Kim Cattrall Turns Cutthroat Coach

As the seductress on "Sex and the City," Kim Cattrall would do just about anything but cheat and steal. Now, as a figure skating coach in "Ice Princess," she's playing a character with an entirely different set of loose morals.

You won't see a skater conspiring to have a rival bashed in the knees. But "Ice Princess," opening today, offers a glimpse into the cutthroat competition between teenage girls in the quest for sports glory.

Cattrall, 48, stirs up controversy, just as she did on her steamy HBO comedy, but in an entirely different way. In "Ice," her character drives the girls she trains -- especially her own daughter -- with near brutality.

"I always thought it was such a great metaphor for life to see these skaters crash to the ice then get back up and do a triple jump or a camel spin and go on to win," says Cattrall, who grew up in Canada, where she got to know some competitive skaters and hockey players.

"I know the tremendous dedication and sacrifice that goes into it," she says. "You have to start very young. It's a tough road and even for those who make it, it doesn't last very long."

In the film, Michelle Thachtenberg is geeky Casey Carlyle, who is doing a science project on the physics of ice skating when she discovers she's got talent on ice. Her hit-the-books mom, played by Joan Cusack, is not at all pleased when her girl starts hanging out at the rink.

Cattrall takes Casey on her figure skating team, perhaps in part to coax her own talented-but-uninspired daughter, Gen, to buckle down and practice.

"Her daughter is good enough to be a champion, but she doesn't really want to be a skater -- she wants to be a teenager, discovering boys and doing things that take away from her skating practice," Cattrall says of her character.

"Then, she meets Casey, who not only has amazing talent, she has tremendous desire. But Casey's mother wants her daughter to focus on getting into Harvard. So you have these two moms at odds with their daughters and with each other over what they want for their kids -- a really interesting and realistic situation."

Casey's skating career hardly gets off the ground before she becomes victim to the head games and sly tricks that are rife in competitive skating, even among young amateurs like herself. And when her own skills begin to rival those of Cattrall's daughter, she doesn't know who to trust.

All the while, Casey is still a high school girl with a burgeoning crush on a hunky Zamboni driver.

Trachtenberg -- best known as Buffy's mysterious little sister on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- trained for eight months to play the aspiring skater, the biggest role yet for the 19-year-old actress.

"I knew I was going to have to train a lot," she says, "but I had no idea that it was going to be months and months of the most intense work, crazy hour-long ballet classes and hours and hours of being on the ice.

"I was pretty much starting from scratch and trying to accomplish what my character accomplishes in the movie, which seemed pretty much impossible at first. But now I can do all these tricks. And when I watch ice skating I know all the lingo and I can say, 'She didn't get enough height in her axel,' or, 'She flubbed her footwork.' It's pretty cool."