Menu HBO Connect
  • Ask
  • Happening now
  • Answered

Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church Talk Divorce

Sarah Jessica Parker

Celebrated actor and producer in television, film and theater, Sarah Jessica Parker is the star and executive producer of the new HBO original series, "Divorce." A dark comedy about a marriage gone off the tracks, "Divorce" premiered October 9 — more than a decade after the finale of her long-lived HBO hit, "Sex and the City." Parker has won four Golden Globe, three SAG and two Emmy Awards.

Thomas Haden Church

Acclaimed actor Thomas Haden Church currently stars in the HBO series, "Divorce" and has recently been seen in the film "Cardboard Boxer" as the character, “Willie.” Church first gained prominence for his role as “Lowell Mather” on the long-running NBC series "Wings." In 2004, Church starred in Alex Payne’s critically acclaimed film "Sideways" for which he earned an Academy Award nomination. Recently, Church has been seen in "Lucky Them" opposite Toni Collette, "Max" opposite Lauren Graham, and "Heaven Is For Real" based on the best-selling book of the same name.

The Live Q&A has ended.

  • What was the very first scene you shot together for the show? How many takes did it take?

    • 0 votes
    Sarah Jessica Parker

    The first thing we shot together, I think, was our entrance to the party. That was fairly straightforward, except there was strange choreography because of that tight stairwell. We weren’t really looking at Diane when we said, “happy birthday!” We were shooting a lot of smaller pieces until we got to the big chunky, meaty stuff.

  • The chemistry of the characters on this show is impeccable; what is the dynamic off-set?

    • 0 votes
    Thomas Haden Church

    There’s times I didn’t see Molly [Shannon], Tracy [Letts], or Talia [Balsam] for a while while filming, and every time I see them, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy being with them. It all started for me with Sarah Jessica. She comes to set with such a great, cheerful energy and such a profound precision in storytelling and understanding character. It really started with her and the dynamic that she brings.

  • Did you plan to have fans go back and forth about their hate/love for Robert and Frances?

    • 0 votes
    Sarah Jessica Parker

    We didn’t plan it, but we assumed that if the writing was good and those characters had a chance to tell their stories in relation to how this marriage finds itself at this point, that people would feel—for lack of a better word—alliances. The more that’s revealed about these two grown-ups, the more you can find yourself feeling empathy or sympathy. These conversations aren’t so black and white. There are many shades of grey and both parties are complicit in what has gone wrong.

  • Were either of you concerned at all on how to make this concept funny? Was the humor laid out in the scripts or did adlibs save the day?

    • 0 votes
    Thomas Haden Church

    I don’t know that the comedy was laid out, necessarily. To me, the comedy came out in absurd situations—the awkwardness or emotional disarray of what the characters are slowly being dragged through.

  • How is it for SJP to work with THC? His lines are absolutely hilarious and his delivery is so deadpan. Does it take many takes to get through your scenes w him?

    • 1 vote
    Sarah Jessica Parker

    YES! It required many takes. I love working with him; it’s a complete delight, thrill and gift—there were times when I just had to apologize, stop and try to pull myself together. It’s terrifying in the moment; it causes such enormous anxiety to be on the edge of laughter. But to look back at it, that experience was so joyful. It’s a total privilege.

  • Which scene was the most challenging to film?

    • 0 votes
    Sarah Jessica Parker

    The first Nick and Diane scene [Diane’s birthday party] was tough because there were so many people to to film, and it was a very long process. Unless I’m reinventing history—we started in the middle of the day and ended at two in the morning.

  • For THC: Same question.

    • 0 votes
    Thomas Haden Church

    We filmed in a pretty small house. Like Sarah Jessica said, the table was really long and it took an immense amount of coverage to film. Because we were surrounded by glass [windows] on three sides, we’d have to constantly be aware of reflections with lights and crew. It was difficult, but ultimately those scenes are significant in launching the tone of the show.

  • Ms. Parker, how was your experience producing and developing this show as well as the creative process of creating the character of Frances?

    • 1 vote
    Sarah Jessica Parker

    It’s been an amazing experience. We started working on this show about four years ago and it’s been through many versions of itself. We had so many great partners, Thomas among them, so it’s been deeply satisfying. It doesn’t mean that we didn’t face and overcome a lot of obstacles, as one does, but I love this character; she’s the first woman that to me is as interesting, complicated and full of potential as Carrie Bradshaw.

  • I love the character of Robert! Where do you get your inspiration from?

    • 0 votes
    Thomas Haden Church

    The life of his mind is imagined largely by me, based upon the material that I’m given. At my age, there’s so many people I know that have gone through divorce, and I probably drew upon a lot of what I’ve observed. It’s just all in there. That is part of that mechanism of a guy going through an ostensibly terrible event—how is he going to get out of each day with some dignity and sensitivity?