Divorce and the City
No more Manolos. US actress Sarah Jessica Parker tackles marriage and motherhood in new TV series
If you are expecting New York City fashionista Carrie Bradshaw when Sarah Jessica Parker returns to a TV series after a long hiatus, think again.
HBO's new comedy Divorce comes to the small screen 12 years after Sex And The City ended its run in 2004.
The 51-year-old US actress is Frances, a frumpy suburban woman (wearing secondhand clothes!) with two teenage kids struggling with an unravelling marriage to Thomas Haden Church's character, and realising that the process can be simultaneously painful and funny.
It premieres on HBO (StarHub Ch 601) on Oct 10 at 10am and 10pm.
At the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles for our interview, the ever friendly and cheerful Parker, a fashion icon in her own right and a mother of three, shows up in a very Carrie-like outfit - a black and white dress fitted at the bodice with frothy layers making up the skirt. Her blue high heels are from her own SJP Collection.
What made you decide to return to TV with Divorce?
I had been working on this show for about four years as a producer, with not myself in mind at all. At a certain point, it became clear to me that HBO thought I was participating on-screen as well, and I was kind of confounded by that. I considered it in a serious way because I understood what that kind of commitment means.
So after speaking to my family and explaining to them that I would be absent for a while, I got their blessings and it was something that I was ready to do again.
Was it hard getting back after such a long break?
I worked in television for so long, and I love the pace and the urgency and the constraints actually, and I like the liberties, and I like the long life that it allows for the development of a character. So I think it was just like a muscle that I had allowed to rest. Once you are back on a set, it's really just getting the machine oiled and up and running.
You will be married to US actor Matthew Broderick for 20 years next year. How do you make it work?
You have heard this same answer for years: We don't talk about it. Period. (Laughs) It's like a real marriage, like it's a private thing. And I think we don't treat it as a job or anecdotal, and the more I talk about what makes it work will only be fodder for people to tell us what doesn't work about it.
So how do you relate to your character?
In fact, what is more interesting is to not relate to somebody at all that you are playing. Certainly I can understand how hard it is to parent together and to be philosophically aligned. And how routine lives become and how perfunctory relationships can be.
But what I really like about playing Frances is the way she responds and behaves - and sometimes what might be considered chilly or even withholding in some way - is so different from me. And I like how kind of quietly cruel, in a way, she is and I like her honesty and her candour that in many ways I don't know I could be.
MARRIAGE WOES: Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church in a scene from Divorce. PHOTO: HBO
Your wardrobe on Divorce is also very different from Carrie Bradshaw's.
She is not somebody who thinks a lot about her clothes, and she is not in the position and she doesn't have the luxury. Every piece I wear is used, all the shoes are used except for two pairs. I am thrilled with the wardrobe.
And yes, it does make you feel like the part. I love fittings for that reason. The last thing that the prop man will hand you, whether you are carrying a briefcase to work or a specific pen, it's that feeling of like, now I am complete.
How much of your time goes into your shoe line?
I devote everything that is required. You just find the time. You sort it out and you squeeze it in and you are up late and you are up early.
It's a teeny company and there are only four of us and we do every single thing ourselves. We look at every single sample that comes in from Italy and I meet every single sales appointment and I go work the sales floor, the shoe floor at my retail partners. It's incumbent on me to be 100 per cent involved in anything I do. And if I can't do it that way, then I cannot be party to it. My children are at school all day now and I can't speak for men, but I find that women can get a lot done. (Laughs)