Sex and the City

updated 06/01/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/01/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

kyle maclachlan (trey)

He's not a dud with women; he just plays one on TV

ON HIS LAST TV SERIES—THE QUIRKY, EARLY-'90s drama Twin Peaks—Kyle MacLachlan played an FBI agent with a nearly insatiable desire for cherry pié. But as Dr. Trey McDougal, the new husband of Charlotte York (Kristin Davis), it's his lack of appetite—in the bedroom, anyway—that has viewers talking. "Last season, I'd be out walking the dog and a cab driver or doorman would shout, 'I know you can do it!' " MacLachlan, 42, says with a laugh. Of course, it's easy for him to take Trey's condition in stride. Not only is the actor's role as a "flat, flaccid preppy the opposite of Kyle," says executive producer Michael Patrick King, but his real-life romantic history includes a past engagement to supermodel Linda Evangelista and relationships with actresses Lara Flynn Boyle and Laura Dern. "He's so handsome," says Sex and the City costumer Rebecca Weinberg, "he could put on a paper bag and look great." Still, the actor—who now dates publicist Desiree Gruber, 33, splitting his time between her Manhattan apartment and his house in the Hollywood Hills—does admit to feeling insecure about his nearly naked Sex scenes. "They're a great motivator for staying in shape," he says.

john corbett (aidan)

A former steelworker and hairstylist he's a jack of all trades

CALL HIM THE ANTI-BIG. AFTER the show's resident cad threw Carrie's heart in the kitchen blender, producers sought an antidote—someone "emotionally available but not a wimp," says writer and consulting producer Jenny Bicks. In stepped furniture designer Aidan Shaw, a man so sincere he even sands her floors. And who better for the role than John Corbett, the 39-year-old actor who played sincere deejay Chris Stevens in the early-'90s CBS series Northern Exposure. In fact, Corbett, who later beefed up his he-man credentials doing Ford truck commercials, got the job without an audition.

"John's Aidan grew on all of us as he grew on Carrie," says writer and co-executive producer Cindy Chupack, who adds that his performance in last season's breakup scene "blew us away—Sarah was genuinely crying in response." Maybe that's because Aidan, unlike most of the men on Sex and the City, is what Corbett calls a "decent guy." The 6'5" actor, who is single and has homes in Honolulu and Seattle, told USA Today, "In general, guys take a beating on this show. But I guess we deserve it." Corbett himself is "very much like Aidan," says Bicks. "A warm, caring guy." And if he's believable as a furniture maker, perhaps it's because this Wheeling, W.Va., native has also worked with his hands. Before a steady stream of TV commercials came his way in the late '80s, Corbett worked in a steel factory as a welder and pipe fitter—and graduated from beauty school as a licensed hairstylist.

Not that he needs a fallback. Aidan's arrival has added a competitive spark to Sex, dividing female fans into two camps: Mr. Big backers and Aidan advocates. This season, Corbett "looks better than ever and his character is richer because he's been hurt," says Chupack. "He's not the same trusting, lovestruck guy he was."

david eigenberg (steve)

This laid-back carpenter nails his character

HE HAD NO IDEA WHAT HIS character would be doing this season, and he couldn't have cared less. "When they came to me to come back on the show, I said it doesn't really matter what they do with me," says David Eigenberg, 37, who was introduced in Season No. 2 as guileless bartender Steve Brady, Miranda's erstwhile flame. "I'm happy to be on that show in any capacity."

It's a good thing, too, because there would be no Steve without Eigenberg. He auditioned for another part, but "we saw him and thought, 'He'd be good with Miranda because he's so grounded and she's so brittle,' " says executive producer Michael Patrick King. "We wrote the character of Steve with David in mind. He read for the part and it was a perfect marriage."

Raised in the Chicago suburbs, Eigenberg foundered in high school. He then spent five weeks at the University of Iowa, before being kicked out of his dorm for trashing it. Later he straightened out by working in construction and by learning, during a stint with the Marines, "how to keep my mouth shut." Says Cynthia Nixon, who plays Miranda: "David's a real guy. He's very suspicious of actors and actor-speak. He's a doer, not a talker."

One of the things he has been doing, along with making guest appearances on TV's Ed and playing Richard Gere's friend in the upcoming sci-fi thriller The Mothman Prophecies, is refurbishing his Manhattan apartment by himself. "I'm a better carpenter than I am an actor," he insists. For now, though, thanks to Sex and the City, he's garnering a lot of attention. "A woman will come up and say, 'It's so sad that you and Miranda split up,' " says the unmarried Eigenberg. "And I'll say, 'I'm single now. I'm available.' "

willie garson (stanford)

A character actor with connections, he's one of the busiest guys in Hollywood

A CLOSE PAL OF SARAH JESSICA PARKER'S FOR 15 YEARS, Willie Garson delights in playing Carrie's gay buddy Stanford Blatch. "Sarah and I would hang out with each other all day anyway," he says. "Now we get paid for it." Turns out the New Jersey-raised Garson, 37, who is single and straight ("I'm probably not married yet, because I'm only going to do it once"), knows a lot of people. "I've worked with everyone," he says. Over the course of his 20-year career, the Wesleyan University grad has appeared in some 50 films and 200 TV episodes with stars including Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue) and Gillian Anderson (The X-Files). "You'll turn on the television," says castmate David Eigenberg, "and be like, 'There's Willie.' " Still, Garson, who spends his time off at home in L.A., is always on the lookout for his next role. "If I could, I'd work every day," he says. "I love having a place to go to."

craig bierko (ray)

This new Carrie beau is one stand-up (comedy) guy

HE'S DEFINITELY A QUICK-CHANGE ARTIST. ONE day, Craig Bierko, 36, was suited up for his stint as the lead in Broadway's The Music Man. The next day, he was ready for action as Carrie's jazz-musician boyfriend Ray King in two new episodes of Sex and the City. "We said hello," the Rye Brook, N.Y., native recalls, "stripped down to our underwear and pretended to have sex for a couple of hours in front of 40 people. Sadly, it was no different than most of my relationships." Bierko, who lives in Manhattan, protests too much. After all, he dated actress Charlize Theron for two years and was later linked with Janeane Garofalo, who introduced him to stand-up comedy. Notes Music Man director and choreographer Susan Stroman: "He's charming and witty and gracious." Still, Bierko, who refused to reveal his character's fatal flaw in advance, except to say "I have the same particular mental deficiency as he does," revels in his role. "Every single woman I'm interested in is a fan of the show," he says. "Any clue I can grab I'm grateful for."

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