Film and TV

Late Sex and the City star Willie Garson’s second act was his most meaningful

Emma Powys Maurice September 22, 2021
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Willie Garson and Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of Sex and the City, laughing

Willie Garson and Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of Sex and the City. (Getty)

The late Willie Garson may be best known for playing Carrie Bradford’s gay best friend in Sex and the City, but his favourite role was being a father.

The acclaimed actor passed away aged 57 on Tuesday afternoon (21 September) after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving behind his adoptive son Nathen, 20.

Garson was a devoted father, and in his later years he spoke passionately about his decision to adopt as a singe parent in hopes it would encourage others to do the same.

“As a narcissist actor – and I was the definition – I immediately became responsible for taking care of someone else. It is a really, special feeling to say that. It is such an important job and makes you grow in so many different ways,” he explained to Medium in 2020.

The star made the decision to pursue adoption when he was in his mid-40s, having left a long relationship with a woman who did not want children.

“I was so bored with myself,” he said. “When Nathan came into my life I was not bored anymore. I had someone to take care of and focus on. I gave someone a childhood who did not really have a real one.

Willie Garson and his son Nathen Garson at a charity event for LGBT+ homeless youth services in 2015 (Amanda Edwards/Getty)

“Not only did I get to give him a childhood but guess what? I got to get another one too, which is a great thing because my parents were not child-friendly,” he joked.

Garson began exploring the idea after working with an adoption charity in Los Angeles and realising just how many children were in need of a family.

“When I thought about it, I was like, I do not need to bring another one into the world when my genes are nothing special,” he said.

“I am allergic to everything, I am bald and there should not be more of this on the planet! There are about 400,000 kids just in America that are ready for adoption. That is a lot of children who need a family and should have one.”

He first met his son Nathan as a seven-year-old at an adoption fair in 2008, and the connection was instantaneous. “It was an easy decision. The second I saw him I knew he was mine and he would be my son,” he recalled.

After more than a year of screenings and paperwork, Nathen officially became Garson’s son in January 2010, and the pair have been like like “partners” ever since.

When he was in third grade, Nathen raved about his dad to People: “I like to play with Willie on the Wii and give him kisses and hugs. He is the best dad ever.”

Willie Garson and his son Nathen pictured in 2012 (Charley Gallay/Getty)

The actor went on to become a tireless spokesperson for adoption, joining the board of You Gotta Believe, an charitable organisation dedicated to helping find loving parents for older children in foster care.

To celebrate National Adoption Month last year he hosted a virtual discussion with actress Nia Vardalos, who also adopted her daughter from foster care.

He also worked with another group, Second Nurture, to help other prospective parents through adoption, and gave several interviews encouraging others to go through the challenging yet rewarding process.

“Nathen has made me want to branch out and do more,” he said for People‘s Father’s Day special in 2014.

“When I first became a dad to Nathen, everything had such newness to it. But we both wanted this adoption, and we worked things out together because we are partners in this.

“I don’t know what I would have done with a newborn… But I do wish I’d met him sooner, because I enjoy him so much. His sense of humour is a carbon copy of mine. I have to be careful about some things I say, because I will hear it right back at me an hour later. He’s like a sponge.”

The depth of their relationship was clear as Nathen Garson shared a touching tribute to his father after his death.

“I love you so much papa. Rest in peace,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much. 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.”

 

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A post shared by Nathen Garson (@nathen_garson)

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