Sarah Jessica Parker Reveals Why She Relates to Carrie and Frances
By Marissa Blanchard
During a talk at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, the actor and executive producer of Divorce discussed her production company, finding joy in playing unfamiliar characters and her iconic role in Sex and the City.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest film, Blue Night, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, but in a talk with reporter Mary Carillo, the actor and producer discussed the journey of her career as a whole. The quintessential New Yorker shared her passion for female driven storytelling, what she looks for in acting roles, and finding relatability in unfamiliar characters.
She doesn’t shy away from the unknown.
Throughout her career, Parker has never shied away from a challenging role. “For actors everything is an exercise — you can only hope to have an experience that’s interesting and hard and turns you inside out a little bit,” she said. “It allows you to be with new characters and tell a new story of someone who’s unfamiliar or you may not admire or like. You can’t always get it right.”
It took time to get to know Frances.
“In the first season of Divorce, what was revealed to me through story was the only opportunity I had to get to know Frances,” explained Parker. “I can’t know more than what’s in the scripts. You are figuring it out in front of everybody, and you have to hope that you have enough experience to hide what’s not known.”
She was never concerned with Frances being likable.
The conversations around Frances’ likability surprised her, particularly because she thinks people’s reasoning would not be applied to a man. “I didn’t worry about whether she was likable enough because I liked her. I thought she had a story to tell that’s not unfamiliar to people,” Parker shared. “A portrait of an American marriage at this point, I hadn’t seen it in cinema or television in a really long time.” She concluded, “Is she likable? I don’t know. I think she’s human, and I’m drawn to that.”
Season 2 of Sex and the City committed to character development.
Parker pointed out that in Season 1, her character Carrie Bradshaw relied on her female friends to fill in the sentences and provide a point of view for her columns — each episode was a column. Season 2 went “deeper” with Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, in part to Michael Patrick King coming on board.
“Everybody had a point of view, but he let everyone become a far more complicated, more human, more layered,” she said. “That allowed those friendships to become much more interesting and necessary and relied upon; more disappointing when there was a betrayal. He always balanced expectation and depth so beautifully.”
She relates to Frances and Carrie in different ways.
An audience member asked Parker, of the characters she’s played, who does she relate to the most? She admitted it could not be boiled down to one character. “Frances is a mother and I can relate to that and how hard that can be, and also how deeply joyful that experience is — even though it’s sometimes seemingly impossible,” she shared.
And while her characters are not exactly like her, they do feel familiar. “Carrie Bradshaw and I share the love for this city,” Parker explained. “Her friendships are really important to her, as are mine. I got to pay more attention to them because I played someone who really took care of those friendships.”
She then praised her long-time friend and Sex and the City co-star, Cynthia Nixon, about her recently announced candidacy for New York Governor. “She shared with me that she was going to announce about a month before,” revealed Parker. “I was incredibly excited for her and so proud. She’s already been good for the conversation.”
Pretty Matches is comprised of all women telling female driven stories.
When moderator Mary Carillo asked Parker about her all-female production company, the audience applauded. “We are keenly interested in women’s points of view in story,” stated Parker.
When forming the production company, Parker said hiring only women was unintentional, but their shared passion for telling women’s stories brought them together. She said, “We really try to look after her and how is her story being told, and try to find stories that haven’t been told that we think should be or that are marginalized or overlooked.”
There’s nostalgia behind the name of her production company.
The inspiration came from her first acting job. “That was basically my only line in The Little Match Girl when I was eight,” shared Parker. “It’s a Hans Christian Andersen story; it’s a heart rending, unthinkably sad story.”
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