Q&A

ac­tor & pro­ducer “Mar­riage is not for ev­ery­body – I chose to do it, but it’s not without com­pli­ca­tion”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by MICHELE MANELIS

Sarah Jes­sica Parker opens up about mar­riage, di­vorce and fam­ily.

You’ve been mar­ried to ac­tor Matthew Brod­er­ick for nearly 20 years. What was his re­sponse when you told him you were pro­duc­ing and star­ring in a show called Di­vorce? Ac­tu­ally, he was very, very com­fort­able with it. [Laughs] I was de­vel­op­ing it as one of a few things for HBO, so he had been privy to the process. We had a sub­stan­tive con­ver­sa­tion about what it would mean to our fam­ily, be­cause the two jobs re­quire and de­serve a huge amount of time, en­ergy and com­mit­ment, and I would not do it any other way. He and our son [James, 13; the cou­ple also have twin daugh­ters aged seven] were very sup­port­ive of it. What in­spired the project? I was think­ing about mar­riage. It was based on this idea of a story I knew about real peo­ple who were hav­ing a long-term af­fair and it func­tioned like an al­ter­nate uni­verse. No­body was hurt. It was very lov­ing and they were both mar­ried. In fact, both mar­riages were good and that was very in­ter­est­ing to me. It con­founded me and I thought this sit­u­a­tion was prob­a­bly not unique. So, I wanted to ex­plore the idea of mar­riage in a real way. Your char­ac­ter, Frances, is go­ing through the hor­rors of di­vorce – but in a com­i­cal way. I like that she can be a lit­tle un­friendly, a lit­tle prickly and not par­tic­u­larly buoy­ant. They say di­vorce is as close to death as you can get, but the move­ment to­ward di­vorce can be amus­ing. Friends are amus­ing, and peo­ple’s thoughts and opin­ions can be amus­ing, and be­cause of the choices one makes dur­ing this time – which can be ridicu­lous and ill-ad­vised – you can find the com­edy sur­round­ing it. Frances ques­tions if she is still happy in her mar­riage. Do you think women ask them­selves that enough? I don’t know. Do you? I think it’s a dan­ger­ous ques­tion. Yeah, and I think that’s what makes her more coura­geous than a lot of peo­ple I’ve played. I think a lot of us wouldn’t have the courage to ask our­selves that ques­tion, but for some, it’s nec­es­sary. We see those peo­ple that dis­en­gage or un­tan­gle them­selves or find free­dom. So what makes a happy mar­riage? Some say it’s hav­ing two bath­rooms. [Laughs] I’ve never heard of that! That’s funny. Ac­tu­ally, we share a bath­room. For me, I choose not to talk about my mar­riage. Can good things come from di­vorce? There are mil­lions and mil­lions of an­swers to that ques­tion. Some say it’s been an enor­mous tri­umph for them. [Oth­ers] say it was their un­do­ing and their fam­ily is ir­repara­bly dam­aged by it, their chil­dren very hurt and the col­lat­eral dam­age was more than they could over­come. But I’ve seen peo­ple sur­face and say it was the best thing that ever hap­pened to them and [they’ve] gone on to live the life they’d al­ways wanted.

What is your per­sonal be­lief about the in­sti­tu­tion of mar­riage? Well, I’m mar­ried. [Laughs] Do I believe in it? I’ve been mar­ried for al­most 20 years so, for me, it’s some­thing I want to be part of. But it’s not for ev­ery­body. Peo­ple should make that choice for them­selves. My po­si­tion on mar­riage is that I chose to do it, but it’s not without com­pli­ca­tion. I think that’s the beauty of it. It re­ally asks a lot of you. In the case of Frances, it asks and asks and asks, and she fi­nally says, “I’m not able any­more.” That kind of weari­ness, that sort of in­er­tia, is re­ally hard, I would think, to over­come. Je­maine Cle­ment plays the man Frances has an af­fair with. Were you a fan of Flight of the Con­chords? Yes! Orig­i­nally it was sup­posed to be a much younger guy, but I de­cided it was more in­ter­est­ing to be with an older man. Un­like Car­rie Bradshaw, Frances is pretty mel­low with her wardrobe. Were you mindful not to have any crossovers? Well, it’s not dif­fi­cult. If I’m play­ing a physi­cian who has a $200,000 col­lege debt and is serv­ing a small ru­ral com­mu­nity, I know how she should dress. If I’m play­ing a woman such as Frances, who lives in Hast­ings, up­state New York, has been sup­port­ing her fam­ily for eight years and has a par­tic­u­lar eye be­cause she was an art history ma­jor, I can fig­ure out how she should dress. I have no in­ter­est in putting on a fancy dress for a per­son it doesn’t be­long on. Like Car­rie, you are, though, very much as­so­ci­ated with fash­ion. Well, I’m rather chaste com­pared to Car­rie. I could never have dressed like Car­rie in real life. She had a lib­erty I’ve never felt – an un­abashed lack of mod­esty. But it was a thrill for that very rea­son to play her; the chance to be­have com­pletely dif­fer­ently than how I would typ­i­cally feel com­fort­able in my own life. In Di­vorce, Frances’s hus­band is blind­sided by the di­vorce. Does that con­cept scare you – that you could wake up one day and realise your life is not what you thought? I know you keep try­ing to get me to talk about my own life! But no, it doesn’t, be­cause it’s not where I am. I think it’s all pos­si­ble – the beauty of be­ing a hu­man, re­ally, is that we all have our se­crets. We can’t know ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how deeply con­nected you feel to an­other per­son. Ev­ery­one should have a se­cret. Sure, it’s all a pos­si­bil­ity, but do I lie in bed and worry about it? Ab­so­lutely not. Di­vorce pre­mieres at 8.30pm, Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 11, on Show­case.

``I´m chaste com­pared to car­rie. she had a lib­erty I´ve never felt´´

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