Michael Patrick King had big plans for Willie Garson's Stanford Blatch.
But his vision for the character changed when the actor died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 57 in September. And Just Like That... King had to reimagine a Sex and the City reboot without Garson.
In episode four of the series, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) gets a letter from Stanford, who writes that he's decided to move to Tokyo to manage a teen TikToker. According to his husband, Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone), he couldn't bring himself to tell her the news in person as she was mourning the death of Big (Chris Noth).
Anthony received a letter of his own, in which Stanford asked for a divorce.
The showrunner told Variety that if it weren't for Garson's death, the show would've played out a lot differently.
"Before I knew that Willie was sick and couldn't complete it, Stanford was going to have a midlife crisis," he shared, saying that the character would've been in all 10 episodes. "Stanford's character always had a borderline career as a manager, and we were like going to explore the fact that it wasn't a real career. It was going to be Carrie and him, feeling the shifts."
The one thing that King kept in the rewritten version was Stanford and Anthony's divorce, saying, "Anthony and him were probably going to have split anyway."
The divorce would've paved the way for Carrie and Stanford to restore the close friendship they had before Big came along. "But there was a series of really fun, flirty, hilarious confidante scenes with Carrie that I loved," King shared. "That old, old, very specific chemistry that Carrie and Stanford have, which is based totally on the uniqueness of Willie and Sarah Jessica's history."
He added that Stanford and Anthony's divorce would've been for the best as the nemeses-turned-lovers had realized they were better off as friends: "Everybody would be relieved that they were divorced."
King acknowledged it wasn't an ideal sendoff for such a beloved character but he thinks it would've been too morbid to kill Stanford in the show, especially after Big suffered a heart attack in episode one. "It's the most threadbare writing I've ever done just to move him along without much maneuvering, because it was just so sad," he explained. "There was no way I could write myself out of that in any charming, cute way."
Other changes were made to the series too. King confirmed Noth was edited out of the season finale after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, accusations that Noth denies. King said it was a necessary change because "I didn't want the entire story to be about whether someone was or wasn't in the show."
The series finale of And Just Like That streams on HBO Max on Thursday, Feb. 3.