The cast and creators of Sex and the City have shared tributes in memory of their costar and former colleague, Willie Garson, who died on Tuesday aged 57.
Willie was best known for playing the role of Stanford Blatch, Carrie Bradshaw’s best friend and one of the show's most beloved LGBTQ characters.
Stanford was a regular guest star on the show, which aired from 1998 to 2004, joining the main characters (Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte) in all six seasons on TV as well as the two subsequent SATC movies.
Willie was also set to reprise his role in the upcoming reboot — And Just Like That — and was photographed filming scenes for the show in the months before his death.
After SATC ended, Willie also played the character Mozzie on USA Network’s White Collar between 2009 and 2014, and earlier in his career, he made appearances on iconic TV shows like Friends, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Boy Meets World.
In addition to his success onscreen, Willie was an advocate for the adoption community, with his son, Nathen Garson, announcing the death of his father in a moving Instagram post on Tuesday.
“I love you so much papa. Rest In Peace and I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much,” Nathen wrote. “I’m so proud of you. I will always love you, but I think it’s time for you to go on an adventure of your own.”
“You’ll always be with me. Love you more than you will ever know and I’m glad you can be at peace now,” he added. “You always were the toughest and funniest and smartest person I’ve known. I’m glad you shared you’re love with me. I’ll never forget it or lose it.”
A representative for HBO and HBO Max spoke on behalf of the reboot’s cast and crew in a statement on the And Just Like ThatInstagram page, writing: “Willie Garson was in life, as on screen, a devoted friend and a bright light for everyone in his universe. He created one of the most beloved characters from the HBO pantheon and was a member of our family for nearly twenty-five years.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones,” the statement continued.
And since the tragic news of his death last night, a number of Willie’s SATC costars have personally shared heartfelt tributes in his honor, including Cynthia Nixon, who starred alongside him as Miranda Hobbes.
“So deeply, deeply sad we have lost @WillieGarson,” she tweeted, alongside an image of the two. “We all loved him and adored working with him. He was endlessly funny on-screen and in real life. He was a source of light, friendship and show business lore. He was a consummate professional — always.”
“My heart goes out to his son, Nathen Garson,” she added. “Nathen, I hope you know how much he loved you and how proud he was to be your dad.”
And in a rare reference to the show, Kim Cattrall — who starred as Samantha Jones — also shared an old snap of herself and Willie on set. She wrote: “Such sad news and a terribly sad loss to the SATC family. Our condolences and RIP dear Willie xo.”
Elsewhere, a third member of the iconic foursome mourned the loss of Willie. Kristin Davis — who played Charlotte York Goldenblatt — paid tribute to her castmate’s “fearless commitment to single fatherhood.”
“He was smarter and funnier than you ever would have imagined. We are bereft without him,” she wrote on Instagram. “But I really want to pay tribute to his fearless commitment to single fatherhood. We spoke about being single parents through adoption often. And nothing gave him more joy and pride than his son Nathen. Nathen’s strength and wisdom beyond his years are evident in his beautiful tribute to his dad. The outpouring of love is earned dear Willie.”
SATC’s Mr. Big — played by Chris Noth — also gave a short tribute of his own with a photograph of Willie and Sarah Jessica Parker on set as their characters Stanford and Carrie. He captioned the picture, “Willie,” followed by a heart and a broken heart emoji.
Another one of the show’s leading men, Evan Handler — who played Charlotte’s husband, Harry Goldenblatt — mourned the loss of his castmate on Instagram last night with a heartfelt message.
“Willie Garson, or, ‘The Mayor.’ Invitee to the weddings of Sir Elton and Elvis Costello. Friend and/or acquaintance to…well, everyone. Of greatest significance, adoptive father to a foster child,” Evan wrote beneath a photograph of himself and Willie jokingly posing for a fight.
“My heart grieves for his son, for the entire #SATC and #AJLT universe, and for the world at large. We’ve lost a consummate funny — and family — man, and they were in short enough supply already,” he said.
Meanwhile, Miranda's onscreen husband, Steve Brady — played by David Eigenberg — honored "the kindest most beautiful beautiful man" in a tweet last night.
And last but not least, Mario Cantone — who brought to life Stanford’s archnemesis turned husband, Anthony — posted a tribute to his “brilliant TV partner” with a photograph of the onscreen couple.
He wrote, “I couldn’t have had a more brilliant TV partner. I’m devastated and just overwhelmed with Sadness. Taken away from all of us way soon. You were a gift from the gods sweet Willie. Rest …I love you.”
Big names behind the scenes of the era-defining show also mourned the loss of their friend and colleague, with Darren Star — the creator of SATC — paying tribute to “the man behind Stanford.”
“Sweet, soulful and hilariously funny, Willie touched all of us with his big heart and generous spirit. The man behind Stanford was a loving father, a mensch to his friends and radiated kindness to all. He is gone much too soon,” the show’s creator wrote.
What’s more, Candace Bushnell, author of the novel of the same name that inspired the show, credited Willie for “bringing Stanford to life so beautifully,” adding, “what a gift to us all.”
And as fans of the franchise continue to mourn the loss of one of its most memorable characters, a wave of celebrities have also shared moving tributes online.
Willie’s White Collar costar, Matt Bomer, shared a carousel of images in memory of his onscreen partner in crime. Fellow actors including Billy Porter and Sharon Stone left their condolences beneath Matt’s heartfelt message on Instagram.
“Willie. I don’t understand. And it’s not fair. This past year, you taught me so much about courage and resilience and love. I still haven’t wrapped my head around a world without you in it- where I can’t call you when I need to laugh, or be inspired,” he began. “I know that it wasn’t reflective of the pain you were going through, but it was indicative of everything you were and are to me: someone who lifted me up, who made me better, and who always, always made me smile.”
It's undeniable that Willie not only brought life and energy to his scenes with the women on the show, but also created a character who resonated strongly with viewers as the most prominent LGBTQ voice within the SATC franchise.
In light of this, Grammy and Oscar award-winning musician Sam Smith expressed their heartbreak at the loss, revealing that Stanford’s character was “one of the first people on television who made [them] feel seen and understood.”
And while information about the cause of Willie’s death has not officially been made public, Michael Patrick King — the executive producer of SATC and And Just Like That — said in a statement that Willie had been sick while shooting the reboot.
“The Sex and the City family has lost one of its own. Our amazing Willie Garson,” he said. “His spirit and his dedication to his craft was present every day filming And Just Like That. He was there — giving us his all — even while he was sick. His multitude of gifts as an actor and person will be missed by everyone. In this sad, dark moment we are comforted by our memory of his joy and light.”
In the months before his death, Willie had been photographed filming for And Just Like That on the streets of NYC and had shared several posts on Instagram ahead of the highly anticipated reboot.
Actor Bradley Whitford revealed in his tribute to Willie that he had spoken to him before the reboot began filming and told fans that Willie had been “excited about what was to come.”
So, with And Just Like That still in production, it remains to be seen how writers will tackle the loss of one of its most beloved characters. However, if we are lucky, we can hopefully look forward to catching one final glimpse of Willie Garson reprising his role as Stanford Blatch when the reboot airs.