Smart People : Sarah Jessica Parker Interview


SMART PEOPLE will be opening in cinemas everywhere May 16th 2008.
Certificate: 15 Running Time: 94 min

Q: What made you decide to join the cast of Smart People?
I was asked to read the script quickly because a decision had to be made and I just loved it. I thought a great script; a great script, beautiful. And not just because a lot of scripts aren’t great, I wasn’t qualifying it like that, it was on it’s own a beautifully written script. And by the time, you know, I was asked to be part of the project everybody had been cast, people were basically in Pittsburgh almost shooting so it was, the whole package was, very ideal.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the character you play?
My character’s name is Janet, Dr. Janet Hartigan, and she is a physician in Pittsburgh at Allegheny General and she is, I would say, a bit of a damaged person. I think, a victim of her own choices and somebody who really, for reasons that remain unknown, isn’t very good at pursuing the longer version of relationships. She’s very skilled at starting them then stopping them quickly.

Q: And in the film she starts such a relationship with Dennis Quaid’s character…. How does that come about?
Laurence Wetherhold comes into the ER the hospital where she’s the attending ER physician and he is her patient and she recalls that he was this really curious professor she had when an English major. And she’s basically driven from her major by him. He’s somewhat loathed at Carnegie Mellon. But he’s a very compelling person and over the course of the movie they re-establish an adult relationship.

Q: Did you enjoy the chance to work with Dennis Quaid?
I’m surprised by his real kindness and his attention to people around him and how interested he is in really pursuing the part as long as they’ll let him work. He’s endlessly working on it. He’s very decent and has a quality about him which remind me of people that are new, that are starting in the movie business, because he seems so fresh. He seems so delighted by it, and he doesn’t seem cynical about the process or, I don’t know, there are qualities that you would expect him to possess and he just doesn’t.

Q: This is director Noam Murro’s first feature film, how was it to work with him?
There is a definite tone and environment that he is working to create on this movie and I came and jumped onto a moving train. It’s very scary to enter as I did. There’s a shorthand to what he wants and you really have to figure it out, so it’s been very challenging for me frankly. A challenge which I’m delighted to accept. I want very much for him to be happy with the work because I know he sees it in his head. He sees what he wants the story to be. And it’s very specific and I hope that I’ve managed to somehow hear that voice – find it, you know – and fit into this movie.

Q: You also have Sex and the City about to come out, what can you tell us about the story?
I can tell you than Michael Patrick King, the director has been very wise in crafting this version of the movie compared the script we had a few years ago. Because a nice amount of time has passed, and the women have changed, and the city has changed, and politics and art have changed us. And, as you get older, you make different decisions; the younger person always informs the older person.

Q: Do we catch up with what the women have been doing since we last saw them?
Not really because Michael Patrick succeeded in bringing all of their pasts into the story without having to remind people where they’ve been. He’s created a story that’s smart and it’s funny, and there are great surprises that I think are really bold. I don’t think it’ll be what people expect! I think Carrie has arrived at a place in her life where she feels very content. She has a very successful relationship with a man that she has worked very hard at being with. I think she thinks she knows him and she knows herself in this relationship and she has found extraordinary success in her working life. She has produced two more books. The subject matter is somewhat the same — men and women and sexual politics and obviously it’s informed by her own age and I think she’s still very satisfied with her relationships with her women friends but everybody is in a different place. There is family and children and husbands and careers and I think she’s living a life that is extremely satisfying for her. I think it’s a different life than the one she thought she might have as a twenty year old. Then something very unexpected happens and it’s earth shattering and what we see about Carrie is that she’s definitely not he same person she was at 27!

Q: Do you feel close to the new Carrie, who has changed a lot since the first series?
Yeah, I like how the show was shaped; it was really smart, and gave depth to all the characters. It wasn’t about just the titillating and the colourful stuff; there was also complexity, with Carrie and Big’s relationship, for example. The way her story moved was what kept me interested in playing the part for all those years.

Q: You even found yourself back in New York towards the end of Smart People, where does that come in the plot?
Dennis’ character, well you know, there are two things happening professionally for him sort of parallel in the story. One is that he really wants to chair the English department at CMU and it seems to be eluding him. And one of the reasons is that he’s not really been a published author and he’s bitter about academic life, it seems to me, which I think obviously can happen. And so he’s pursuing having a published book as well as the chair of the department and partway through the story he hears from a publisher in New York, a big publisher – Penguin –that is showing interest in his book. And so we come to New York, a brief trip for him to meet with this editor.

Smart People is in cinemas from May 16 and for more info visit