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

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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.’’

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