The Sex and the City star is heading back to HBO this fall in her new series Divorce, for which the actress made an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday. And the star said the show taught her a lot about breaking up.
“[Divorce] is rife with all sorts of people that relish it and enjoy it,” she told reporters. “There’s things about it that friends enjoy because it allows them to voice feelings and share thoughts about spouses that they were harboring. I think it can bring out some selfish qualities in people.”
She added that divorce can often bring out the darker side of a person:
“I think really smart people can do ridiculously awful things,” she said. “I think people are hurtful when they never thought they would be. It becomes very battle-like and I see it, I’ve had family members go through it or had close friends consider it. It can be a very emotionally-charged experience.”
For Parker, the show seemed like the opportunity to tell an important story.
“I think I just wanted to tell the story of marriage,” she said during the show’s panel at TCA Saturday. “I’d been working on this idea for four years before Sharon [Horgan] came along.”
The ten-episode, half-hour comedy revolves around Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker), and her husband (Thomas Hayden Church) as they navigate the complex, emotionally-charged process of becoming uncoupled.
Parker said she shared seldom similarities with her character or the act of divorce (she has been married to actor Matthew Broderick for 19 years).
“It’s not so much I’ve been in her position, but I understand somebody who wants to find fulfillment, they need to rescue themselves and their lives,” she said. “Also being a mother who’s concerned with making the right choices for her own children and handling something that’s potentially so painful, how does one – how do you talk about it in a way that’s not patronizing but is careful. That mattered a lot to me in how we talked about it.”
Overall, however, she and her character have very different attitudes.
“I don’t relate to Frances, her life is different,” she said. “She’s a much more withholding chilly person than I am, she’s not very buoyant as you can see, she can be mean and angry but I love playing someone like that. I don’t need to relate to that.”
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When asked about how she approached the character versus her iconic role as Carrie Bradshaw in SATC, she said she didn’t necessarily need to portray a sympathetic character.
“I didn’t care about people responding well to choices Frances made,” she said. “I think marriages are complicated and smart people make choices that are not necessarily smart.”
And as for how much she has learned about making marriage work since taking on this role?
“Not anything from this,” she said.
Divorce premieres on HBO Sunday, Oct. 9.