causing large amounts of emotional collateral damage( I.e. Aidan) along the way, learning valuable lessons, yet never admitting her failings in their relationship, other than indulgent musings on her own emotional "sado-masochism."
Big seems to have no real friends, at least in New York. He is rarely shown with other males, which are credited as colleagues or acquaintances. At one scene he is shown to spend New Year's Eve celebration alone, sitting at a restaurant, but seems to feel comfortable with the situation.
The series finale, An American Girl in Paris, Part Une and An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux, ties together the loose ends of Carrie and Big's relationship and concludes their long, unconventional courtship. Absent for most of season six, Big suddenly reappears in Carrie's life near the end of the season, once again at the wrong time. At this point, Carrie has grown tired and frustrated with Big's inconsistency and rebuffs him. However, Big is desperate to win Carrie back. The season finale depicts his attempt to reunite with her.
The series finale takes place over two episodes in which Carrie moves to Paris with her current boyfriend, Russian artist Aleksandr Petrovsky (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov). In the first half of the finale, "An American Girl in Paris Part Une", Big shows up outside Carrie's apartment in New York after she fails to return his phone calls. She is on her way to her last dinner with the girls before departing for Paris. Big attempts to invite Carrie to dinner and drinks in order to apologize for the way he treated her, only to be turned down. Carrie explains that she is moving to Paris with a man she's in a relationship with. Big ironically asks Carrie when she was going to tell him that she was moving to Paris, a reference to the time earlier in their relationship when Big moved to Napa and almost didn't tell Carrie. Big teases her about moving to Paris with a Russian and then tries to tell her that she's "The One". Carrie loses her temper and tells Big that she is tired of having him interrupt her life and ruin her happiness for the past six years. Then she rushes off to meet her friends for dinner, leaving Big alone and confused on the street.
When Charlotte stops by Carrie's apartment one day, she hears Big leaving a message on Carrie's answering machine, asking her for one last chance. Charlotte picks up and invites him to meet with her, Miranda, and Samantha. At a restaurant, he asks them if they think Carrie really is happy and if he has any shot of winning her back. After much deliberation, with Carrie's current situation and her history with Big in the forefront of their minds, Miranda tells him to "go get our girl". Mr. Big then does not appear again until the second installment of the finale, "An American Girl in Paris Part Deux".
Meanwhile, Carrie is distraught and unhappy in her relationship with Aleksandr. She passes Big in his limo on the street in Paris while looking for a cab, but neither of them see each other. Big appears to be searching for Carrie, but the limo rides on and Carrie continues on her way.
Big reappears in Carrie's hotel lobby at just the right moment, as Carrie is squatting down, tearfully gathering up stray diamonds from her broken necklace. She is waiting for a new hotel room, as she just walked out on Aleksandr after a big fight. Big comes through the door and as Carrie looks up and sees him, she begins to cry. She explains that everything is a mess and Paris isn't what she thought it would be. Then she tells Big that Alexandr slapped her during an argument. Big becomes protective and immediately begins climbing the stairs to Aleksandr's room to reprimand him (or as he puts it, "kick some Russian ass"). In a desperate attempt to stop him, Carrie trips him and they both fall to the floor, laughing hysterically. They give up seeking out Petrovsky and take a romantic stroll in Paris. He finally tells her she's the one and she asks him to take her home to New York. They arrive at Carrie's apartment late at night and she asks him if he wants to come up. He answers with a memorable line he used in the first episode ("abso-fucking-lutely"), which reminds the audience that he is still, in fact, the confident, sexy Big that Carrie has been in love with from day one.
His real name, John, is finally revealed on Carrie's cell phone caller ID after she returns to the city and he calls to tell her he is closing the sale of his Napa estate and returning to New York. Executive producer Michael Patrick King has stated that by never revealing his real name, Big remained "always slightly out of reach" for Carrie, and this plot device is maintained throughout the entire run of the series. Although we see his name in that final shot, Michael Patrick King makes a point (in the DVD commentary) that we never hear it spoken in the series.
In the feature film Sex and the City: The Movie, Carrie and Big decide to marry, after Carrie brings it up when she starts to feel anxious about her relationship's status. She has just returned from an auction of jewelry from the collection of a woman (who was the long-time girlfriend of a wealthy man) who was abruptly dumped and thrown out of the apartment she'd shared with him for many years. The cautionary tale worries Carrie, so Big proposes in order for Carrie to have legal rights to the fabulous penthouse they are purchasing together. However, their plans for a simple wedding balloon out of control after Vogue decides to feature her in a wedding gown in the magazine. The twice-divorced Big feels it has degenerated into a "circus", with hundreds of guests, unwanted publicity, and a tremendous designer wedding gown taking over the original plan for a small, private ceremony. An ill-thought comment from the just-separated and upset Miranda rattles him further. Just before the ceremony Big gives in to cold feet and bails, but rethinks the decision minutes later and rushes back. He intercepts Carrie as she is leaving the ceremony. A broken-hearted and humiliated Carrie attacks him with her bouquet, shrieking "I knew you would do this!" He repeatedly attempts to apologize and explain then and after, but Carrie ignores his letters and emails, and they spend months apart (close to a year) with no contact whatsoever.
When Carrie hires an assistant, Louise, she instructs her to "put Big in a place where she never has to hear from him again." So Louise creates a folder in Carrie's e-mail that is password protected and Big's many e-mails are saved in the secret folder. Charlotte later gives birth to a baby—her water breaking while she is yelling at Big for breaking Carrie's heart. Big takes her to the hospital and stays until the baby is born, hoping to run into Carrie. When Carrie arrives at the hospital, they tell her the tale. Harry reveals that Big begged her to call him, and that he's written her many letters. Puzzled, Carrie goes home and scours her mail, realizing that his e-mails are in Louise's secret folder. She guesses the password and finds that Big has re-written numerous love letters by poets, and one from himself promising to love her forever. Carrie's assistant reminds her that she left a pair of never-worn Manolo Blahnik shoes in the penthouse that she and Big owned, and that the locks will be changed for the new owners that day. Carrie rushes over to the penthouse to find Big there, holding her shoes. She runs into his arms as she can no longer deny her still very strong love for him. Carrie narrates, "It wasn't logic; it was love," and the two quietly marry at New York City Hall.
In Sex and the City 2 Carrie always wants to go out, while Mr. Big would prefer to stay home and watch television some evenings. After Carrie returns to her old apartment to work on an assignment and their reunion is particularly sweet, Big proposes to be separated for two days in the week, with one of them staying in Carrie's old apartment, which she has always kept. Carrie agrees, despite misgivings and questioning by Charlotte.
In Abu Dhabi, Carrie runs into her former love Aidan. Carrie and Aidan dated twice. They broke up the first time because Carrie and Big had an affair. They broke up a second time because Aidan still couldn't trust her after all that time due to her affair with Big, and after Aidan proposes, marriage doesn't sit well with Carrie, so the two break off their engagement. Aidan is now married with three boys and is in Abu Dhabi on business. The two agree to meet for dinner, despite warnings from Charlotte, who feels that Carrie is "playing with fire". Aidan and Carrie kiss before Carrie breaks away and runs to her hotel. Distraught about what to do, she eventually calls Big to confess to the kiss. He becomes distant and won't return her phone calls.
When Carrie returns to New York, the apartment is empty and she sits all day waiting for Big to come home. He finally returns that evening with her "punishment:: Carrie must wear a black diamond ring to remind herself that she is married. The two reconcile and kiss. The film concludes with a montage of scenes from the girls' lives - Big and Carrie have successfully combined their desires and interests, and the two are content as their married life has grown past the "Terrible Twos".
Avoiding the name
One interesting moment in the episode "Easy Come, Easy Go" (season three) involves Carrie running into Big and Natasha at a furniture show, shortly after Carrie begins dating Aidan Shaw (Carrie quips that she is Aidan's "Booth Bitch"). After introducing her boyfriend, Carrie is about to introduce Big (presumably by name), when she nervously spills coffee on him instead, derailing the scene and thereby avoiding having to reveal the mystery of Big's name for the audience.
In the episode "Defining Moments" in season four, Carrie begins introducing Big to the jazz musician, Ray King (played by Craig Bierko), but is interrupted when Ray tells Big that his drink is "running low".
In "The Caste System", Carrie is asked by Jeremiah, a waiter at a party, who she is with. Angered at Big at this time, Carrie simply responds, "Some guy."
In the episode "Three's a Crowd" in Season 1, Carrie is talking to Big's ex-wife, Barbara, when she asks if Carrie is with anyone. Carrie avoids the question so as not to let Barbara know she's seeing him, therefore keeping Big's name a mystery.
In "The Agony and the 'ex'tasy" in season 4, Carrie calls Big but gets the answering machine on which he introduces himself with his number instead of his name.
In the episode "The Big Journey" in season 5, Carrie is having a question and answer session during her book reading in San Francisco. Big raises his hand and asks her if the Big character in her book has a real name. Carrie responds by saying she has to protect his identity and can't use his real name.
In season 6 "An American Girl in Paris: Part Une" Mr. Big is leaving a message on Carrie's machine and is about to say his name when Charlotte picks up interrupting him.
In the final episode of the series Carrie receives a call from "John", who is Big.
In the full trailer for the Sex and the City: The Movie, Big's name is revealed to be John James Preston. In the movie, it is the first time we hear Carrie call him "John" instead of Big.
- "Sex and the City" (June 6, 1998)
- "Models and Mortals" (June 14, 1998)
- "Valley of the Twenty-Something Guys" (June 28, 1998)
- "Secret Sex" (July 12, 1998)
- "The Monogamists" (July 19, 1998)
- "Three's a Crowd" (July 26, 1998)
- "The Turtle and the Hare" (August 2, 1998)
- "The Drought" (August 16, 1998)
- "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" (August 23, 1998)
- "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (June 6, 1999)
- "The Awful Truth" (June 13, 1999)
- "Four Women and a Funeral" (July 4, 1999)
- "The Cheating Curve" (July 11, 1999)
- "The Chicken Dance" (July 18, 1999)
- "The Man, the Myth, the Viagra" (July 25, 1999)
- "Old Dogs, New Dicks" (August 1, 1999)
- "The Caste System" (August 8, 1999)
- "Evolution" (August 15, 1999)
- "La Douleur Exquise!" (August 22, 1999)
- "Twenty-Something Girls vs. Thirty-Something Women" (September 26, 1999)
- "Ex and the City" (October 3, 1999)
- "Drama Queens" (July 23, 2000)
- "The Big Time" (July 30, 2000)
- "Easy Come, Easy Go" (August 6, 2000)
- "All or Nothing" (August 13, 2000)
- "Running with Scissors" (August 20, 2000)
- "Cock-a-Doodle-Do" (October 15, 2000)
- "The Agony and the Ex-tacy" (June 3, 2001)
- "Defining Moments" (June 10, 2001)
- "Sex and the Country" (July 22, 2001)
- "Belles of the Balls" (July 29, 2001)
- "Just Say Yes" (August 12, 2001)
- "Ring a Ding Ding" (January 27, 2002)
- "I Heart NY" (February 10, 2002)
- "The Big Journey" (September 1, 2002)
- "The Perfect Present" (July 6, 2003)
- "Hop, Skip, and a Week" (July 27, 2003)
- "The Domino Effect" (September 7, 2003)
- "The Cold War" (February 1, 2004)
- "An American Girl in Paris: Part Une" (February 15, 2004)
- "An American Girl in Paris: Part Deux" (February 22, 2004)
- Last name from season 2 episode 18
- "TV's Most Intriguing Characters". Comcast. Retrieved February 1, 2013.