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