Sex And The City: The Movie - Sarah Jessica Parker interview
Compiled by Jack Foley
SARAH Jessica Parker talks about returning to the iconic role of Carrie Bradshaw for Sex And The City: The Movie and why she was looking forward to the challenge.
She also talks about coping with strangers revealing intimate details about themselves to her at the height of the show’s popularity,
Q. Kirstin Davis was saying that as a result of playing Carrie people regard you as some kind of sex therapist basically, and people approach you on the street and say: “Well, this is what happened to me…” Is that true?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Well, I wish that were true.
Q. It’s not?
Sarah Jessica Parker: No, not really. Not anymore. I mean, when the show first aired people would be not unkindly confrontational, but they would be very frank and candid and just tell me very personal and intimate details of their lives. Really men and women, honestly. But people weaned themselves of that need and more so now they’re just approaching it in a general, convivial way.
Q. How did you react when a complete stranger pours his or her heart out?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Gosh, it was like 10 years ago. I think for me, because it’s not my nature to be that way – of all the women, I’m the least candid and forthright about that kind of thing – that conversation to me is not anecdotal to me. So it’s very surprising, but I understood why. I think that is the nature of television; it creates an intimacy very quickly for people. It’s in their homes and I think they establish relationships and I knew that this show was connecting with an audience – even then I understood that this was the first time there was that voice. And that women were responding to it.
So, I understood the point of reference for them, but it was odd because I’m not good counsel. I mean I try and keep my own counsel, but I wouldn’t ever… whether it’s tips on motherhood or being a wife or a parent or a daughter, or a therapist of any kind it’d be, I don’t know, just fraudulent. I have no answers! But I was always kind of touched that they identified that way. I was always touched by it, but it’s stunning when you hear a stranger’s intimate, really graphic stories and it could be very graphic.
Q. So how was it for you to get back into this role?
Sarah Jessica Parker: It was amazing. I started working on putting this movie back together in the spring of 2006, so by the time we started shooting on September 19, 2007 it was so unreal to me that we had managed to get all the parts and pieces together. And myself and Michael Patrick [King, writer and director] especially had worked endlessly for the last year prior to shooting, so to get there, the role really got short shrift for a minute because everything else was so complicated and to produce this movie was a massive undertaking and all of a sudden there we were on September 19 and it was a dream, honestly. Michael Patrick did a beautiful job. He wrote a wonderful story and he really gave me the part of a lifetime, so it was a thrill honestly.
Q. How did you move it on because the series was very much of its time? It sort of hit the zeitgeist, and you’ve got a three-year or four year gap now. How do you make it cinematic, and how do you keep it pertinent?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Well, I think Michael Patrick would be far more equipped to answer the question because it’s really his storytelling skills that really address that very question. First of all, he started it four years later. It doesn’t pick up right when the series left, which makes everything, well, just in terms of Carrie’s life specifically, much more is at stake. There’s a lot more time invested in her relationship with Big [Chris Noth], and obviously her friendships, her career and what she thinks is the destination point in her life. And I think he really addressed that time with all the characters so that everything has more value, you know, as you get older and people become more important in your lives.
The necessities of your life become much more clear, and the frivolity and the whims; they’re marginalized because you’re grown up. And so I think that’s what’s relative about it. It’s less so about what is a hot club. Zeitgeist is peripheral, because you can’t kind of, you can’t write with that intention. You can’t hope to be that result-oriented. You kind of just have to just write a great story, hopefully. And I think that’s what he did, and it’s up to us now to have screwed it up or not, but I think he did a beautiful job.
Q. But will it retain that eyebrow-raising shock value that it had?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I think, that’s not for us to say. I think that’s for you guys and the public and whoever’s spending their hard-earned money to say what is shocking to them. I think the expectations are very clear to us, but you can’t write for expectations. That’s a no-win situation. It would be like trying to start your article with, you know: “This is what’s going to happen in this interview, and how a person is going to respond.” You just kind of have to let a story happen. Because if you write hoping to please the audience exactly and give them everything they need, and live up. I think that’s an impossible scenario.
Q. Did you ever fear that Carrie was perceived by the audience as a fashionista, as a superficial character?
Sarah Jessica Parker: No, I don’t have that fear. I think sometimes I wonder if people confuse me [with her], and that that is the most important part of my life, you know? But these are the things that come along with having played that character. So, I think there’s obviously a lot of sustenance to Carrie Bradshaw and I realize that a great part of her loves fashion and has a great relationship with clothes, but it’s not really the sum of who she is. If that had been the case, I don’t think that novelty could keep a show on the air for that long. I think it has to be more of an emotional investment.
Q. How has it been for you to play a role model for single women all over the world when you’ve been married the whole time yourself?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I don’t know if it’s that or that it’s the relationship between the women that has been such an important thing for single women. I think those kinds of relationships have been very meaningful for a lot of women. And I’m thrilled that people have responded that way and they have that connection and that they have enough interest to want to go and see a movie.
Q. As you said, it’s a story very much about friendship. Do you have strong friendships in your life?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Yeah, I do. Most of my friends have been my friends for 15, 20 years, some of them 30 years. I come from a very big family and I’m one of eight children and so a lot of my siblings are my friends and, of course, I’ve known them a very long time, and we still like each other very much. It’s hard to illustrate with one story what a friendship, or what one friend has done for me. But my friends are everything to me and I hope that I’m the kind of friend to them that they are to me.
Q. The show represented a feminist revolution to many…
Sarah Jessica Parker: And we’re just the lucky recipients of the words. Honestly. There comes a point in time when you have to recognize the source. We just got to play the parts. I mean, we just got lucky, honestly. Because it could have been anybody. But it’s also very hard to be somebody who talks about our legacy because it just seems really unattractive. For us to say – well, I should speak for myself – it would be not my nature for me to say: “Yes, we were responsible, we were part of this revolution.” Or: “What is the legacy of the show?” It sounds really, uh… I don’t think it’s for us to say.
Q. The show had a large gay following. Were you aware of that early on?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I don’t think I recognized until I was told. To me, because I’m from a metropolitan city and I grew up in the world of theater, I always think that the gay community is part of culture. To me, it’s a natural progression of creating art or culture and entertainment, and obviously it’s a show about women in a city that has a large gay community, so yeah, it’s a natural. But I will say it became clear to us early on that they were a committed audience early. Certainly before straight white men. Definitely. Michael Patrick [King, writer and director] was the head writer and Darren [Star, producer] was there for the first season, and then he went off and did other things. But I think it became sort of this idea about it being run by gay men, but really it wasn’t. It was very out of balance actually, female to male. Michael Patrick was the only man on the writing staff, and everybody else was a straight woman. Mostly single.
Q. As producer are you thinking that you are going to have a series of movies?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Of Sex and the City?
Q. Yeah, or are you thinking, well, this is going to be it?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I think it would be putting the cart before the horse to talk about another. I mean, I’ve produced movies and this isn’t the first, and hopefully it won’t be the last. This is the biggest thing I’ve been a part of producing, just in terms of the effort and what’s at stake, but I don’t know about another Sex and the City movie. But I definitely loved producing it.
Q. How aware were you that people saw you as a fashion icon, and what was your fashion sensibility before?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Well, I met Patricia Field [costume designer] on another movie, Miami Rhapsody, that David Frankel wrote and directed, and he really gets the credit because he brought Pat on because they’re both Florida kids. So he brought on Pat. And after I worked with Pat I knew how great she is. For the pilot [of Sex And The City] I didn’t get to bring Pat on to, and if you watch the pilot there’s a vast difference in the role that fashion plays, and so we really wooed Pat. And I always say that I think Pat’s work on the show was as important as the storytelling in many ways because fashion was part of the story as you’ve said, but also because I think she’s very good at telling a story with the fashion. She really thinks about it, she has a really great sense of fashion historically…
Q. So did you learn anything from her?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I learned a lot from her.
Q. For instance?
Sarah Jessica Parker: No rules. All rules should be thrown out the window. I mean, by doing that you take great risks and people make fun of certain things, and the hits are enormous and the misses are comical.
Q. Did you ever say “no” to her?
Sarah Jessica Parker: She’ll tell you the same thing, I’ve never said “no” to Pat. Because here’s the thing: If I was dressing for myself I will always try something on, but I would say no. But for Pat I would rarely say no, but I would always try it on. Pat will tell you, I will stay in a fitting for 10, 11, 13 hours. I will try on everything on the rack, because I think she has a point of view. And even if something looks absurd to me, nothing is funnier than an absurd outfit at 3 or 4 in the morning after a 14-hour day on the set. Nothing is better than a fitting with Pat. So, I’ve learned an enormous amount from her.
And really this idea that I’m some kind of fashion icon is, in large part, due to Pat. You have to look and say: “This birth of this idea had a lot to do with my collaboration with Pat.” So I’ve learned. She’s a remarkable person. And don’t be fooled by the red hair, she’s no Hostess Twinkie. She’s a really smart woman. And we begged her to do the movie. She was booked a million different ways and we really had to woo her. We had to court her for months.
Q. So personally do you have such a shoe fetish as Carrie does? And how many pairs of shows do you own?
Sarah Jessica Parker: ]Laughs] I don’t. I don’t! I’m sorry. Here’s the thing: It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s just that it doesn’t fit into my life in the same way. I think about shopping, I love shopping, on the rare occasion I get to do it it’s really a treat. I don’t get the same kind of euphoric high. I mean, I tend to feel guilty afterwards and then return stuff. But I like it, because it’s a little bit of a respite. But, I find that I have a child, and so any free time I have, if I’d spent that running all the way uptown to a clothing store, I’d just feel crappy about it. It just doesn’t fit into my life in the same way. It doesn’t mean that I have any less affection; I just don’t have that kind of disposable time. It doesn’t mean that I also don’t look through fashion magazines and dog-ear a page and think: “I’ve got to get that shoe or that bag.” I like it and I think about it, but it’s kind of a flight of fancy.
Q. What can you tell us about Carrie’s journey in the movie?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The movie is so packed. There’s so much that happens; you can’t believe what happens in the movie. Something major happens that changes who she is – that fundamentally changes who she is. She’s a new person in a lot of ways in this movie, because she finds herself at the crucible for the first time. And everything is different.
Q. How difficult is it to be a working mother?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Well, my son comes first. If he’s not content and well taken care of, then everything else kind of just doesn’t have the same meaning. Everything works if he’s all right, and if he’s not or if I’m feeling or worried that he’s not getting the kind of attention that he needs, then everything else doesn’t get the same balance. But this is the nature of being a mother, if you want to be a working mother, you are constantly in a state, you’re straddling this world of guilt. It’s just the nature of being a working mother. But the truth is that’s my fault, because I like to be a working person and I like to think that makes me a better parent.
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