It’s only been in movie theaters five days, but “Sex and The City” franchise newcomer Raza Jaffrey, is already getting stopped in the street by wide-eyed series devotees.
It has nothing to do with steely stares, alpha male bravado or the kind of abs that would shame a member of the “Twilight Saga’s” wolf pack. Raza’s character, Carrie Bradshaw’s Abu Dhabi butler Garau, shows none of that. As Garau, the British actor spends his entire time on screen, buttoned up in a uniform and – at first glance – appears austere, not suave.
Garau’s steeliness quickly breaks way to a gentle sincerity when Carrie, haunted by her relationship troubles and Miranda’s snoring, runs into the butler in the middle of the Middle Eastern night. He performs for her a simple-yet-grand sort of kindness, preparing some warm milk, lightly stirring cinnamon into the calming liquid.
“You know, I never thought when I did the scene, people would be thinking about my milk stirring action,” Raza chuckles when Access Hollywood points out the touching big screen moment, one of the film’s most poignant. “It’s very strange… it is important to people that cinnamon bit. I’ve had someone come up to me in the street on Saturday morning and say to me, ‘My mother hasn’t stopped putting cinnamon in her tea… since she saw that scene.’”
It was more than just his tender turning of a utensil in a saucepan that’s prompted people to remember the moment. Garau doesn’t just ease Carrie’s late night stomach. In a few softly spoken words, he offers a temporary calmness to her wedded woes by painting a tremendously romantic picture of his own long distance relationship. Raza gives the credit for the scene, however, to writer/director/producer, Michael Patrick King.
“It would have been very easy — in a lesser writer’s hands — to have turned that character into kind of a token comedy Indian butler… knocking things over and pulling faces. Michael was always so determined that there was a nobility and this guy was doing his best in the job that he had,” Raza said. “If he’s going to make milk, he’s going to make milk the best he can for Carrie because he’s there to serve and earn his money and do his duty, which I think is an important top note for the film really, because it’s about being loyal to somebody and doing what you’re supposed to do, fulfilling your role as well, in life. But that’s Michael Patrick King.”
Although Raza’s starred on the London stage and in a number of popular British dramas — “Spooks” (think a less sci-fi “Alias”) and the BBC’s “Mistresses” (where his heart was repeatedly stamped on by a cheating Irish wife) — with talented stars, he found Sarah Jessica Parker to be an unexpected delight. Beyond her passion for acting, Raza admitted to appreciating her enthusiasm for others.
“Obviously in the last few months… I’ve seen her with people and seen her with fans and she’s got an extraordinary grace with people,” he said. “She’s got an extraordinary interest in people and people’s backgrounds… She’s a real kind of testament to what actors can do with their career and…be good people.”
Raza shared some time on set with Kim Cattrall too, with whom he shares a birthplace – The Beatles’ hometown, Liverpool, England, though like Samantha’s portrayer, he didn’t grow up there.
“We talked about that. I’m happy to go and see Kim in ‘Anthony and Cleopatra,’ which she’s doing up in Liverpool at the end of summer” he said. “People in Liverpool, they kind of like their own and believe me, they’re pretty hot on Kim up there.”
While his birthplace fawns over Kim this summer, Kim’s adopted homeland, the USA, is where Raza is headed for the sunny months. It’s not his first time on this side of the Atlantic. As a youth, he grew fond of picturesque American water bodies like Lake Wylie and warm August breezes as his family – including his two brothers and a sister (he’s the youngest) — spent their summer vacation in the Carolinas. More recently, he’s spent time in New York City, where he has a godson, and Los Angeles.
“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time there and I’m looking forward to spending even more,” Raza said of his upcoming sojourn. “So when I come out in the summer, I’ll come out for some specific meetings, but I’m hoping to stay a bit longer. I’d love to call the states my home for a bit more of the year than it is at the moment.”
They may miss him, but his family is unapologetically supportive.
“I’ve got a family who have always been phenomenally supportive, particularly my father,” Raza said recalling a charming story about how his proud papa rode a London subway escalator multiple times to remove a bit of goo someone had lazily put on his son’s “Bombay Dreams” London musical poster a few years ago.
“I got the notion that he’d gone up and down four times trying to scrape this thing off. I said, ‘Dad, that’s fine. That’s above and beyond the call of duty,’” Raza recalled proudly. “They’ve always been fantastically supportive.”