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Sarah Jessica Parker attends the premiere of "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" at Ziegfeld Theatre on December 14, 2009 in New York City.

from: http://www.canada.com/entertainment/Parker+life+after/2344558/story.html

OTTAWA – When Sex And The City ended its phenomenal television run five years ago, Sarah Jessica Parker saw herself at a crossroads.

Wrenching though the shutdown of the series was for her, she saw it as a positive event. That’s because she was beginning to fear that she was occupying too comfortable a career cocoon.

With her latest romantic comedy – Did You Hear About The Morgans? – this ex-child star who triumphed on Broadway more than 30 years ago as Annie finds herself in a very good place. And she credits it to the decisions she made five years ago.

She says now that the need to make new career choices was “a good reason” for bringing Sex And The City’s small-screen reign to an end.

“You know I loved being there so much,” she says by phone from New York. “I loved making an intelligent series. I loved the people I was with – both working for and with. It was pretty much the most comfortable and satisfied I’ve ever been.

But it struck me one day that this might not be a good thing. And that happened to coincide with a transition I felt we would have to start making in our characters’ lives.”

It was a time for taking stock and making fresh choices. Also for trying to distance herself emotionally from a series she loved, and a character – Carrie Bradshaw – she adored.

“You try to make the smartest choices you can, based on the opportunities that are presented to you. And I think the biggest challenge is not to do what’s comfortable, or easy, or may be the most lucrative. It’s to try to do things that are different, with real people that you admire, real people that will challenge you.”

Films like Smart People and Failure To Launch met her criteria. So does Did You Fear About The Morgans? – filmmaker Marc Lawrence’s new twist on the fish-out-of-water theme.

In this one, Parker and Hugh Grant play a quintessential New York couple who are both successful professionally, but whose marriage is on the rocks. Grant’s errant husband, desperate to win forgiveness for his marital infidelities, has been attempting to woo his estranged wife back into a relationship, but their lives take an unexpected turn one night when they witness a murder and become the prey of a contract killer.

Against their will, they’re forced into a witness protection program and transported to rural Wyoming under the benevolent care of the local sheriff (Sam Elliott) and his gun-toting wife (Mary Steenburgen.) Denied the urban comforts of Blackberries, e-mail and even cable TV, they are forced to adapt to a new existence, and also to a continuing proximity to each other at a time of continuing crisis in their relationship.

“I really liked the story, as Marc Lawrence wanted to tell it. I had heard great things about him. He’s universally loved by actors. But I also liked playing someone who seemed such an innocent about love and was so principled about it. I thought it was a charming and funny and enjoyable Christmas souffle.”

There was a further inducement in the chance to work with Grant. The two met for dinner in London, and hit it off immediately.

But that’s not the message they initially sent to Lawrence, anxiously waiting back in the States for confirmation that they were clicking.

Grant and Parker decided to play a practical joke on their director, and it’s one she now regrets.

Lawrence was horrified to receive e-mails from both actors, saying the meeting had been a disaster, because of Grant’s offensive behaviour. It was only later that Lawrence realized he’d been the butt of a joke.

“I’m not proud of it,” Parker says in confirming the incident. “The story isn’t very amusing now. But then, it struck us as very funny. I don’t know why we did it. Everybody loves hearing that story, but I think we sound foolish now.”

She found Grant a terrific co-star.

“There is no better. There is no finer. He’s fantastic. I had a lot of expectations and he lived up to all of them. I’m so lucky:He’s generous, he’s very conscientious about his work, he cares a great deal. But outside of that, he’s very, very witty and charming and smart and complicated – a real person.”

Parker also feels she’s playing a real person in the film – a successful New York gal who isn’t prepared for the challenges of a cow-town existence – whether it’s the animal heads on the wall (she’s a vegetarian), the lack of opportunity to wear evening dress, or those unsettling encounters with cows and grizzlies. However, Parker also sees a serious theme threading its way through all the comedy, one having to do with the importance of personal relationships.

“She’s successful in her business and has carved out a nice place for herself in a competitive cutthroat business, yet, incredibly, she’s also an innocent. In her ideas about marriage, she’s so principled and unwilling to make the compromises she knows are necessary to get back into her marriage. She’s sort of honourable in a nice way.”

Parker is satisfied that she managed to escape her Sex And The City straitjacket to carve out a new career or herself. What she didn’t expect five years ago was that she and Carrie Bradshaw would continue to enjoy a separate life in feature film.

The first scored huge at the box office last year. Now, she’s just back from Morocco, where she and her co-stars spent seven weeks filming Sex And The City 2. She confirms that much of the movie takes place in an “exotic” place, but that’s as much as she’s prepared to say.

Now back at her New York home base, she has a couple more weeks of shooting before the movie wraps. Still, she’s anxious, as she is with every assignment, about whether it will be a success.

“I hope so. I worry. I hope it’s good. I always worry. We’ve been working very, very hard. I hope it’s good.”

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from Playbill.com:

The Public Theater will introduce New York City teens to the classics as part of the new Shakespeare Initiative, which will launch in summer 2010. (more…)

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