Divorce in the City – why Sarah Jessica Parker is back on TV

She's a happily married woman in real life, but now Sarah Jessica Parker is dealing with the difficulties of life after a failed marriage in Divorce, her new TV series with HBO, now showing on Foxtel’s Showtime channel.

Conceived as a comedy, the show marks her television comeback after Sex and The City ended its six-season run in 2004. Parker plays Frances, a woman in the process of rebuilding her world after splitting from her husband (Thomas Haden Church of Sideways and Spider-Man 3).

"I was interested in this series because it's both a portrait of marriage and divorce and how this woman feels lost and alone at this point in her life,” Parker, 51, says. "It's about how she has sacrificed many of her dreams for the sake of building a family and then feels disappointed by her husband and needs to start over."

Fortunately for Parker, she and actor husband Matthew Broderick, 53, remain very much a devoted couple after 19 years of marriage. They live in New York City with their three children, son James, 13, and six-year-old twin daughters Marion and Tabitha.

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SJP has been married to Matthew for 19 years (Image: Neilson Barnard / AFP)

Recently, the lithe actress starred in the romantic comedy All Roads Lead to Rome about a woman who takes a road trip through Italy together with her rebellious teenager.

In addition, she has launched her own SJP Collection of shoes that is sold in Nordstrom stores and also online. She also markets a "Strip Collection" of shoes, handbags and candles inspired by Las Vegas and exclusive to Tony Hsieh's Zappos Couture.

The Interview

Q: Sarah, how does it feel to be shooting Divorce, which marks your TV comeback?
SJP: It's been wonderful to work with HBO again. I'm executive producing as well as playing in the series and it's a very challenging new experience for me. The part [of Frances] is an interesting kind of woman to play because it allows us to explore a lot of the issues involving marriage that most people will be able to appreciate as well as all the complications that follow when Frances grows weary of her marriage. I also love the writing and so it's exciting to be able to work on a project like this and get to shoot in New York again.

Watch the trailer for her new TV series Divorce:


Parker stars alongside Thomas Haden Church in the new comedy series

Q: How did the series come about?
SJP: I had been interested in this kind of a story for several years and I had been developing it with HBO whom I had worked with before on SATC. We had wanted to work on a new project together and after meeting Sharon Horgan I knew that we had found the right person (to write it and co-produce) to work with us. Then we found Thomas Haden Church to play the husband character and we were very lucky that he agreed to do it because he hadn't done TV in a long time.

Q: Do you find it curious that people still love to imagine you as Carrie and will always remember you for that iconic role?
SJP: It’s something a lot of actors live with and especially in the case of a successful series that runs a long time and was loved by a lot of people. People tend to confuse our real selves with the characters we play and obviously Carrie struck a chord with audiences.

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Parker has won two Emmy Awards and four Golden Globes for her role in Sex in the City
(Image: Facebook / Sex in the City)

But except for the fact that we both love living in New York, there really aren't any similarities. I'm a working mother who has been married for a long time and my children keep me very busy ... I usually don't wear heels either because I'm always running around with my children.

Q: Do you like raising your children in New York?
SJP: New York is one of the most interesting cities in the world that you ever raise your children in. I love being able to observe people and feel part of the city when I ride the subway. I love all the different neighbourhoods. There is so much going on her in terms of art and culture and it's endlessly stimulating.

I think my children are fortunate to grow up here and benefit from everything that New York has to offer. It means a lot to me to watch them become very curious and excited about being part of this kind of environment just like I have.

Q: What does having a family mean to you?
SJP: I grew up in a large family, and having children and being in a stable relationship with the man I love is something that gives me security and makes me feel good. So that's really what it's all about for me. My children give me so much happiness and they're the greatest gift of my life.

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Parker enjoying a tennis game with her daughter (Image: Al Bello / AFP)

Q: Is it more comfortable for you to be involved in a TV series now that your twins are older?
SJP: I have an easier time than working mothers who work at an office five days a week and often need to stay late. I can choose the projects I want to work on and often I'm at home for long periods of time, which is a luxury many women don't have when it comes to looking after their children. I love being able to give my children a stable routine and having dinner ready for them and being able to put them to bed every night.

Q: You've also just played in a film about a mother who has a complicated relationship with a teenage daughter and their road trip in Italy together. What was that experience like?
SJP: I was interested in being part of an old-fashioned romantic comedy and I thought the story was very charming. Also getting to shoot the film in Italy and places like Perugia was one of the major attractions. The food is so great, the culture, the museums, and its such a beautiful country - I especially love Tuscany. I also wanted a chance to spend some time in Rome again.

Q: What was Rome like?
SJP: Rome is one of the world's great cities. I loved being there. I did a lot of bike-riding with Rosie (Day) who plays my character's daughter and we went all across Rome on our bikes. We even went to the Vatican and got to hear the Pope speak.

Q: You've also designed a line of women's shoes. Does that kind of continue the legacy of Carrie and SATC?
SJP: My collection is very different. I wanted to create shoes that would be sexy, comfortable, and reasonably priced for women who work hard for their money.

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One of Parker's memorable fashion moments was at the 2015 Costume Institute Gala Benefit
(Image: Timothy A. Clary / AFP)

I've always loved shoes and I resisted the chance to do my own shoe collection for a long time because I knew I had to do it right because there was this association between myself and that famous character (Carrie) I played.

I benefited from working with George Malkemus III, the CEO of Manolo Blahnik, and the things I insisted on were that the shoes be made in Italy and that they would be shoes that I would wear myself, for a woman who works and runs around all day, but still wants the glamour.

What is your favourite SJP on-screen moment? Let us know in the comments below.

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