Having your heart broken isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a woman. In fact, said Sarah Jessica Parker, bad experiences in love just make it that much better when you finally get it right.
“I always tell the younger women that I’m around — and I seem to be around more and more younger women; I’m the older person lately — I always tell them to relish having made a bad choice, as long as they’re safe and not in any way hurt physically,” the “Sex and the City” star told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira on Monday in New York.
“The emotional part of that — you must look back on that and really love that time that you thought ‘I’ll never get over this. I’ve made such a terrible choice. He’s broken my heart,’ ” she added. “And I think later in life, you really think, ‘God, that was fantastic. Those were the salad days.’ ”
Parker is happily married to actor Matthew Broderick and has a 5-year-old son, Jamie. She was on TODAY to talk about her new movie, “Smart People,” opening this Friday, in which she plays an emergency room doctor who can’t deal with romantic relationships.
Her co-star is Dennis Quaid, who plays a crusty and embittered English literature professor who shows up in her emergency room. Years earlier, he had given her a C on a paper, a slight she’s carried with her ever since, and from that slender twig, a plot blossoms.
In the film, Quaid is a widower whose wife had died 10 years ago. In addition to wrestling with a career for which he’s lost his passion, he’s raising a brilliant daughter, played by Ellen Page, who shot to stardom last year as the lead in “Juno.”
“I thought the script was beautiful,” Parker said in explaining why she chose to play a part that seems so removed from her own experience. “It’s incredibly smart. It’s such a great observation of real life and the moments alone we spend in pursuit of love or contentment or satisfaction.”
In truth, though, Parker has had her share of tumultuous relationships going back to her first highly publicized romance with actor Robert Downey Jr., who battled drug addiction while they were together. She also had a stormy relationship with singer Joshua Kadison before meeting Broderick, the erstwhile “Ferris Bueller,” whom she married in 1997.
“Yeah, I probably made some wrong choices, but I’m really kind of glad that I have because you make better choices afterward,” Parker said. “You want to have made some wrong choices. You don’t want to get it right so early in life, because it’s all in front of you, I think.”
So, the message, suggested Vieira, is that a woman has to go through a few frogs to get to the prince.
Parker agreed, saying, “It adds more value to that prince. It can’t always be summer. You’ve got to earn it.”
In addition to her acting, Parker has two fragrances, “Lovely” and “Covet,” as well as a line of affordable clothing and accessories called “Bitten” that has been highly praised. She has been named the first winner of the ShoWest Vanguard Award, created to honor exceptional actor/entrepreneurs.
In presenting the award, Mitch Neuhauser, co-managing director of the event, said of Parker: “Her incredible range and effortless style have inspired fans around the world to take chances and stand out in a crowd.”
Parker told Vieira she’s really no different from other women who juggle careers and motherhood.
“I feel like I’m probably inspired by all those working mothers who feel like they’re dancing as fast as they can and lie in bed at night and think about all of the things they didn’t accomplish — and sometimes allow themselves to think about the things they actually did do,” she said. “There’s so many working mothers who have so much less than I do. I feel like I’m just like them. You simply do the best you can.”
She said the most important thing is making sure her son is taken care of and safe. “Without him being all right,” she said, “nothing else matters.”
In May, the film version of "Sex and the City" is scheduled to be released, and Vieira tried to pry out of Parker whether her character, Carrie Bradshaw, finds true love, and if Charlotte gets pregnant.
"Who knows?" said Parker. "Who knows?"