Among the frenetic energy of New York, everyone has a personal story to tell, one filled with mundane moments and tragedy. In the drama “Here and Now,” Sarah Jessica Parker plays Vivienne, an accomplished singer who has hit her 25th year as a recording artist. A feat for anyone in the recording industry, it’s not something she can celebrate as she’s just received the grim news her time may be cut short from a life-threatening illness.
The film shows a snapshot of a day in the life as she begins to go through some choices she’s made in her life, while she prepares for what might be her penultimate performance. For Parker, it’s a fresh performance in a story that seems familiar.
Sarah Jessica Parker sat down with amNewYork at the “Watch What Happens Live” studios to discuss the film, which opens on Friday at City Cinemas Beekman Theatre and will also be available on demand and digital.
New York is one of the only places where you can go through a whole range of emotions in public and no one will bat an eye.
We see it all the time. I feel like I’m always seeing something deeply personal happening next to me or around me. I love that and what I liked about this city at this time is that, so many times I’ve worked here, especially on “Sex and the City” the city was really aspirational. It was a place that kept on offering potential and promise and it gave Carrie so much. This film has a relationship to this city, where I think [my character] Vivienne, feels like it has betrayed her. The city has been a source of disappointment and frustration, it’s taken more than it’s given. I liked that there are eight million stories in this city, and there are lots more to tell.
As a performer, how was it to be present in that environment?
I loved it. It made me think, “Well, how much time do we really need to shoot a movie?” — sincerely. How much money do you really need? Sure, there’s much to be said for having more than $2 million and 16 days but I don’t know if I want a whole lot more than that because it just focuses the work so much. You know everyone is there because they want to be. So for me, at that stage when we were boarding “Sex and the City 3” and I was on the phone with my producing partners on that, talking about all of these schedules, and I thought, “We don’t need it. I know we’re not going to do that on that movie.” I think it was important for me to see how satisfying it could be.
The film reminded me of Agnès Varda’s “Cléo 5 to 7” in that here is a woman with this death sentence hanging over her, and for most of the film she’s ruminating among the chaos of her surroundings. Structurally, was that something that pulled you toward the story?
Definitely. Obviously, [director] Fabien [Constant] is French and is so influenced by many French filmmakers and important French cinema and that’s why the ambient sound plays such a huge part in this movie. It’s mixed so differently because we wanted the city to be present like that and that’s one of the many things that was interesting to me about it.
Birdland Jazz Club is such a gorgeous venue and it’s on full display in the film. How was shooting there?
It’s so nice. She has these moments with certain people that, on her behalf, I was so grateful that she had that gentleman there who really enjoyed her as an artist. He liked her work, he felt confident in her career, and he could count on her as a person in his life. There’s so much that you know she’s been reckless about but there are also people that hold her in high regard and are kind to her. I loved doing those scenes.
There’s this scene in the film where Vivienne is sitting down with a reporter who’s completely disengaged and Vivienne is speaking about really personal work. Have you dealt with something like that while going through a press day?
I have just in the same way you’ve perhaps dealt with a subject that didn’t seem particularly interested. In that case, I think, part of the problem was that this journalist was young and doesn’t really know about Vivienne’s work and doesn’t really understand what 25 years means as a recording artist. Also, because Vivienne doesn’t have a ton of Instagram followers, she’s probably not as meaningful to this journalist. So, I think the timing is especially poor because Vivienne is already feeling — she’s questioning her value as a performer, she’s unclear about where she stands in her profession. So, there is every strife against that poor journalist walking into the room and she’s just ill-equipped to write that preconceived idea but she just doesn’t help herself either.
Before we wrap, “Hocus Pocus” is played during this time of year, and there was news about a possible reboot. What do you make of it all?
I think it’s great. Why shouldn’t someone else have the chance? I’m all for them doing it. I’ve only seen it once so I remember the experience of shooting the movie more than I do the plot, at this point, but I think when you make a movie for almost six months the experience is what I can talk about more so, but I would be delighted if someone else gets to play that part.