Sarah Jessica Parker Gets Candid About Carrie
By Marissa Blanchard
Twenty years after the groundbreaking series premiere, the actor and executive producer reveals the biggest misconception about Carrie, and which iconic accessory she kept from set.
HBO: How do you think Sex and the City changed the way women were portrayed on television?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Carrie was writing about sexual politics and relationships, and men and women’s roles socially, so the conversations were often about intimacy and the role it plays in these women’s lives. That’s what was so new — it involved language that made it new for women to be having these conversations. What was equally as important as the sex, is the way they were sharing and revealing truths of their lives.
HBO: What’s the most common misconception about Carrie?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The biggest misconception about Carrie is that she was somebody who was only interested in pursuing a sex life, when really she was interested in the conversations about sex and relationships, and her own and towards love and home. Carrie didn’t really sleep around and she definitely wasn’t casual about sex.
HBO: What about her do audiences find so relatable?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The most relatable part about her is her friendships and how real and important those were to her. Her friendships are complicated and she often failed like we all do — you fail at love, you fail your friends and yourself. We were never afraid of those flaws in Carrie and they were illustrated often and accurately. Sometimes people judged her harshly for that, but I was always happy to tell those stories because that’s what made her human and what made people connect with her.
HBO: What do you remember about the first day of shooting?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The first day we shot at Bleecker and Sixth Avenue. I walked to and from work. I had never done a television show in New York before that, and I was a bit worried about getting back into television. I loved the pilot, and that first day on set was so much fun — I never looked back. I love this city and I’m always happy to discover a new street, whether I’m shooting or not — so often I walk down a street and have a memory of shooting there.
HBO: And the last day?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The last day, we shot on Perry Street in front of Carrie’s apartment. It was freezing cold and the last words I ever uttered was during a fight with Big and I said: “You can drive down this street all you want because I don’t live here anymore.” It was amazing to me it was the last line I said on the last day.
My husband surprised me with all my friends even though we were filming until two in the morning. I was just so happy and sad and filled with so many emotions — it was so fitting and beautifully planned.
HBO: When did you learn Big’s real name?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The writers knew it before me because I couldn’t bring myself to read that last page until I was driving to set. Michael Patrick [King] always gave me the scripts early, but I said I didn’t want to know — I didn’t even want to read the last script. I was never going to have the chance to read a script for the first time again. I read it as late as I could, and I told Michael Patrick that I wasn’t going to read the last page because I didn’t want to see his name.
HBO: Did you keep any costumes or props from the set?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I definitely still have the Carrie necklace — that is very important to me. I have all the wardrobe that wasn’t borrowed from a designer in archive. There would be nobody better suited or be able to do what Patricia Field did. She’s such a brilliant storyteller and a huge part of the show. She was so smart about budgets and using thrift stores and creating real characters with her designs.
HBO: What do you think about the show’s timelessness?
Sarah Jessica Parker: The connection the show has made with the audience continues and grows. Anybody who’s spent a lot of time doing something in their work life and personal life wants to make a connection. You create a story because you hope to offer it to people and it will connect — that’s the most meaningful part to me.
I live in the city so I’m out on the streets all the time, and people stop me daily. Fans share with me stories of their relationship to the show and the characters. I meet people all the time who moved to New York because of the show. It’s deeply surprising to experience a new generation of viewers. I’m so grateful I didn’t waste that experience.
Celebrate 20 Years of Sex and the City
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Executive producer Michael Patrick King celebrates the seminal series’ 20th anniversary by looking back at its humble beginnings — and evolution into an international phenomenon.
To fully appreciate the groundbreaking series and its female-driven stories, these episodes need to be watched in their original form.