Sarah Jessica Parker, who played the lovable Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City,” can be a real pain — at least in the movies.
Two years since the hit TV show that explored the lives of New York City women aired its last original episode, Parker is back with a new film, “The Family Stone,” about a solid clan whose tight bonds come unwound when the eldest son brings home a girlfriend whom nobody likes.
The girl, Meredith Morton, is played by Parker, and she is far removed from the 40-year-old actress — and by extension Carrie Bradshaw — known for a warm heart, bright smile and fashion sense. But that distance, Parker’s understanding of it and her transformation into mean Meredith has award watchers buzzing.
“[Carrie] loved examining people and relationships. She loved this idea of human contact and looking and observing, and Meredith is completely the opposite. She would like not to be touched. She would like not to be hugged,” said Parker.
Meredith is a cold-hearted cow, albeit a funny one. Gone are Parker’s curly blond locks, and in their place is Meredith’s pulled back bun. Parker’s colorful outfits give way to Meredith’s dark suits, slacks and sweaters.
“Family Stone” producer Michael London, who was behind award winner “Sideways” last year, said because Parker is so well-liked, she made the perfect choice to portray vilified Meredith. Audiences may not like her, but for the movie to work, they cannot hate her either.
“The movie lives or dies on how you feel about Meredith because she says and does things that are unsympathetic,” London said. “We took advantage of the perception audiences had of Sarah and of the Carrie Bradshaw thing.”
Meredith, audiences learn, is not the only imperfect person in the world. For all their perfection, the Stones have their faults, too — everyone does — and when Meredith comes into their home, cracks soon appear in the Stones’ veneer.
Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) is a successful executive who is on track to run for political office. He brings Meredith home for Christmas to meet his family and eventually propose.
Mother Stone (Diane Keaton) and Everett’s sister Amy (Rachel McAdams), passionate liberals wrapped in back-to-Earth bohemia, reject conservative Meredith almost immediately.
Father Stone (Craig T. Nelson) and little brother Ben (Luke Wilson) are suspect, too, and even politically correct, gay, deaf brother Thad (Ty Giordano) and his black lover Patrick (Brian White) can’t seem to wrap their arms around the uptight potential family member.
Anybody who has ever been to a boyfriend or girlfriend’s house for dinner or experienced meeting the new in-laws for the first time can identify with Meredith.
“It’s about family and love and loss and disappointments, acceptance and tolerance and ultimately what it means to be a grown-up person,” said Parker.
Gossip & OscarsThe Ohio native knows a lot about big families. She has seven siblings — three from her mother’s first marriage and four from her second.
Parker said she is very close to her brothers and sisters and at family gatherings or holidays, when one brings home a new friend to meet the family, the gossip begins to flow.
“When the person leaves the room, we all look at each other like, ‘Well, this can’t last very long,’ or ‘Please God, don’t let this last very long,”’ she laughed.
“But on the road to being grown-up people, we have learned that you don’t get very far trying to drive a wedge into a relationship,” she added.
Parker has been married to actor Matthew Broderick for eight years, and they have a 3-year-old son with whom she spends her non-working days. Parker said she can’t remember walking into a situation like Meredith’s.
Then, upon reflection she adds, “I was probably in the restroom when they were talking about me.”
It is “Family Stone” that has people talking now. Chicago Sun-Times critic Richard Roeper said the film should not be overlooked amid all the hype for big-budget holiday fare like “King Kong” and the latest “Harry Potter” movie.
Parker, who won U.S. television’s top honor, the Emmy, for Carrie Bradshaw, is being talked about as a potential award winner too But she is characteristically humble when discussing them.
“It’s very enjoyable, to some degree, to get caught up in it because frankly it’s very flattering. On the other hand, I have a very philosophical attitude for it ... We made this movie and had this amazing experience. Now we’re going to turn it over, and people will actually tell us how we did,” she said.