Special Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker
She became a small-screen icon deciphering how to find the perfect partner, now Sarah Jessica Parker's focusing her attentions on what happens when marriages crumble.
In the opening episode of Divorce, a disastrous evening at a friend's 50th birthday party provokes Frances to reassess her marriage to Robert, played by Sideways star Thomas Haden Church.
Deciding she needs a clean break and a fresh start, Frances tells her husband they need to part ways, prompting Robert to ask: "When did it start going off the tracks in your mind?" "Well, perhaps when you grew the moustache," Frances confesses, in a moment that perfectly sums up the show's tone.
The subject matter might not scream light relief, but the actress knew that "if we wanted to do it in a half-hour format, it had to be funny somehow".
Divorce marks her first return to HBO since the Golden Globe-winning Sex And The City ended after six series in 2004 (two movies followed in 2008 and 2010). It depicts the frustrating, devastating, complicated and seemingly never-ending process of unwinding a marriage.
Parker, who also serves as executive producer on the show, had been looking for something in this vein for a few years.
"There had been lots of ideas," she admits, but given that so many marriages end in divorce now, it would be easy to suggest it's the norm. As Parker points out: "For the people it's happening to, it's not ordinary - unless you're a serial divorcee. It is monumental, and if there are children involved, I imagine you feel undone.
"You feel flat-out terrible disappointment to yourself, to your spouse, and most importantly, your children. So it does happen all the time, but to the people it's happening to, for them it's a war, it's combat, it's the trenches. It's just terrible, and it doesn't matter if it happens easily for people or not. For those who loved and cared, it must feel Earth-shattering."
The actress readily admits she's always been interested in how other people live their lives.
"I think we [all] are, unless I'm completely mad," she reasons. "From the time I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me to stop staring all the time. He used to say, 'You're making a spectacle of yourself', but I was always interested in everybody."
"From the time I was a little girl, I've always loved to be someone else," notes the actress. "Not because I'm unhappy being myself, but rather because it's the most wonderful thing in the world to be somebody else; to spend some hours, days, years being someone else [rather] than being yourself. It's this peculiar, wonderful, alternate life and, to me, endlessly fascinating."
To that end, she's keen to explore characters "least like me or Carrie". "That's what's good for me, and makes me sick to my stomach with fear, excitement and worry, but it's what I think is necessary," she adds.
She isn't opposed to returning to Sex and The City again, however, to see how Carrie, Mr Big and the girls are getting along.
"I don't think any of us have said no. I don't know whether it'd be a series or a movie, that remains an open question and discussion that will continue," says Parker. "I think that's always a possibility, definitely."