Sarah Jessica Parker: “We don’t have any live-in help, we’re hands-on parents”


Yesterday, I covered the first excerpts from Sarah Jessica Parker’s Vogue cover profile for the August issue. The problem I have with SJP is that the more she talks, the more I dislike her. If she keeps quiet, and I’m just looking at photos of her, I usually have affection for her. In this case, the photo shoot is pissing me off as much as the interview. Vogue and other fashion magazines have the nasty little habit of using small children in their photo shoots. It’s not a simple matter of photographing kids – it’s that the kids are often used as “props” or “accessories” in the fashion shoot. Such it is with this SJP shoot – I’m guessing that Testino shot SJP in her home, with her kids and her husband, but that Anna Wintour didn’t just want “candid”-type photos of a realistic family. Instead, SJP is all dolled up to the nines, standing amongst the “prop” messy house, messy babies, etc. Also: considering that SJP is promoting a film about “the myth” of a woman having it all, it seems hypocritical that the photo shoot merely reinforces the myth. You can read the whole Vogue piece here, and here are some additional highlights that I haven’t covered already:

On the paparazzi, fame and why she‘ll never move away from NYC: The paparazzi may stalk her every single time she walks James Wilkie to school or takes the girls out—“They follow every move I make until I’m back inside the house”—but she refuses to withdraw. “You do start to understand the behind-the-gate mentality, the getting in the car in your driveway,” she says as she pours herself tea, “but I can’t imagine living in seclusion. We flirted with it. We went outside the city and troubled all these Realtors and stood in these homes and fantasized, and then I kept picturing nine o’clock at night and”—she breaks into mime, drumming her fingers on her crossed knees and staring into the middle distance. “The beautiful thing about New York is, you have to expose yourself to other people the minute you step outside the door. There is no choice. And I love that.” Plus, of course, there’s the cultural life. Broderick, a born-and-bred New Yorker, works mostly on Broadway. Next spring he will star in Nice Work if You Can Get It, directed by Kathleen Marshall. As for Parker, “If I didn’t have kids,” she says, “I would be at the theater or the ballet every single night of my life.”

Borrowing beautiful clothes, like vintage McQueen: “I love the opportunity to wear something really special and go to a wonderful event at some great cultural institution,” she says. “Not to sound too Pollyanna about it, but I really didn’t imagine when I was a little girl that I would be there to see it all myself.”

On-Set, first week jitters and Pierce Brosnan: “I lose my appetite,” she says. “By Wednesday of the first week on I Don’t Know How She Does It, I was sobbing, I was apologizing. I was feeling so awful and ashamed, like I had let the director down. If only they would not tell me when the camera was running, I would be OK. I’m like that two weeks into every movie. But the beauty of nerves is that you can always find a comrade in it. When Pierce came”—Pierce Brosnan plays her colleague and potential romantic interest—“he was a nervous wreck! Of course, by then I was really relaxed, but I was so comforted by it.” Even James Bond gets the jitters.

The end of her own Sex & the City experience: Parker knew it was time to move on. The 20-hour days on set, during which she also worked as producer, were no longer viable once she became a mother. “It wasn’t hard when I didn’t have children,” she says. “I loved it. But I ultimately chose to stop doing the television series because I felt like it required, and deserved, a lot of time when I really wanted to be a parent.” Also, she says, circumstances had changed. “It was such a different time in the city, culturally, socially, economically . . . the kind of liberty that Carrie Bradshaw had. You couldn’t start off with a story like that today.”

Her crazy schedule: “It’s a pretty simple setup,” she says of the domestic situation she shares with her husband, Matthew Broderick. There’s a nanny for their toddler twins, Loretta and Tabitha, and someone else to help with the logistics of eight-year-old James Wilkie’s schedule. “We don’t have any live-in help. We’re pretty hands-on parents. That’s something that’s important to both of us, and we don’t shirk it, because what’s the point in having a family if you’re not going to really participate in it, you know?” For now, she schedules her meetings after walking James Wilkie to school but tries to be home after the twins’ afternoon nap. “I feel like if I’m only missing up until 3:30, when they wake up, that’s not so awful.” She doesn’t use a cell phone, except in emergencies; for her it’s e-mail or texts, “otherwise it’s one more thing I’m trying to keep up with.”

The twins: After her much-publicized struggles with fertility, Parker had her daughters via a surrogate, and, in their white sandals, slightly outgrown smock dresses, and hair ribbons, they couldn’t be more adorable. Loretta is bigger and fairer than Tabitha, who is tiny and olive-skinned, with enormous brown eyes. “Tabitha’s very, very outgoing, but physically she’s very shy,” says Parker. “She shakes in elevators; it’s very sweet, like Bambi. And then Loretta is pale, like my husband, with piercing blue eyes. But she’s physically bold.” Watching them, she marvels at how they could be so different and yet so recognizably related. “I think it’s funny how much she looks like my husband,” she says of Tabitha. “Except then I look at Loretta and she has my husband’s mouth and sort of sad eyes, you know the kind that go down? The Broderick eyes. They both really look like him.”

Being an older parent: “I guess I think there are things about it that I hope have made me a better mother,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do the things that I wanted to do, like sleep. I have slept till 11:00 for a lot of years. Honestly, the only thing that I’m concerned about is the energy: I hope I can maintain the energy. I think about all the years I’ve spent parenting James Wilkie and everything I put into it, and there are two of them.”

[From Vogue]

At the end of the day, I think I’m consistently put off by SJP because she’s just one of those women who are self-perpetuating hurricanes of multi-tasking, and I just don’t see how she finds the time to do any of it, or understand WHY she feels the need to wear so many hats when she could just sit down, calm down and focus on one thing at a time, which is my general approach to life (“Slow and steady wins the race” is one of my favorite sayings). I don’t even have kids, and some days I’m so busy that I skip taking a shower. So how does SJP do it? I have no idea. THAT should be the point of the film and the press for the film – that SJP is just a woman on the verge, like me and like so many of us. But that’s not SJP’s message, at least that’s not the way I’m reading it. Her message seems to be: “See a movie where I play a woman who juggles everything in her life, often unsuccessfully, but in real life I have it all and then some.” It’s off-putting.





Photos courtesy of Testino/Vogue, slideshow here.

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42 Responses to “Sarah Jessica Parker: “We don’t have any live-in help, we’re hands-on parents””

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  1. Sue says:

    I’m confused….. she doesn’t use a cellphone except for emergencies, but she texts? Isn’t that using a cellphone?

  2. Shay says:

    “We don’t have any live-in help…we’re hands on parents…”

    B (cough-cough)ullshit!

  3. Flan says:

    Not difficult if your career is already behind you.

  4. Daphne says:

    I think the PR message these Hollywood people try to create (Brangelina, Gyneth Paltrow, now SJP) by saying that they don’t have help is to say: Don’t hate us if we have a perfect life because we simply work harder!

    However in the end it annoys the audience because what does it mean? “I” don’t work hard enough?

    They should really change their PR strategy.

  5. locamochagirl says:

    I thought her other kid’s name was Marion?

  6. Dana M says:

    I love the photo shoot. Having all white rooms with kids is dangerous. Is that really do-able with children? Mmmm

  7. Vickyb says:

    In the second picture she’s wearing the horrible dress that Emma Watson just wore (incidentally, I think the cut of the bodice and the use of linen is really beautiful – but tacking on the falling down curtains of a local embassy is just yucky).

    But, I have to say, I love the rest of the styling and I love the photos.
    I still love her, which I’m sure is a hangover from my Sex and the City love. But I do understand her thing about fitting it all in – what you have to make things work, you make it work. It might you’re pretty frazzled, you don’t have much time to yourself, you skip a shower, but you find a way to get it done. I’d imagine that three beautiful children and a well-paid job are pretty good motivators for doing it all.

  8. katnip says:


    I never heard them all say they didn’t have help. We see pictures of help in photos. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having help if you can afford it. Why that pisses people off is WOW. Lots of working women have help. Daycare, Nannies, housekeepers, babysitters, neighbors, grandparents or friends.

    Lots of everyday women employ help.

    I guess people get mad because these people have millions of dollars.

  9. Christine says:

    She admits they have a nanny for the twins, and a caretaker for James. Then she says in the next sentence that they are hands on parents. Ummm, you don’t actually have a job every day, but you have 2 nannies for 3 kids. That’s a hands-on parent?

  10. says:

    In the 2nd picture, isn’t SJP wearing Emma Watson’s god-awful dress that she wore at the NYC premiere of the new Harry Potter movie?

  11. spinner says:

    How pretentious. UGH!!

  12. Mairead says:

    I’m kind of underwhelmed by the photoshoot. Gods of Art forgive me, but I preferred Brad Pitt’s photos in that (infamous) W magazine shoot. I’m getting increasingly unimpressed by Mario Testino in any event. His portrait style in the 90s was great and really of the zeitgeist. But now, his technique is a little overexposed and bland, and those royal portraits actually looked out of focus!

    On SJP, I’m kind of with you K on the whole “the more you hear the real her, the less you like her thing”. She seemed lovely and adorable to me until I watched Who Do You Think You Are? where she came off as a complete airhead. In comparison to Matthew Broderick who was articulate and sweet (and weirdly delicate).

  13. says:

    She positions her feet the exact same way in every picture! Does she not know any other way of posing?

  14. mln76 says:

    Ugh I’m so sick of the mommy police who sit on the sidelines and count nannies as if the prescense or lack of childcare actually proves something. SJP shouldn’t feel the need to prove the amount of time by the milisecond she spends w/her kids.

  15. Cherry says:

    @13. iwantshoes: yeah, I noticed that too! It’s strangely irritating when you look at the pics. Makes her look so strange and artificial, like she was photoshopped into the rest of the image.

  16. Liz says:

    Um, dahling – don’t even attempt to make yourself like the public, you have help with all of your spawn and there is no denying normal no-so-privileged people have to juggle more things than you do because there is no other way.

  17. hnicole says: I noticed that too! Odd when you consider that’s what Emma wore to the New York premier that SJP attended

  18. anjessa says:

    “Nice Work if You Can Get It” are also Matthew Broderick’s thoughts on his movie career…

  19. Patricia says:

    What an idiot – milk it honey – it’s slipping away fast

  20. REALIST says:

    I have two boys and I am “hands on”. But I can’t cook anything but pizza and bacon related items and spaghetti-what they want and what I have regressed to- and my condo looks like a pig lives in it. My mother always said, “Get help!” but I am a grad student, and I have no alimony or child support (split custody-WA State is weird about child support), so I have no $$$.
    Betcha SJP has a housekeeper and at least a part time cook/shopper/errand runner. Just because the minions don’t “live in” doesn’t mean they don’t work hard during the day.

  21. ladybert62 says:

    Yea right – hands on parents with no help! Sure, Sure! I dont believe it for a minute and by the way, please clean your house if you are so hands on – it is quite a mess and probably unhealthy as well.

  22. Ally says:

    It sounds like maybe they did use donor eggs, too. All she talks about is the twins looking like Matthew Broderick. And the writer throwing in “olive-skinned” seems loaded, too.

    The photos are gorgeous and smartly staged, if envy-producing. Looks like a (well adjusted) Pete and Trudy – of Mad Men – getting ready for dinner.

  23. RHONYC says:

    that pic with her hands over her ears is ‘exactly’ how i feel about her interviews. 🙁

  24. mary jones says:

    She is ugly and it always annoyed me that Sex and The City always portrayed her as some sexy siren.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Wink wink…………….. liezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  26. sandy#1 says:

    these pictures reminds me of brad Pitt’s with Angelina and that spread, where is the originally?, copied dress?

  27. Melissa says:

    Were these pictures really taken in her apartment? If so, you’re not supposed to put 2-year olds in bunk beds! I’m sure they have the money – get a bigger place so each twin can have their bed on the floor.

  28. Muttus says:

    Staff let themselves in at 7:30 am and leave at 8:00 pm.

    Babysitters or second shift helps in the evening. Housekeeper/cook/personal assistants….

    She and her darling husband have their heads shoved so far up their…

  29. jensational says:

    i absolutely HATE this photo shoot! UGH! Except I loved seeing how big and handsome James Wilkie is gorowing up. The twins are cute. the pics of SJP are just too much for me to stomach. i used to like her but now she’s way too new york socialitey.

  30. Hautie says:

    I love that yellow suit. Love the black and white suit too!

    And I am thrilled to see that she is wearing great heels. Or should I say, flattering heels.

    I am so sick of those odd tragic looking, epic level platforms that Victoria Beckham is still stomping around in. Which I am sorry to say, still look like you ought to be dancing topless, while wearing them.

    I am so ready for women’s clothes to be beautiful again. I want to see great two piece suits like the ones SJP is wearing in this layout.

    And to have really great looking heels.

    Instead of all the over the top hooker look, that have been prevalent for the last 5 years.

    Ohhhh… and that is the first time I have seen Matthew hold a smile, that look genuine, in a long time.

  31. Jennifer says:

    She’s Bree Van de Kamp.

  32. Larissa says:

    I thought that pic of one of the twins being kissed and the other sitting alone on the sofa soooo SAD. Why ?????????
    And the girls are below the recommended age to have the littlest pet shop stuff, and definetely too young for bunk beds and a laptop! ha
    But I do like the aesthetics of it.

  33. Adilys says:

    yeah, it used to be Marion and Tabitha. Now it’s Loretta and Tabitha. Must have switched to middle name or something.

  34. KateNonymous says:

    So, she doesn’t think that Carrie’s lifestyle would work with the economy today? Sounds like a great idea for a movie, instead of the two she made.

    And I really don’t think that having a nanny means you’re not hands-on. But I also don’t need her to try to justify it.

    I thought she did a better job after James Wilkie was born, when she basically said that she was lucky to be able to afford resources that she knew not everyone could, and that she didn’t think people on regular incomes should have to compare themselves to people on celebrity incomes. That was much more honest and compassionate.

    Re: the names–“Marion Loretta Elwell” and “Tabitha Hodge.” Have we heard her refer to Loretta as Marion in the past, or have they always called her Loretta and the press has used Marion by default?

  35. Camille says:

    I agree with everything you said Kaiser. SJP drives me up the wall.

  36. bugsy says:

    I’m not against nannies but come on. I totally agree with Kaiser. When they try to pass themselves off as “normal women who were born with such great looks and epic lifestyles of fancy” it gets really revolting. Sure, have a nanny. Have six. I don’t care. But don’t pretend you’re parenting those children. Parenting means taking care of them when they’re good, bad and in-between. It develops one’s character to take care of your children when it isn’t convenient. Anyone with this sort of lifestyle has NO IDEA what it’s like to be a normal mother. Even a normal mother who uses a nanny. Most non-celebrity mothers use a nanny or a day-care during the day so they can go bust their ass from 8 to 5 (or longer) to put food on the table. Celebrity moms don’t need nannies every day. They’d need them during the day while they’re shooting or promoting a movie. But come on. How many months out of the year are they actually working those schedules? Celebrity moms have nannies to do the busy work that regular moms do every day. The cooking, the cleaning, the changing, the feeding. It’s nothing like the rest of the planet. And it’s insulting. What’s really scary is that a lot of celebrity moms actually THINK that their way of life is normal. It’s what allows them to visit third-world countries and then return home to their uber-rich society. They seem to think that there are only two classes of people: the super rich and the destitute. It not only shows in these types of interviews and photo spreads, but in their political soundbytes as well. Ugh.

  37. bugsy says:

    I would also like to add that, imo, “Tabitha Hodge” is a name more appropriate for a 90 year old cat lady.

  38. KateNonymous says:

    Maybe, but every 90-year-old cat lady was once a 2-year-old.

  39. Kim says:

    To me – really participating in a family doesnt include a nanny, an assistant and being away from my kids for long periods of time/months because i am off filming a movie — but thats just me.

  40. Louiset says:

    Considering that nobody knows these people it’s really over the top to claim they spend a minute a day with their kids just because they have a nanny. There’s no reason to assume that celebrities are bad, neglectful parents. I think that’s why celebrities always say they are hands on parents.

  41. Violet says:

    So, let me get this straight: SJP prides herself on being a “hands-on” parent, but she admits that she

    a) has a nanny for the twins
    b) has someone to help with her son
    c) recently went two months without seeing her kids at all (the twins are just babies, so SJP must have the maternal instincts of a block of wood to be able to do that)

    What a delusional and thoroughly shallow cow. I get the sense that SJP had the kids primarily to salvage her marriage, as well as use as props.

    Insult to injury, by pretending to juggle career and family, she makes ordinary woman feel inadequate. The reality is that career comes first for SJP, and she has staff to deal with her family.

  42. Rog says:

    “We don’t have any live-in help, we’re hands-on parents”

    I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want her hands on me.

    Is it any wonder that poor Matthew Broderick has looked so damn miserable everytime he’s been photographed in public with SJP recently?