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From Courteney Cox’s Monica to SJP’s Carrie Bradshaw, how stars really feel about their iconic alter egos

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Amy Swales
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We have special relationships with our favourite long-running TV shows, be it the ones we tuned in for religiously every week, borrowed DVD boxsets of after arriving late to the party or binge-watched when entire new series dropped on Netflix and Sky.

But it's a double-edged sword for the actors involved with such beloved productions. On the one hand, there's the rare guarantee of steady income and a place in audiences' hearts, while on the other, there's the potential for typecasting and boredom.

With Sarah Jessica Parker's admission that she doesn't see herself as anything like the person she famously portrayed in Sex and the City, we couldn't help but wonder (sorry) whether those who play the same character for years share anything with the fictional people they spend half their life being.

From Joan Holloway to Alicia Florrick to Carrie Mathison, read on to see how leading women feel about their alter egos.

Carrie Bradshaw / Sarah Jessica Parker

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Sarah Jessica Parker played Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City from 1998

Parker initially resisted taking on a long-term job, but as we all now know, ended up playing Carrie Bradshaw for years, during the TV show's run from 1998 to 2004 and in the two subsequent films.

Given she has her own line of shoes, Parker may appear to share some traits with the character, but “not a lot”.

“I think in many ways I'm like Carrie because I would much prefer to be interviewing you, for instance. I'm very curious about other people, and that's why I like the subway. Because I can just watch people,” she told E! News. “[But] I think there's not a lot about Carrie that is actually similar to my life. Our choices have been so radically different [...]

“I like clothing, but I don't have anywhere near a fevered relationship that she does.”

Alicia Florrick / Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies The Good Wife

Julianna Margulies plays Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife

Margulies has been appearing in The Good Wife since 2009, but has said she's been playing such an emotional part for so long that she needs physical separation from her character during filming.

“I’m constantly reminded about how sad Alicia is,” she said. “The only way I can separate myself from her is if I leave her at the door. That’s why I insist on us having wigs every season. I need to be able to physically take her off.”

But she's also discussed how the character may have changed her a little as an actor.

“I admire the way she [Florrick] is silent more than she speaks,” she said ahead of the seventh series. “And you can see the wheels turning in her head. And I realise it’s so much more powerful to actually think before you speak than to just go off the top of your head, which was so the way I used to react as an actress. I hold my emotions on my sleeve, and she holds them so deep down.”

Carrie Mathison / Claire Danes

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Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland

Claire Danes has been pretty emphatic about not being much like her Homeland character Carrie Mathison in the past, telling Glamour magazine in 2014: “The truth is, Carrie is so dissimilar to me on basically every level.

“I would be an abysmal CIA officer. I’m not even a political beast. I make imaginative leaps all the time. I’m very good at pretending, I guess.”

However, asked more recently to name some similarities, Danes said they were both passionate about their careers. “It sounds ridiculous [...] We both have this gift of being deeply attracted to our respective lines of work. They happen to be different. Although there's a lot of role-playing involved in both [...] And I can be very hard on myself, and I think she's also those things, too.”

Monica Geller / Courteney Cox

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Courteney Cox played Monica Geller in Friends for 10 years

Courteney Cox was originally up for the role of Rachel Green in Friends, but has previously revealed she was so certain she was born to play another part that she lobbied hard for it.

She said: “I liked the fact that she was strong. I liked the fact that she just wasn’t, you know, your typical girl. I really thought I should be Monica. I really did.”

And she admitted she perhaps did identify on some levels with the occasionally uptight Monica ‘Rules help control the fun’ Geller, saying: “It's not like I let people do things for me, so I guess you can call me a control freak, or you can call me passionate. I'm not a passive person by any stretch of the imagination.”

Joan Holloway / Christina Hendricks

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Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway in Mad Men

Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway in Mad Men was memorable for more than her incredible wardrobe and enviable flame-red updos, and the actor revealed she was so close to the character that aspects of her own personality crept in.

Hendricks told Red magazine: “After Matt [Weiner, creator] got to know me better, he started incorporating aspects of my personality into Joan. At first she was rather intimidating and snarky, but then she got more sensitive and vulnerable, which is a lot more me infused in her.”

But in 2012 she insisted Holloway's confident walk was something she left on set: “I get asked so much about the walk but it’s not me.”

Claire Underwood / Robin Wright

Robin Wright Claire Underwood House of Cards

Robin Wright as unflinching Claire Underwood in House of Cards

Wright hasn't spoken much on specific traits she may share with her House of Cards character (to be fair, that's somewhat understandable), but she has spoken about having to be in a certain mindset to play Claire Underwood.

Asked if it was difficult to play “such a diva”, she replied: “The only note that [director and executive producer] David Fincher ever gave me when we started the show was to be still. People were suggesting to base the character on Hillary Clinton or other strong women personas, and I didn’t want to do that.

“When we shot the first couple of scenes, David would come over to me and say, ‘Don’t move. Don’t move. Claire is a bust.’ Now when I have the Claire clothes, the Claire hair, and say the Claire words, it just clicks. I’m completely and totally still [except with Kevin Spacey]. We’re so goofy. In between takes, we’re very goofy. We giggle a lot.”

Samantha Jones / Kim Cattrall

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Kim Cattrall in 1998 as Samantha Jones in Sex and the City

Sex and the City's Samantha Jones was a forthright, no-messing kind of woman, happy to be upfront about her sexual appetite. Unsurprisingly, Kim Cattrall says that playing her for so long led to some assuming she was exactly the same herself.

“People have a misconception of what they are going to get. Although people always say to me: ‘You look younger and better than Samantha.’ That’s because she had a harder edge,” she explained in an interview.

And in another, she revealed she liked Jones' straightforward attitude. “The thing I loved about Sex and the City and playing Samantha Jones is that she was so honest. She had no hidden agenda, and I feel the same way. If I get behind something, it's because I'm passionate about it.”

Images: Rex Features

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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.

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