Sarah Jessica Parker
(1965 - )
It was former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud
Barak who tipped off Sarah Jessica Parker about the pop culture
phenomenon Sex and the City had become.
"I knew we had touched a nerve with the show
a few years ago when [Barak] said he'd have more time to watch Sex
and the City if he lost his re-election," Parker recently recalled.
The five-foot-four package of dynamite, who made her
first TV appearance at age 8 and has never slowed down, has no intention
of changing gears now as she says farewell to her hit cable TV show
and embraces movies, marriage, Manhattan and motherhood.
The show transformed 39-year-old Parker from an A-list
actress to a fashion icon by casting her as sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw,
a native New Yorker, loyal chum and the girl loyal viewers most wanted
to befriend. For those who thought that leaving the show after six years
was an easy decision, Sarah Jessica (also known as SJ) is ready to set
the record straight.
"It was a complicated decision and we didn't come
to it easily or quickly. We were not cavalier. It's a sad ending if
you stay too long. I don't think you want to be the last one to leave
Sarah Jessica Parker was born on March 25, 1965, in
Nelsonville, Ohio, to a working-class family. Her parents divorced when
she was young and her mom, Barbra, who is Jewish, remarried a man named
Paul Forste. Parker, her two brothers and sister, joined her stepfather's
four children for a real-life Brady bunch, with eight children. She
appeared in her first television special, The Little Match Girl, at
age 8. Her role in the Broadway production of The Innocents prompted
her family to relocate to New Jersey when she was about 9 years old.
She was then cast in The Sound of Music (along with four of her siblings)
and landed the lead in Annie on Broadway.
After her stint as the free-spirited orphan and some
made-for-TV movies, Parker took on one of the lead roles in the 1982
sitcom Square Pegs, as geeky high-school girl Patty Green. Since Square
Pegs didn't last more than a year, Parker landed her next big role as
Steve Martin's bubbly lover in the 1991 comedy L.A. Story. Several
other substantial film roles followed, including Honeymoon in Vegas, Hocus Pocus, Striking Distance, The Sunshine Boys, Miami Rhapsody and The First Wives Club, opposite heavy
hitters Bette Midler, Goldie
Hawn and Diane Keaton.
Next it was on to off-Broadway for Sylvia, and her
Broadway roles in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (starring her future husband, Matthew Broderick), and the Tony-Award-nominated Once Upon a Mattress.
But Parker's star has shot up since her portrayal of
Manhattan sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City,
for which she was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in 2000,
2001 and 2002, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2001. Parker
has also been honored with four Emmy nominations. The show has also
won five Emmys and eight Golden Globes. All these accolades only underscore
the fact that she played the role of Carrie as though it were literally
written for her.
Parker recently came to chat to Lifestyles about
the ending of her treasured series. At times she was a giggly schoolgirl;
at others she was quite emotional. She seemed a bit nervous and kept
rubbing her hands. But as you would want-and hope-from Carrie, she thought
seriously about each question before responding.
Newspaper sex columnist Carrie (based on real-life
writer Candace Bushnell) was footloose, fancy free and prone to an active
sex life, despite the "no nudity" clause in her HBO contract.
"I love the person that Carrie has become; it's so different from
my own life. I never partied. I dated very few men. I didn't go to clubs.
I don't have frank, open discussions about sexual things with my friends.
But it has been great fun and challenging, weird and thrilling all at
the same time."
She dated such hunks as John F. Kennedy Jr. and Robert
Downey Jr., but on May 19, 1997, she married the film and Broadway actor
with the boy-next-door charm, Matthew Broderick. Broderick, like Parker,
has a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. The couple married in a
civil (not religious) ceremony in a historic synagogue that is no longer
used as a house of worship. Their friends, many of whom are Broadway
actors, joined them in a sing-along amidst the warm and loving vibe
of the family day.
They share a brownstone in Greenwich Village and are
the proud parents of a young son, James Wilkie (named James in the Jewish
tradition after Broderick's actor father James Broderick and Wilkie
after her favorite 19th century British writer Wilkie Collins).
Despite her heavy work schedule (often 80 hours a week
between acting, costume fittings and executive producing duties), Parker
admits that motherhood instantly transformed her life. "Having
a child changed me," she says. "Before him I would have sacrificed
myself completely for my work. But after he was born I didn't want to
miss anything. Not bath time. Not bedtime. Goodnight Moon is one of
our favorite books and when I get to a page he knows, James Wilkie will
finish the line for me."
She says she is looking forward to having time to chill.
"Now that the show is over I want to be spending more time with
my husband, friends and my little boy. I miss being able to take my
son to the playground and watching all those important moments in his
life. There's something so great about walking around New York, taking
my son to the park."
With Broderick reuniting with Nathan Lane on Broadway
in The Producers and busy with movie roles, Parker says they try to
stagger work assignments. "But when an opportunity comes along
that's very compelling, it's awfully hard to say no just because that's
the idea you have in your mind."
She is not only a doting mother, she says she loves
being married to Broderick. "What's so decent about Matthew is
that he is a man first. My husband is delighted by the good things that
have happened to me, just as I have been for him. But for us it's not
all about the work."
Broderick recently said that the best thing about being
a new dad is "It's all pluses. Even losing sleep. It's so sweet
to hold him and have him fall asleep in your arms." And how does
Parker respond to hearing this? "What can I say; that is so lovely,"
she comments. "I love the two men in my life."
Now a fashion icon, whose glamorous photo frequently
adorns the covers of Vogue, In Style and Harper's Bazaar, Parker credits
some of her love for fashion to Sex and the City's costume designer,
Patricia Field. Field's penchant for creating fresh looks, new classics,
funky expressions and making decade-old designs seem fresh and new,
found its way into the living rooms of the everyday American life.
She is known for her passion for shoes and took designer
Manolo Blahnik to new career heights with her devotion to his expensive
designer stilettos. In fact, it is rumored that she had a bit of influence
on her son James' first words? "Yep. One of his first words was
shoe," she giggled. "And I have to say he says it beautifully."
Patricia Field says she mixed in elements so that Parker's
character, Carrie, can relate to as many types of people as possible.
"Sarah is an unintentional supermodel. She's also a woman, like
a lot of women out there, who has attained her own good looks and style.
She could be wearing nothing but whipped cream and she would look fabulous."
Parker, who appreciates the compliments, says that
the fabulous clothes she has worn have affected her.
"It's a thrill to somebody who's loved clothing
for as long as I can remember. In fact, clothing is meant to cover you
and all the wonderful things that come along with covering your person.
But what it's mostly done is given me opportunities to wear extraordinary,
one-of-a-kind, magnificently built dresses that I would never have had
an opportunity to wear. I'm a far more modest dresser than my character,
but I've inherited some really fantastic things."
When nudged, Parker shares a few of her favorite fashion
designers. "There's not one occasion when I've worn a beautiful
dress that I haven't been stunned by the opportunity. You know, anywhere
from Oscar de la Renta to Narciso Rodriguez to Isaac Mizrahi to new
She has been fortunate enough to keep many of the fabulous
outfits she wore on the show. If it's not auctioned off for charity
or returned to a designer's showroom, she keeps it. "Everything
is archived really carefully. I have it in a storage place and I'm very
sentimental about it." She jokes, "I will be one of those
crazy old ladies with a lot of meaningless clothes. But seriously, they
all mean something to me, like the dress I wore when (Mr.) Big and I
fell into the water."
One story line that Parker is proud of is the relationship
between Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and her divorce attorney, Harry Goldenblatt,
played by Evan Handler. Prim and proper Park Avenue Charlotte falls
for Harry, who is unlike her ideal image of a man and ends up converting
to Judaism so that they can marry. The episodes involved were handled
with taste and great respect.
In keeping with her Jewish roots, Parker has done a
number of projects that reflect a Jewish cultural nature. She has hosted
the Hebrew version of Sesame Street called Shalom Sesame (an engaging
episode featuring the Passover story), read Jewish folk tales on National
Public Radio and also narrated a documentary on the Hasidic community.
Parker says her next movie will be shot in New York
and jokes that "it will be good to play a woman who buys clothes
she can actually afford." Several movie offers are firm and she
says one will be filmed in the spring and one in the fall, both in New
Despite speculation about the ending of the show, a
majority of the loyal viewers were pleased. In case you missed it, Carrie
left her Russian artist lover, Aleksandre Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov),
in Paris and was romantically taken back to Manhattan by her one true
love, Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth. In the last scene, Mr. Big (who
reveals his name as John) is selling his Napa Valley vineyard and moving
back to New York to sweep Carrie off her feet. Is their future secured?
No, but the fairy tale is still alive. Noth, a confirmed bachelor who
shares many traits with his on-screen character, admits that like most
of us he is smitten with his leading lady.
"We are great pals. I feel personally and professionally
in sync with Sarah Jessica, so it makes it great to spend time together,"
Noth recently said. "Working with her is easy and it's not driven
by selfish, egotistical needs. I trust her implicitly; that's an enormous
bond for two actors to have. I talk to Sarah all the time, and we have
become such close friends that I also confide in her."
Parker says that she and head writer Michael Patrick
King feel that the girls-Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte-will
forever be linked to pop culture in New York. There are also DVDs and
reruns to keep the show alive. The ride is not over. Just weeks after
the show ended in February 2004 there were serious discussions about
a Sex and the City movie, with King as the writer.
Parker says the movie would have to have the same sass
and spunk as the TV show to succeed. So why does she feel her show has
won such deep affection from TV viewers around the world?
"I would like to think that it's because the show
is about intimate relationships with people-provocation aside and titillation
aside-and all the things that are sort of colorful heartbeat things-caring,
deep relationships-hold an audience. And it was all about good humor
and stellar writing and all. So it has to do with intelligence and the
Although many viewers feared that motherhood was the
primary reason Parker decided to end the show, she admits that was just
one part of the puzzle. "It was very much a decision that Michael,
HBO and I came to. To be perfectly candid, I think the discussions began
before I was pregnant, which was nearly three years ago."
She said it took great thought and angst, but there
were many reasons to let go.
"Michael (Patrick King) has said he loves these
characters and he could write them again and again for the next two
years. But he feared that the series would morph into another series.
It wouldn't be Sex and the City, it would be four characters
in a city a little bit more like Omaha. So it's really out of affection
for Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha; it's out of enormous affection
that we made this decision. I can't imagine loving a job more or loving
the people more that I'm with 18 hours a day."
For the future, Parker says that the show will be a
tough act to follow. "I have high standards now because of the
writers and producers I have worked with. I would like to continue to
make choices the way I have always made choices. And that's what is
thrilling and terrifying and challenging and what is new and fun. And
who do I get to work with? And where do I get to work? And when? And
how? I think it's important to me to play somebody very different. Perhaps
somebody who doesn't have access to magnificent clothing and maybe lives
in a rural environment," she says with a laugh. "I try to
do interesting things. I think all of us should have high standards.
I've been working as an actress now for 31 years. I just tried to make
good, smart, wise choices, tried not to embarrass my family too much."
Sarah Jessica Parker is close to her family and loves
having her mom and siblings over for family time. In fact, her brother
Aaron was a production assistant on her successful show. She remains
true to her Jewish roots in her concern for others. She is the National
Ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and is their representative
for the Performing Arts. She was awarded the 1995 American Civil Liberties
Union Award and is a member of Hollywood's Women's Political Committee.
For those of us who are green with envy over Parker's
perfect life, she smiles, showing she has both brains and beauty on
her side. "I am very lucky. I have had an amazing ride with Sex
and the City, and my home life is great. But nothing is perfect,"
the lovely lady reminds us. "We make choices, and the key is to
make the most of what is going on in our lives and make time for those
people in our lives that we dearly love. That's the real success."
Sources: LifeStyles Magazine