Before the hotly anticipated release of Sex and the City: The Movie, Sarah Jessica Parker sheds the glamorous fashions and romantic disasters of Carrie and Co. for the quiet dysfunction of the indie film and Sundance hit Smart People. In it she plays Janet, an E.R. doctor who enters into a complicated relationship with her former college professor Lawrence (Dennis Quaid). Ever since his wife died, Lawrence has been living as a shell of a man, but his sadness makes him no less appealing to Janet, who similarly has some issues of her own.
“Perhaps I’ve been seduced or hypnotized by Mark [Poirier] the screenwriter but I don’t see it as being that big of a leap that she [is attracted to him],” Parker says. “I think that Lawrence despite his bitterness and disappointment and his genuine lack of people skills, I do think that he’s a very attractive character. He’s really smart and really interesting and I think she knew him at a time where he was certainly more demonstrative and we don’t all have to respond to people because they smile all day and make jokes.”
She adds, “He’s an interesting man and I don’t think those qualities disappear because he’s broken or sad or alone or functioning but basically a recluse. I think it’s nice to think of people as interesting without them having to put on a show all the time and so for me thinking about Janet, I can see it easily. She’s a smart-thinking person and she’s messed up too. I can just see being a young woman and really liking him and finding yourself as a grown-up in a different position with him and thinking, ‘Wow, I still feel the same way about him despite how much I hate him.'”
Could she relate to having a crush on a teacher? “I never really had a crush, but I didn’t really spend that much time in school so I’m not really giving all teachers a fair shot,” she says.
Janet is a character who is very different from anything Parker has played before, and she’s also much different from Parker herself both in personality, and life choices. While Janet chose to continue her education and become a doctor, Parker admits that career path wasn’t in the cards for her. “I didn’t even pursue higher education, but I come from a world of people who are educated and that was definitely a destination point and very highly thought of, pursuing a career in academia, but it just wasn’t for me,” she says.
The film is set in Pittsburgh and it was actually filmed on location in the city, much to the delight of the people there. The curious city dwellers enjoyed having a movie filmed in their town, but crowds never got out of hand. “I think the crowds gather far more quickly in New York,” Parker says. “Maybe it’s just the streets that we shot on didn’t allow for too much buildup. It never was disruptive. People we excited.”
If the people of Pittsburgh welcomed the Smart People production, Parker embraced the city in turn. “It’s like a lot of American cities that are part of big states,” she says. “I lived in Cincinnati as a young girl and it reminded me [of it] a lotâ€”the industry and some of the architecture and there’s great culture there and a university town is always good I think. So I think it’s a great city.”
With her next big screen “city” adventure already garnering major buzz from fans (it’s set for a May 30th release), Parker proves when it comes to acting she always makes smart choices.
And as for whether or not Sex and the City: The Movie will be the final chapter for our favorite fabulous foursome SJP tells us, “I don’t think that’s for us to say. I think we’ll have to wait and see what we’re able to put together and how people respond.”
Translation: ‘If you want there to be a second movie, don’t wait for DVD – be there opening weekend!’ But we knew that already, right?