Sarah Jessica Parker The Interview
From Sex And the City to Failure to Launch
by Tim Nasson, Wild About Movies publisher
February 22, 2006
New York City – It’s a crisp New York morning. In fact, it’s the morning that the record breaking blizzard begins to sweep up the east coast and ultimately dumps over two feet of snow in Central Park - a stone’s throw from where Sarah Jessica Parker and I sit to chat about, well, her – and her family, (husband Matthew – Broderick – and three year old son, James), and spectacular career. I mean, what other actress can go from being the nerdy, naïf teen on the sitcom "Square Pegs" in the early 1980s to the sensual, sensational Carrie Bradshaw, a cultural icon of the 2000s, in "Sex & The City?"
Marching into a suite at The Essex House, overlooking Central Park South, Parker, petite and sexy, yet at the same time impervious, greets me with a firm handshake and sits down. She’s wearing a form-fitting black dress, which stops about eight inches above the knees, heels, which add about three inches to her five foot, two inch frame, and is wearing a strand of shells around her neck. "It’s just something vintage. It is so not Carrie," she laughs.
No threat from Old Man Winter can keep Parker away from her scheduled interviews that day. "If the snow had kept my driver from getting around, I would have just hitched up a horse in Central Park to a sleigh to get me around town," she laughs.
"Sex & the City" closed up shop in 2004 after seven smash seasons, yet Parker hasn’t slowed a bit. However, Parker claims to be done with television.
"I will never do a television show again," she exclaims. "I never wanted to do ‘Sex & the City,’ to begin with," she reveals. "It just happened. I was familiar with Candace’s [Bushnell] novel ["Sex & the City"] but hadn’t read it when Darren Starr ["Sex & the City" the TV show creator] came to me with the script for the television version of ‘Sex & the City’ and told me he had written it with me in mind. I was flattered but didn’t want to do it. He convinced me, begged me to do it, and I signed a contract. We shot the pilot and I thought, ‘Oh, God,’ this is the end of my career, after I saw it. I didn’t like it and had this really bad feeling in my stomach. I didn’t think it worked and told him that I would do anything, even three free movies for HBO, to get out of the contract.
"He wouldn’t let me out of the contract but did sit with me and was very kind. He asked me what exactly it was that I didn’t like about the pilot and the show. We talked and I told him what I liked and what I hated – the look, the clothes, a lot - and he took all of those suggestions to heart and made some big changes before we shot season one. I was a lot happier but, still, didn’t want to be committed to a television series.
"Thankfully, the show was shot in NYC so I was able to live at home. But, the funny thing, after the first episode of season one, I never looked back and the rest is history. I never thought, though, that the show would become what it has become."
And what it has become is one of television’s most successful shows of all time. In syndication – it is on about six times each day, between airings on The WB and basic cable – it regularly wins its time slots.
With "Sex & the City" over, Parker has been keeping busy – tending to her son, James, enjoying the married life – "I’ve been with Matthew fourteen fabulous years," she says of her relationship with the Tony Award winning "Ferris Bueller," Matthew Broderick – and making movies, again!
Between "Square Pegs" and "Sex & the City," Parker popped up on the big screen numerous times with a number of hits and a few misses. The hits include some great two great 1984 films - "Footloose," and "Firstborn" – but Parker’s favorite of that year, and all of the 80s is, "The Almost Royal Family."
"’The Almost Royal Family’ was an after-school special, but I had so much fun making it. I think it was one of the most fun experiences I had making a movie," Parker recalls fondly.
Throughout the 90s and before "Sex & the City," Parker continued, with a string of box office successes; "L.A. Story," "The First Wives Club," "Ed Wood," "Miami Rhapsody," "Honeymoon In Vegas" and "Mars Attacks" - with a couple of doozies thrown in for good measure; "Hocus Pocus," and "Dudley Do Right."
"Everyone makes a mistake or two in their career," laughs Parker, talking about the movies she wishes she hadn’t signed for on the dotted line.
Currently, Parker has two movies on the burner. "The Family Stone," for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Golden Globe and the upcoming "Failure To Launch," (in theaters March 10), where she plays a character hired to get a thirty-something Matthew McConaughey out of the house he still lives in – GASP! – with his parents (Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw).
I ask what she would do if her son, James, ended up still at home in his thirties, to which she replies, after a brief pause, reflecting for a moment. "I would hope that Matthew and I would have raised James well enough, with values and a sense of self, that he would want to leave home and experience life on his own, make a life of his own. Whether he goes to college, which Matthew isn’t too insistent on, I have stronger feelings about him attending college, or gets a job, I am sure he will be able to be fully functional on his own. I cannot imagine a scenario like that in ‘Failure to Launch’ where he would need to be coaxed out of the home."
In addition to the upcoming "Failure to Launch," Parker just finished an independent film, due out later this year, and is slated to star in a musical for the gay director, Adam Shankman.
"It’s tentatively called ‘Slammer’ and I play a publicist wrongfully incarcerated at Sing-Sing, who stages an all-inmate musical." Hmmm… Didn’t we see a variation of that story, with her husband and Nathan Lane, at the end of "The Producers?"
While not working on movie projects, Parker models clothes for Gap, (and for which she was paid a few million pretty pennies), and touts her own fragrance, "Lovely."
"The funniest thing happened to me the other day. I walked into a room to do an interview and the person said, ‘You smell so lovely.’ I couldn’t help laughing, because I happened to have on the ‘Lovely’ perfume."
The biggest misconception that many, especially devotees of "Sex & the City," may have is that Sarah Jessica Parker is Carrie Bradshaw.
"It’s nice to think that people think that I can always look that fabulous," laughs Parker. "But my and Matthew’s lives at the moment are all about James. You try getting a three-year-old ready for preschool or the doctor’s or a play date and out the door in nine inches of snow at 8:40 a.m. in heels, pearls and a mink coat. I laugh to myself when I see tabloid photographers outside my house taking pictures of me in sweats and no makeup, pushing a stroller down the sidewalk – thinking they have a ‘scoop.’ If they want me to look like Carrie 24/7, 365 days a year, I would love for them to come into my house and help me get James ready for preschool every morning and shovel the snow for me so I can wear my heels, tight dresses and have time to put on my makeup. I mean, I love to dress up, but only when the occasion presents itself."
With the Oscar season in full swing, I asked Parker what her favorites of the year past were. "Oh. I don’t know," she says. "It’s hard for me to pick favorites, but I will tell you this. Oh, it’s so sweet. I was sitting in the living room one afternoon and James walked over with the ‘Brokeback Mountain’ DVD in his hand and wanted to watch it. He had seen commercials for it on television and liked the sheep and scenery – and had been begging to watch the movie for a month. (Parker and Broderick are both members of the Academy and receive Oscar screeners each year.) Matthew and I had debated on whether or not to let him watch the movie and had decided we would let him watch certain scenes. He likes binoculars and there is a scene with binoculars in the movie. And he loves animals. So we put it on and selected about twenty minutes worth of the movie for him to watch. When it was over he went over to the nanny and gave her a big hug. I asked him why he was hugging her and James said, so innocently and sweetly, ‘Because. That is what the two cowboys were always doing in the movie. They loved each other."
Failure to Launch is in theaters March 10th