In a case of art imitating life, Sarah Jessica Parker is starring in I Don’t Know How She Does It as a woman balancing her career and small kids while trying to maintain a blissful marriage. Parker sat down recently to chat about the film and how her passion for the character Kate was so strong, she thought “she would be an excellent friend to have.”
In I Don’t Know How She Does It, SJP is married to Richard (Greg Kinnear) as the couple raises children while Parker’s Kate becomes increasingly more successful in her career. Parker knows all too well how to do the balancing act of her professional and personal life and she tells us, in many ways, that is what most drew her to the part.
Her insight into the role and the script based on the popular book by Allison Pearson is priceless, and don’t miss what she has to say about her co-star Pierce Brosnan. Parker is equally reflective, optimistic and all delightful as she dishes her latest movie project.
Movie Fanatic: What resonated with you about the script of I Don't Know How She Does It?
Sarah Jessica Parker: There was a lot that was resonant with me. I think specifically, there’s a few themes in the movie. The fact they were very grown up in a way because they were about people who are really in the thick of their lives. They’re not superheroes. They’re not heroic in any way. They’re not terrifically wealthy. They’re not on the margins. So, they’re telling a sort of everyman’s story to see what it is to be a working parent outside the home in this particular time. I think we are parents in a very specific way to our generation and there are a lot of complications that come with the choices that we are making. The story conveyed those complexities very, very well -- and did it in an amusing way. It brought in all sorts of opinions, I understood it. I related to the chaos. I related to the desire to manage the chaos. I related to the feeling of being a great failure. I related to the secret triumphs. All of it is very familiar to me and it will be too to a lot, a lot, a lot of women.
Movie Fanatic: Our parents’ generation had to make a choice between work and being at home. Do you think women today can have it all, or is it not so much of a choice anymore as much as it is a demand?
Sarah Jessica Parker: That is what our mothers told us, they wanted us to believe that we could have it all. I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor. You have to have reasonable expectations. That’s what Kate discovers over the course of the movie is that you have to reconcile that it will still be a mess. You can attempt. We should all have high expectations for ourselves and our children, but we should also be somewhat forgiving of our shortcomings.
Movie Fanatic: How familiar with the story from the book were you before delving into this production?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I actually hadn’t read the book. I think I’m one of the few who hadn’t [laughs]. Then, I was familiar with the book. I knew of the book and its great success in the UK and in this country as well. Then, I read the screenplay and I thought it was really beautiful. I knew that Aline (Brosh McKenna) had done a yeomen’s job of adapting the source material so [laughs], I have yet to read the book.
Movie Fanatic: But for you that’s understandable, you want to make the character your own based on the words on the page of the script, no?
Sarah Jessica Parker: I was a little afraid to read the book because books have this wonderful opportunity – there’s this luxury of time in books. Cinema doesn’t allow for that, we have a limited time to tell a story. I knew that there would be details that I couldn’t apply to my experience. I didn’t want to fall in love with things that we couldn’t put into the screenplay. Maybe that’s a foolish decision. I don’t know. [Laughs] That’s yet to be determined. But, I felt I was cleaner and more pure having solely the experience of the screenplay. I just loved the script.
Movie Fanatic: What most appealed to you about Kate?
Sarah Jessica Parker: She’s a great and admirable person. I love playing her. I feel deeply honored to have been chosen to portray her. I like her very much. She is a really good and decent person. There’s a sort of innocence to her approach to life. She’s a sophisticated working person in a competitive and intimidating field. But, there is a sort of innocence about her that is very appealing, meaning she’s really not cynical about life. She’s desperately hungry for big great experiences and challenges. I like that she’s kind to other women, even if her inner monologue is secretly cutting.
Movie Fanatic: So, how was working with one of our best James Bonds? How was Pierce Brosnan?
Sarah Jessica Parker: Great -- an absolute surprise. One could project a lot onto him prior to actually meeting him. I had worked with him before on Mars Attacks, but we didn’t get to have this kind of working experience then. It was much more brief. He was James Bond! He walks in the room with all this stuff you endow him with, the truth is he is, of course, very elegant and suave and debonair -- but he is a very sweet, kind, wanting to be a good man. There’s a vulnerability to him, which was a total surprise.