Interview By: Bruce Bluett
Sarah Jessica Parker has been an entertainer from a very young age. We’ve watched her go from little orphan Annie on Broadway to the passionate and bed hopping Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. This holiday season we’ll be seeing yet another side of this versatile and seasoned actress. Parker plays the uptight and antisocial Meredith Morton in The Family Stone. When Meredith goes to visit her boyfriends’ family for the first time, chaos ensues as her strict lifestyle clashes with the trouble-loving Stones. While the film is geared for more mature audiences, there is something to be learned for every family in this film. Awkward and realistic moments are followed by tenderness and the opportunity for all the love the holiday season offers. When asked if she had ever experienced the situations depicted in this film, Parker admits that there are more similarities than differences in this case.
“I’ve never been the interloper,” she says. “I come from a large family, but we’ve all had the experience where we showed the same decent behavior to someone that was brought home until they’ve left the room. And then we were like “you don’t plan to spend a lot of time with this person, do you?”. But you can’t force someone not to have feelings for someone else. That’s a great way to drive a wedge into a relationship”.
As charming and touching of a performance she may give, one of the first questions that pops into mind is how different is Meredith from Carrie? Do any Carrie character traits sneak into this film? Fans of Sex in the City are surely excited to see Parker back on the silver screen after four years.
“I think Carrie Bradshaw is like a lot of us who are born with people skills. If you don’t have a lot of those skills we’ve acquired them and learned to navigate situations that are foreign, we are not completely daunted and paralyzed. Carrie Bradshaw was an introspective person. She loved examining people and interpersonal relationships. She loved this idea of human contact and looking and observing. Meredith is the polar opposite. She would like not to be touched, not to be hugged. She wants to keep things very civilized and appearances mean a lot. She’s been very successful in business and applies that same philosophy to people. She’s simply an uncomfortable person, and those people generally don’t fare well. They’re not equipped to improvise. There wasn’t a huge amount of research really, it wasn’t like I had to understand IPO’s in Southern Asia of anything. I just had to understand what it is to be human and operate from a point of terror all the time. I think Tom Bezucha (director/screenwriter) wrote beautiful characters, very defined and very human. My great challenge was to make her a human being and not just an awful archetype. That would be a disservice to this wonderful story”.
Parker will produce and star in her next project, Spinning Into Butter. The film is shooting now and is sure to stir up controversy and questions.
“I can believe we’re getting it made, it’s a tiny budget with 27 shooting days, we’re shooting in New York City. It was adapted from a play by a really great American playwright named Rebecca Gilman who is from Chicago. It was on Broadway at Lincoln Center a few years ago, it was very controversial. It’s basically about race and who we really are. No matter how seemingly evolved and progressive we are, the horrible truth of who we are day to day is humanity. It’s about a racial incident at a liberal arts college on the east coast and I play the dean of students. It’s about someone who has fled from an inner city college in Chicago to the white suburbs of Vermont. It’s a beautiful script. We have a great cast.
With so many things on her plate for so long, on might wonder if Parker has become weary of the entertainment lifestyle. Now a mother and a wife, just how much of her private life can remain private?
“It becomes more and more apparent as the years pass and you’re clinging to tiny pieces of your soul. You realize that you don’t have to tell everything, there is a polite way of wiggling out of it. For me I have learned that everyone has a job to do and people are just responding to editors requests.”
Her warmth and generosity as a person go to show what a great job she’s done with the stiff and moody Meredith Mortonâ€¦and hopefully in many more roles to come. See The Family Stone when it opens on December 16, 2005.