Sarah Jessica Parker
|Born||March 25, 1965|
Nelsonville, Ohio, U.S.
|Partner||Robert Downey Jr. (1984–1991)|
Sarah Jessica Parker (born March 25, 1965) is an American actress and producer. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including six Golden Globe Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022.
She is known for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in the HBO comedy drama series Sex and the City (1998–2004), for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. The character was widely popular during the airing of the series and was later recognized as one of the greatest female characters in American television. She later reprised the role in the films Sex and the City (2008) and Sex and the City 2 (2010), as well as the revival series And Just Like That... (2021–present).
Parker made her Broadway debut at the age of 11 in the 1976 revival of The Innocents, before going on to star in the title role of the Broadway musical Annie in 1979. She made her first major film appearances in the 1984 dramas Footloose and Firstborn. Her other film roles include L.A. Story (1991), Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), Hocus Pocus (1993), Ed Wood (1994), The First Wives Club (1996), The Family Stone (2005), Failure to Launch (2006), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), New Year's Eve (2011), and Hocus Pocus 2 (2022).
In 2012, Parker returned to television for the first time since Sex and the City, portraying Isabelle Wright in three episodes of the Fox musical series Glee. She starred as Frances Dufresne in the HBO comedy drama series Divorce (2016–2019), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Since 2005, she has run her own production company, Pretty Matches, which has created content for HBO and other networks.
Sarah Jessica Parker was born in Nelsonville, Ohio, the daughter of Barbara Parker (née Keck), a nursery-school operator and teacher, and Stephen Parker, an entrepreneur and journalist. She was one of a total of eight children from her parents' marriage and her mother's second marriage; her full siblings include actors Timothy Britten Parker and Pippin Parker. Parker's parents divorced when she was 3+1⁄2 years old, and her mother married Paul Forste, a truck driver and account executive. Stephen, a native of Brooklyn, is Jewish (from a family from Eastern Europe) and his family's original surname was "Bar-Kahn" ("son of Kohen"). Barbara is of German, and some English, descent. Parker has identified culturally with her father's faith, Judaism, although she has had no religious training. Parker's parents struggled to support their large family – often the electricity could be shut off, or the family would have to forgo Christmases and birthdays for lack of money. Nonetheless, she has stated: "I wouldn't change any of it, for anything ... for the most part, we had everything we needed. Not always, but for the most part." Parker's mother immersed her children in culture and extracurricular activities. She often took them to free public institutions like the ballet and the theater in Cincinnati, so that they lived "full, rich lives", emulating the New York artistic scene.
As a young girl, Parker trained in singing and ballet, and was soon cast in the Broadway revival of William Archibald's play The Innocents. Her family moved to Cincinnati and then to Dobbs Ferry, New York, near New York City, so that she could get specialized training. There, her mother and stepfather helped Parker develop her career as a child actress. In 1977, the family moved to the newly opened planned community on Roosevelt Island, in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, and later to Manhattan. The family later moved to Englewood, New Jersey, where Parker attended Dwight Morrow High School.
Parker attended the School of American Ballet in New York City, the New York Professional Children's School, the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, and Hollywood High School in Los Angeles.
Parker and four siblings appeared in a production of The Sound of Music at the outdoor Municipal Theatre (Muny) in St. Louis, Missouri. She was selected for a role in the new 1977–81 Broadway musical Annie: first in the small role of "July" and then succeeding Andrea McArdle and Shelley Bruce in the lead role of the Depression-era orphan, beginning March 1979. Parker held the role for a year. In 1982, Parker obtained the lead role of the CBS sitcom Square Pegs, which lasted just one season. Her performance as a shy teen who showed hidden depths, nevertheless, was acclaimed by critics. In the three years that followed, Parker was cast in four films: the most significant being Footloose (1984) and Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), with Helen Hunt. In 1986, Parker appeared in Flight of the Navigator, a Disney science fiction film.
In the romantic comedy L.A. Story (1991), Parker took on the role of a ditzy aspiring spokesmodel meeting a television meteorologist; both the film and her performance garnered positive reviews. She would star with Nicolas Cage, as the girlfriend of a commitment-phobic man, in the film Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), and play one in a villainous trio of witches in the Disney fantasy family comedy Hocus Pocus (1993), alongside Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy. Honeymoon in Vegas was a critical success, earning US$35m while Hocus Pocus rated average with reviewers and made US$39 million in the US, but became a cult film due to strong DVD sales and large television following. In 1993, she also starred as a police diver opposite Bruce Willis in the film Striking Distance, and in 1994, she appeared opposite Johnny Depp in the critically acclaimed biographical drama Ed Wood as the titular character's girlfriend, Dolores Fuller. She headlined the romantic comedy Miami Rhapsody (1995), playing a woman who has some misgivings about her fiancé, and starred in the off-Broadway play Sylvia, alongside future husband Matthew Broderick.
In 1996, she appeared in another Tim Burton-directed movie, Mars Attacks!, in which she made part of a large ensemble cast consisting of Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, among others, portraying a chat-show host whose head is transposed with that of her chihuahua by the invading aliens. The romantic comedy The First Wives Club saw Parker take on the role of a dim-witted but manipulative fiancée, and also reunite with Hocus Pocus collaborator Bette Midler. The film was a critical darling and a major commercial success, grossing US$105 million at the North American box office, and it developed a cult following among middle-aged women. Her other 1996 release was The Substance of Fire, in which she reprised her 1991 stage role. In 1997, Parker appeared as a washed-up former child actress in the little seen comedy 'Til There Was You.
The script for the HBO dramedy series Sex and the City was sent to Parker. Set in New York City and based on Candace Bushnell's 1997 book of the same name, the show follows the lives of a group of four women—three in their mid-thirties and one in her forties—who, despite their different natures and ever-changing sex lives, remain inseparable and confide in each other. Its creator Darren Star wanted her for the project, and despite some doubts about being cast in a long-term television series, Parker agreed to star. Her role was that of Carrie Bradshaw, the narrator and main protagonist, with each episode structured around her train of thought while writing her weekly column "Sex and the City" for the fictitious paper, the New York Star. Response towards her performance was positive during the show's run and in the years immediately thereafter. Her character was widely popular during the airing of the series and was later recognized as one of the greatest female characters in American television. In 2009, The Guardian named Bradshaw as an icon of the decade, saying "Carrie Bradshaw did as much to shift the culture around certain women's issues as real-life female groundbreakers." Parker received two Emmy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards for her performance.
In late 2005, Parker reunited with First Wives Club co-star Diane Keaton for her first film in years, the seasonal family dramedy The Family Stone, in which she played an uptight, contemporary New York City career woman. James Berardinelli, in his review, wrote: "The talented cast helps. Sarah Jessica Parker, finding that there is life after Sex in the City, has no difficulty with [her role]'s arc. Of all the characters in the movie, she undergoes the biggest transformation, and Parker aces it". Budgeted at US$18 million, it was a commercial success, grossing over US$92 million worldwide. For her role, she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Comedy. Her next film was the romantic comedy Failure to Launch, starring with Matthew McConaughey as an interventionist hired to get a 35-year-old man out of the home of his parents. It was released on March 10, 2006, and opened atop in the North American box office, grossing over US$24 million on its opening weekend, despite negative reviews. Her work as a producer continued with her next starring vehicle, the independent drama Spinning into Butter (2007), based on the Rebecca Gilman play. The film Smart People (2008) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and saw Parker portray a sympathetic doctor, opposite Dennis Quaid and Elliot Page.
Following the end of Sex and the City, rumors of a film version circulated, until preparations for a production were resumed in 2007, and the film was released on May 30, 2008. A sequel Sex and the City 2, was released in 2010. Despite lukewarm critical responses, both films were commercially successful. In the interim, Parker teamed up with Hugh Grant for the romantic comedy Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), playing a recently separated New York power couple on the verge of divorce until they witness the murder of a man. While the film was a moderate commercial success, Parker received a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress, and Roger Ebert, panning the film, noted: "I grant you Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker evoke charm in the right screenplay. This is the wrong screenplay". In 2011, Parker starred in I Don't Know How She Does It, described by critics as "[a] limp comedy with a hopelessly outdated viewpoint on gender, featuring Sarah Jessica Parker in rote Carrie-mode", and also made part of a large ensemble cast in Garry Marshall's romantic comedy New Year's Eve (2011), which made US$142 million worldwide. For Sex and the City 2 and her 2011 roles, she garnered nominations for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress.
Parker guest-starred on season 4 of FOX musical comedy series Glee as Isabelle Wright, a Vogue executive who takes Kurt Hummel under her wing after he graduates and moves to New York. Vulture, on one of its recaps of Glee, remarked: "[C]haracters who are big-eyed but a little broken inside and desperately in love with New York are what Sarah Jessica Parker does best. I don't think her stint on Glee will revolutionize the show or her career or anything, but she's absolutely an asset, and I'm glad she's onboard". In 2013, Parker provided her voice for one of the characters of the animated film Escape from Planet Earth, and played Gloria Steinem in deleted scenes of the biographical drama Lovelace. In 2015, she starred in the independent romantic comedy All Roads Lead to Rome, as an American journalist revisiting Italy with her rebellious daughter.
Beginning in late-2016, Parker executive produced and starred in the HBO dramedy series Divorce, as Frances Dufresne, a married woman who has an affair which precipitates her divorce. Drawn to the "complexity and promise" of the story she was also intrigued by the doubtful likability of her character, remarking: "I like that Frances is very real to me. She's both honorable and messy. She's both exacting and untethered, but I think she's a very real person." The series ran for three seasons and earned acclaim from critics; The A.V. Club noted: "Parker's gift, even on Sex and the City, has always been a well-timed comeback or a reaction shot. [Her character] is not a reboot of Carrie Bradshaw, but she doesn't exactly force the actor to stray from her comfort zone, either. That's not necessarily a bad thing: It's a pleasure to see her back, shaking her head at just the right moment". For her role, she earned a Golden Globe nomination.
In 2018, Parker headlined and produced the independent drama Here and Now, playing a New York City singer who gets a life-changing medical diagnosis.
In February 2020, Parker and her husband, Broderick, starred in a revival of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite at Boston's Colonial Theatre for two weeks. Previews at the Hudson Theatre had been set for March 2020 and its official debut was scheduled for April 2020, but this was later postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Just Like That..., the Sex and the City reboot, was confirmed by HBO Max in January 2021. The first series premiered on December 9, 2021.
In 2000, Parker hosted the MTV Movie Awards, appearing in fourteen different outfits during the show. She has also become the face of many of the world's biggest fashion brands through her work in a variety of advertising campaigns. In August 2003, Parker signed a lucrative deal with Garnier to appear in TV and print advertising promoting their Nutrisse hair products.
In early 2004, shortly after the last season of Sex and the City wrapped up, Parker signed a $38 million contract with the Gap. It was the first multi-season contract in the clothing company's history, in which Parker was to appear in their upcoming fall ads, and continue until the spring of 2005. The endorsement sparked many levels of criticism from the public; the glamorous, urban-chic fashionista that her character Carrie Bradshaw has branded her with, was ironic considering the Gap maintains an image that does not promote high-end fashion. Wendy Liebmann, president of WSL strategic retail, suggested that the Gap "felt the need for an iconic but contemporary face to represent [themselves]. They were perhaps feeling a little insecure, a little in need of some high luster around the brand". However, the ad campaigns were a success, and Parker had given the Gap a new, fresh face that appeared in many commercials, online and print ads, and other promotions.
In March 2005, Parker's contract with the Gap ended, and was replaced with then 17-year-old British soul singer Joss Stone. A rising star at the time, Stone's replacing of Parker was a puzzling move to the public. The company then stated that "While Gap will always seek partnerships with celebrities, musicians and rising stars, we don't have any future plans to sign a single person to a multi-season deal like the unique and special relationship we enjoyed with Sarah Jessica".
Parker released her own perfume in 2005, called Lovely. In March 2007, Parker announced the launch of her own fashion line, "Bitten", in partnership with discount clothing chain Steve & Barry's. The line, featuring clothing items and accessories under $20, launched on June 7, 2007, exclusively at Steve and Barry's. In July 2007, following the success of Lovely, Parker released her second fragrance, Covet. In 2007, Parker was a guest on Project Runway for the second challenge. In 2008, Covet Pure Bloom was released as continuous series of Covet. In February 2009, as part of the Lovely collection, Parker launched a series of three new fragrances called Dawn, Endless, and Twilight.
On February 28, 2014, Parker started the SJP Collection, a footwear line, at Nordstrom. In June 2015, she was named the new spokesmodel for Jordache Jeans. In April 2018, Parker partnered with Gilt to launch her ready-to-wear bridal collection for modern nontraditional brides.
Parker runs her own production company, Pretty Matches, which has been creating content for HBO and other channels since 2009. She founded the company in 2005 with Alison Benson, following an introduction to Benson, from her agent Kevin Huvane. Through Pretty Matches, Parker has produced the series Divorce (2016–2019) and the film Here and Now (2018). Together, Benson and Parker have dedicated towards increasing female representation in media and production work through the company's projects.
In October 2016, Parker announced an imprint with Crown Publishing Group, SJP for Hogarth, and in 2017, her partnership with American Library Association (ALA) to create Book Club Central, a new online platform that will provide reading resources, including recommendations, expert-curated book lists, and other content for book clubs and readers.
In 2019, Parker entered into a collaboration partnership with New Zealand Winery Invivo & Co to produce a range of wines. Together each year they produce a vintage, award-winning Invivo X, Sarah Jessica Parker Sauvignon Blanc, from Marlborough New Zealand; and the Invivo X, Sarah Jessica Parker Rosé from Provence.
Parker was in a relationship with actor Robert Downey Jr. from 1984 until 1991. They met on the set of Firstborn. Downey had a drug problem, which affected their relationship. Parker has said, "I believed I was the person holding him together." She later briefly dated John F. Kennedy Jr.
Parker married actor Matthew Broderick on May 19, 1997, in Manhattan's Lower East Side, in an Episcopal ceremony officiated by Broderick's sister, Janet Broderick Kraft. The couple had been introduced by one of Parker's brothers at the Naked Angels theater company, where Parker and Broderick both performed. The couple married in a civil ceremony in a historic synagogue on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. Their son James was born October 28, 2002. Parker and Broderick's twin daughters, Marion and Tabitha, were born June 22, 2009, via surrogacy. Their respective middle names, Elwell and Hodge, are from Parker's mother's family, which Parker discovered while researching her ancestry for the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, which originally aired March 5, 2010. In the appearance she also discovered she had ancestors involved in the California Gold Rush of 1849–1850 and in the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Since 2009, Parker has lived in Greenwich Village with her husband and children. In 2017, it was reported that the couple was combining two townhouses they had purchased for $35 million on West 11th Street in 2016, with renovations continuing into 2019. The family also spends considerable time at their second home near Kilcar, a village in County Donegal, Ireland, where Broderick spent summers as a child.
She received ten Emmy Award nominations, all for Sex and the City, winning Outstanding Comedy Series (as producer) in 2001 and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2004. She also received nine Golden Globe nominations, with four wins (all for Sex and the City) in 2000, 2001, 2002 & 2004. While Carrie Bradshaw remains Parker's most famous role, some of her critically acclaimed and commercially successful films are:
Before attending Hollywood High School, she was a student at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood. After living for a while on Roosevelt Island, between Manhattan and Queens, Mr. and Mrs. Forste bought a house in Englewood.