Sarah Jessica Parker is the quintessential total package in a comedic actress, sassy, sharp, gorgeous, and most importantly, silly. Throughout her career, she’s been able to display many of these different talents from TV’s Square Pegs to Footloose to L.A. Story to Honeymoon In Vegas to Hocus Pocus.
In 1998, she scored the ultimate opportunity to put all her eggs of comedic talent into one basket with her Emmy-winning role of columnist/quintessential single girl Carrie Bradshaw on the HBO TV series Sex In The City. In the six years the series aired on HBO, we watched Parker as Carrie go searching for Mr. Right in the big city.
She went from furniture designer Aidan Shaw to novel writer Jack Berger to Russian artist Alexsandr Petrovsky to finally finding true love with John James Preston, known for so long solely as “Mr. Big” until they finally wed in the Sex In The City movie in 2008. Now, Sarah Jessica brings Carrie to life once again and faces the ultimate test as she has a chance encounter with one of her former flames during a girls-only weeklong vacation in Abu Dhabi in Sex In The City 2. The 45 year-old actress first discussed what she feels she brings to the table of the second reunion of what are now TV’s most iconic group of girl friends.
“As I’ve been saying lately, there was a wedding and now there has to be a marriage, and the two are very different,” she believes, “I think where Carrie finds herself at the top of the movie is starting, as she typically does, to ask questions about the environment in which she currently lives.”
“And those questions, and the big theme of the movie for all of us in our own way is tradition and why do we run toward it and why do we push it away and why do we so willingly want to commit to conventions like the institution of marriage?” Parker continues, ” Do we find ourselves squirming and asking questions and how do we redefine tradition for ourselves and how do our friends around us redefine tradition and do they want to? And what better place to ask these questions than in the Middle East?”
Parker shared how she personally relates to Carrie’s current struggle this time out.
“I think that women of a certain generation aren’t even conscious of the fact that we are asking ourselves, we are in the process of redefining our roles all the time, it’s the great gift that our mothers gave us,” Sarah Jessica says, “It’s this opportunity to rethink the roles that we take on in very conventional institutions.”
“Whether it’s in a partnership that’s sort of defined by society or in a work environment, whether it’s the way people see us in our work, the fact that there are so many women in our workplace, which is very different than most conventional sets,” she adds, “So we do it all the time I think and women who are home with children are rethinking it all the time. So it’s kind of a privilege to talk about this topic because it feels so relevant to me without being preachy.”
Sex In The City has continued to make an impact years after its last episode aired on TV and for good reason, too. The show, more so than any in history, has diversified the vocabulary in reflecting how women live their lives through the countless exploits of its four main characters, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Sarah Jessica says it’s because of how uplifting and realistic the show’s portrayal of the women and their friendships with one another that the show continues to make an impact on women all over the world.
“I tend not to ponder too much what we may or may not have done because I like hearing from other people what they think,” she says, “But I will say that in an era that there is this beacon which we seem to be moving toward where women are really unkind to one another and call each other kind of horrible names and there’s a vernacular that our ears have adapted to which I find really objectionable. I really, really love how these women love each other, and I love how decent and honorable they are toward one another, I love how much they respect one another, I love that they were never made to be friends.”
“Their DNA is so radically different from one to the next and they have found this incomparable friendship that is really, truly inspiring to me and it changes the way I think about my friendships constantly,” Parker adds, “It changes the way I look at friendships, the way I respond to friends’ choices, and that is in large part the writing. Well it’s not, even in large part, it is the writing. For me when I look at a lot of what’s available on television and I see how women treat each other it’s stunning to me, it’s arresting, and I like that there is some place that we still like to illustrate that women would much rather be allies than adversaries.
Sex In The City has become and remains famous for being not only being watched with a near-religious form of devotion from women, but gay men as well. Parker comments on how the appeal of the show has crossed genders and sexuality full circle.
“I think it’s hard to deny that there is this wonderful search, this endeavor for love, that there is a emotional ingredient that, when I talk to people in the gay community, that the clothing is fun, it’s the cherry on the sundae, it’s the soufflÃ©,” Sarah Parker says, “But I really think it’s this ability to articulate emotion, embarrassing and candid and intimate, and the humorous way of observing our emotional journeys that a lot of my gay friends really, really love, and I think that they are very comfortable saying that.”
“And it’s taken maybe the straight community, the men, a little bit longer,” she continues, “They used to like at the luggage carrousel go, ‘I watch your show,’ or they’ll say ‘My wife/my girlfriend forced me.’ Now they seem to volunteer more freely that occasionally they even watch it on their own; the remote got stuck or whatever. I don’t know. That’s been my experience.”
To create the gorgeous, exotic Abu Dhabi setting for Sex In The City 2, the film was shot in the locale of Morocco. Sarah Jessica recalls the experience of filming there.
“I’m worried that it’s not sounding like the extraordinary experience it was,” she says, “It was laborious and it was herculean but it was one of the great experiences of my professional life to live and work with this cast and that crew every single day, to see the sun rise and set over our locations in the most far-flung places, to lie in a bed all day with these women exhausted and laughing, to be on a camel with Kim Cattrall as it disobeyed all orders.”
“But I’m telling you, it was indescribably wonderful to be so far away in such a wonderfully foreign place to have this incredibly cinematic experience,” Sarah Jessica continues, “To be in the dunes of the Sahara for days and see things that we will never see again, to smell things, to eat things. Yes it was hard, but we could not have done it anywhere else this way. We didn’t even have a bathroom. There were literally no interruptions.”
No interruptions, however, until one of Sarah Jessica’s co-stars got sick.
“Kristin Davis got sick and she got sick on a Friday so that she could get sick only on the weekend and not interrupt shooting,” Parker says, “But apparently if you’re very sick and having serious intestinal issues it’s just warm milk. She had a strange cough.”
Parker also shared what she felt was her best memory of Morocco.
“I would say that the thing that I cherish most about it, and therefore is the most vivid memory, is that I got to live with this cast,” she says, “We were removed, we weren’t shooting out of country the first time, we’ve never done that. We had this chance to live together and to know one another in a way we’ve never had the opportunity to do so in New York. In New York we go home to our friends and our family and our children and our animals, and for me it just changed everything.”
“I just came away loving them more than I ever have because I got to see them in a new way,” Sarah Jessica adds, “And I was so reliant upon them and they became evermore necessary, and I was so challenged by the work that they were doing and how good they were and what thoroughbreds they were, and how nothing could get us down, no matter how hungry we were or how much we had to go to the bathroom or hour 18 of day 58. And the crew, looking around the crew and knowing the people that we had brought, how we could see in their eyes that this was the day they were missing their kids but they were sticking it out with us. That was kind of the tone and it was just incredibly impressive and inspiring, and frankly felt very buoyant on tough days.
Sarah Jessica also commented to an observation made by Kristin Davis that Morocco does not celebrate Thanksgiving after she said her favorite memory from shooting was celebrating the holiday together.
“Apparently neither does Warner Brothers,” Parker remarks.
Finally, Parker revealed what she believes potential straight male viewers should take away from Sex In The City 2.
“It’s wonderful, the couple of people I’ve spoken to, they’re straight men, they might think that this whole franchise is anathema, but they have loved that there is not a villainous move by any man in this movie,” Sarah Jessica believes, “Any consequences are on the part of us and the choices we’re making and momentary reckless behavior or cavalier attitude about cultural standards, it’s all us. And we come home frankly a little wiser.”