Sarah Jessica Parker spoken about the assumed frivolity of stereotypically female characters and how far from just “fun” playing them can be.
As much as the central character of one of the most influential television series of all times is loved, Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw has also been considered somewhat frivolous at times.
From rolling off lines such as “when I first moved to New York I used to buy Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt it fed me more” to spending hundreds of dollars on shoes without having a cent in savings (which became a slight problem when she couldn’t afford to buy her apartment), Bradshaw isn’t known for being the grittiest of characters. Heck, even the creators of the show have since admitted her Champagne lifestyle was a little over the top.
So it’s no real surprise, then, that Sarah Jessica Parker has been asked many a time in the 20 years since she first popped on that pink tutu, about how fun it must have been to run around New York in Manolos, and only using her oven for storage.
Well, as it turns out, not all that fun. It also turns out she gets pretty ticked off by the implication that playing the iconic New Yorker was a walk in the park.
In an interview with Daily Beast about her latest film Here and Now, Parker discusses how filming in New York this time was so refreshing as the city isn’t portrayed with “promise and aspirational sparkle”, but as a place that her character Vivienne resents, feeling it’s let her down. Unlike the depiction of it in Sex and the City, where it’s pretty 5th Avenue heavy.
Looking back on the beginning of her New York story and her most famous role, Parker notes that the seeming ridiculousness of Bradshaw has in the past clouded interviewer’s assumptions about the work that goes into playing a character like that.
Parker explains that this is something she feels happens more to women than men, saying: “I’m not sure how seriously women are taken, period.
“It’s not just the characters, it’s—how mature are the conversations people want to have with an actor? There is an assumption not just about what you endow a male character to possess as a person or personality or traits or shortcomings that we can call and colour all sorts of different ways, but also an assumption about the person playing the part.”
Reenacting her response to the trite question, she continues: “I’m like, yeah, it was fun…but it’s also really hard! Like, that was an acting job.
“She was a deeply emotional person. She made tons of mistakes. She was raw and exposed. She was flawed. She was ridiculous. She was silly. She was funny, she was smart. She sobbed and you know, pulled herself across a threshold countless times to try to find home. But people thought, you know, they didn’t think it was work for me. I’m like, no, actually, look at all of it. Take your time and look at all of it! And then ask me if it was fun—or do you want to have a serious conversation about the fact that I’m an actor?”
Because yes, Bradshaw liked shoes. She liked drinking Cosmopolitans and she liked reading fashion magazines. But no, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing more to her.
Thanks to the ingrained sexism of our society, so many of the activities or interests that are seen as stereotypically female are also therefore considered less important or less meaningful. But as Parker points out, while Bradshaw might have been famous for her fashion (which is a skill and art form in itself, thank you very much), she was also a successful author and acclaimed columnist, went through her fair share of emotionally damaging relationships which she dealt with in the healthiest way she could, and maintained some incredible friendships.
And guess what, playing all that ain’t easy.
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