With two new movies, Sarah Jessica Parker is one hot commodity|
by Bob Strauss, published on April 12, 2008 - 06:00:27 PM PDT
Here's an interesting dilemma.
Sarah Jessica Parker has a new film out called "Smart People" - a quirky, not always likable, realistic comedy about folks who are too smart for their own good - and one dropping late next month that you may have heard of called "Sex and the City."
Is the New York-based actress, who is also a producer on "Sex," worried about too much exposure?
"I always worry about everything being right, that's kind of the way I function," admits the actress, who aside from her iconic success as "Sex's" single everywoman Carrie Bradshaw has enjoyed a couple of romantic comedy movie hits ("Failure to Launch," "The Family Stone") recently. "I loved being part of `Smart People' ... But you do worry. You kind of are taught - there's kind of a philosophy - that people don't want to see smart movies and that adults don't go to the theaters.
"I just simply think that's not true, because all I'm ever looking for is a grown-up movie. So, hopefully, this movie will find its audience."
In "Smart People," Parker's Dr. Janet Hartigan gets reacquainted with the grumpy literature professor she had a crush on in college when he lands in her ER. Dennis Quaid's Professor Wetherhold has lost his wife and gone through numerous other midlife crises since they last met, making him even more antisocial than she remembers. His overachieving teenage daughter ("Juno's" Ellen Page) hates the idea of sharing her dad with anyone else, and Janet has her own problems relating to men. Despite all that, a very, very tentative romance ensues.
"It's a great story about real people," Parker says of novelist Mark Poirier's first produced screenplay. "He has keen insight into what it is to be broken, and to be desirous of love and simply not be equipped to pursue it, and what it is to be very bright and still not be able to communicate things."
Although she's primarily been identified with romantic comedy, Parker began her career as a child dancer in Ohio before moving on to the Broadway production of "Annie." She drew a loyal following as the misfit schoolgirl in the TV series "Square Pegs," appeared in an eclectic variety of films ("Footloose," "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Ed Wood") and has continued to appear on stage, sometimes opposite husband Matthew Broderick.
The main thing she loves about "Smart People" is that it's different from anything else she's done.
"Anything that you don't relate to, connect to or understand, for me, is fun," she says. "I like to play people who are different from me, different from parts I've played, and who have complicated lives. They're few and far between, those kinds of scripts, because I think there's a general assumption that there's no audience for it. But I sure like it when one comes my way."
Famous last words, sort of. Much as she digs a new challenge, Parker admits that she was over the moon to get the "Sex and the City" reunion film launched after many false starts.
"Every disappointment, every devastation, every dead end, every time it fell apart didn't matter in the end," she gushes. "By the time we stepped onto the set on Sept. 19 (2007), it was a real privilege.
"Oh my god, getting back together with the girls was amazing, and I'm probably more in touch with them all now than I even was then. So it's been fantastic."
The movie, which takes place three years after the 1998-2004 HBO series ended, will find Carrie still together with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), and her three BFFs - man-hungry Samantha (Kim Cattrall), prim and proper Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and cynical Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) - all deeply involved in their own relationships. Parker doesn't want to give away specifics about what brings the quartet back together and where they go from there, but she does assure us that the movie will be as blunt-spoken and raunchy as the cable comedy's best episodes.
Though perhaps a little more mature. But just as insightful, with any luck, about how women view love, sex and men in this day and age.
"It was fortuitous, a lot of things came together at the right time," Parker says of the show. "Candace Bushnell's (the sex columnist on whom Carrie is loosely based) storytelling skills, which were our jumping-off point, provided great source material for us. And HBO allowed us to tell the stories the way we wanted to."
Since the TV show ended, Parker has been more than content to appear in the occasional movie and pursue other interests.
"I have a company that produces for HBO," she explains. "I've got a new fragrance coming out called Pure Bloom; it's a sister to Covet. And I work on my clothing line. But most importantly, I'm a mom. My son, James, is 5 1/2; it's always a fun time to be a mom, but this is particularly good."
Even if it does overshadow so much else, though, Parker can't be anything other than grateful for her "Sex and the City" fame.
"The show was one of the great experiences of my professional life," she confirms. "And obviously, it radically changed my life in numerous ways, some more important than others. But it was an absolute blessing, like something that just fell out of the sky and I was lucky enough to be standing there to catch it.
"That was me. I was a lucky catcher."