Life after SEX
After making her name as New York’s quintessential singleton Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker tackles the mother lode of marriage, work and parenthood in her latest big- screen role, writes Michele Manelis
A FILM about about a multi- tasking woman who can ‘‘ do it all’’ – sounds like the perfect role for style icon Sarah Jessica Parker.
In I Don’t Know How She Does It, based on the 2002 best- selling novel by Allison Pearson, Parker plays the main breadwinner in a successful marriage who is trying to balance the needs of her two young children.
The notion of ‘‘ having it all’’ couldn’t be better illustrated than in the real life of the former
Sex And The City star. For all intents and purposes, Parker exemplifies this relatively modern phenomenon.
Together with husband of 15 years Matthew Broderick, Parker is busy raising their children: James Wilke, 9 and twin daughters Tabitha and Loretta, 2, in New York.
Her priorities these days veer towards her daily maternal duties over her highpowered career as an A- list movie star. She is, however, aware of the harsh realities of maturing in a youth- obsessed industry.
At 46, she is confronted by ageism in the court of public opinion.
‘‘ I wish my attitude and the public’s were one and the same,’’ she says.
‘‘ You’re indicted for doing things to yourself and then you’re indicted if you don’t. My opinion is that I should be able to be my age and maintain myself as best I can, and not look like a lunatic.
‘‘ I don’t want to see my picture next to somebody I know who is filled with all sorts of things, which is their choice, to then be told that I look old while she is then crucified for the fillers,’’ she says, animatedly.
In her beloved city of New York, Parker is in an upscale midtown Manhattan hotel. It is late on a Sunday morning and she’s sipping herbal tea.
‘‘ I try to be circumspect and recognise that there’s very little I can actually do about getting older. Time moves on and all the science in the world isn’t going to stop that.
‘‘ Yes, it’s painful to witness time lapse for all of us but I think it’s harder to feel out of breath, or to be tired sooner than you used to be, or to injure your foot in a way that you might never have done 10 years ago,’’ she says, glancing at her impossibly high- heeled Giuseppe Zanotti shoes.
‘‘ Or to have the ball of your feet hurt after you’ve worn heels.
‘‘ Those things are far more complicated to reconcile psychologically, I think, than the exterior stuff.
‘‘ As for work, many actresses have long careers. Hopefully I’ll be one of them.’’
Today she’s wearing a red and white Oscar de la Renta shortsleeved dress and a clunky silver chain around her neck. She smiles, touching her necklace,
‘‘ I bought this in a thrift store. It’s not from a designer and is
‘‘ I wish my attitude and the public’s were the same’’
of no significance, except to me.’’
Being dressed head- to- toe in designer wear, of course, comes at a high cost. Clearly, finances are not an issue for Parker.
In fact, according to Forbes magazine, her earnings from May 2010 to May 2011 reached a reported $ A30 million, alongside Angelina Jolie. Both celebrities were joint recipients of the ‘‘ highest- paid actor’’ title.
What did Parker think when she read those figures?
‘‘ What did I think? I think it’s hilarious. How can that be? I wish those numbers were true. It simply can’t be accurate,’’ she says.
‘‘ I will just say in response to that, that those numbers are terribly off. It’s embarrassing and it creates all sorts of problems,’’ she says, shaking her head. ‘‘ All sorts of problems.’’ Her gaze is friendly but direct: ‘‘ People are ill- informed and they make efforts to be generous and people look askance, ‘ Oh, you have $ 90 million? You should be giving me at least $ 10 million’.’’
‘‘ This isn’t a conversation I feel comfortable having, period, but I realise that it’s the nature of where we are right now.’’
Appreciative of her champagne problems, Parker was born in Nelsonville, Ohio, the fourth of eight siblings.
Growing up in relative poverty, she was raised by her mother, a schoolteacher and her often unemployed stepfather.
Parker helped support the family at a young age and in 1976 won her first Broadway role.
The family packed up and moved to New Jersey to encourage her career and in 1979 she got her first break playing the title role in Annie on Broadway.
Parker’s level of selfdeprecation almost equals her embarrassment of riches. She constantly deflects her own specific challenges in juggling career and home life.
‘‘ I don’t think I do it all that brilliantly. And let me make it clear that I’m certainly not suggesting I have a difficult life.
‘‘ I can afford great help and there are women who do have two and three jobs and who are raising their family in a very admirable way and who don’t have a lot of choices. I have the choice whether to work or not.’’
Parker will next be seen in the ensemble New Year’s Eve, which is due out in Australian cinemas in early December. And, of course, there are always those pesky rumours of another Sex And
The City sequel. Although the second instalment didn’t fare well with critics, it proved to be a commercial success – grossing more than $ A300 million worldwide on a total budget of more than $ A100 million.
How does Parker feel about reprising the role of the iconic and erudite New Yorker, Carrie Bradshaw? She smiles enigmatically. ‘‘ I would love it but there are no immediate plans for another one, although there is some talk among the powers that be that it might happen down the line.
‘‘ At this stage, I’d have to say it’s not going to happen. But I’ve been wrong before.’’