Inside Sarah Jessica Parker And Matthew Broderick’s Relationship

Sarah Jessica Parker is known for playing one of television’s most fabulous single ladies on “Sex and the City.” When Carrie Bradshaw wasn’t busy salivating over stilettos or sipping on cosmos, she was striving to find love among the seemingly limitless options offered by her urban life. However, while Carrie was praying that Mr. Big would come to his senses and end her search for Mr. Right, Parker was happily married to a man who didn’t string her along for years before popping the question: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” star Matthew Broderick.

Both halves of this A-list couple were in a few high-profile relationships before they found each other. Parker dated Robert Downey Jr. for seven years, but in a 1992 interview with The New York Times, she credited her much shorter relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr. for introducing her to “real fame.” Broderick’s famous girlfriends included the actor who played his sister on “Ferris Bueller,” Jennifer Grey, but their romance ended not long after a terrible tragedy. He also dated Helen Hunt, who he would end up filming sex scenes with him two decades later.

Parker and Broderick tied the knot in 1997 after dating for five years, and they’ve since had three children together. Here’s a look inside the couple’s marriage, which is notable in Hollywood for its longevity.

Matthew Broderick met Sarah Jessica Parker through her brothers

One thing Sarah Jessica Parker has in common with Carrie Bradshaw is her love affair with New York City. However, she seems to be fonder of the lights of Broadway than the clothing racks at Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman. In fact, it was Parker and her siblings’ love of the stage that brought her and Matthew Broderick together.

The couple had two very different upbringings. According to Parade, the Ohio-born SJP and her seven siblings were raised by her schoolteacher mother and her stepfather. The family eventually relocated to New York. Matthew, on the other hand, was born and raised in Manhattan. His mother was a playwright and painter, while his father, James Broderick, was an actor whose credits included the TV series “Family” and Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon.”

Sarah Jessica Parker found success on Broadway at an early age when she was cast as the lead in “Annie” in 1979. As The New York Times recounted, her brothers Toby Parker and Pippin Parker co-founded the Naked Angels theater company years, and Broderick became friends with the siblings after directing Toby in one of the company’s productions. He was introduced to Parker through her brothers in 1991, but it was months before he asked her out on a proper date — via answering machine. “Then he left a very charming, very self-effacing message on the machine,” Parker recalled during a joint NYT interview with Broderick in 1996. “You know, ‘Hi, it’s Matthew Broderick.’ You had to use your last name.”

Sarah Jessica Parker has a major wedding regret

In the first “Sex and the City” movie, Carrie Bradshaw almost gets married in an extravagant Vivienne Westwood confection. However, Mr. Big’s reservations about a big wedding leave her groom-less. Later on, she weds him at City Hall in a simple, non-label suit.

When Sarah Jessica Parker married Matthew Broderick in 1997, she also made an unconventional wedding attire choice. As Brides recalled, she donned a black Morgane Le Fay gown with a ruffled skirt. While the pick was very Carrie, it’s one that the actor regrets. “I was too embarrassed to get married in white, and both Matthew and I were reluctant to have people pay so much attention to us,” she told Marie Claire in 2006. “Which is ridiculous, because that’s when you can relish the attention, when it’s natural.”

The couple didn’t let the attendees know it was a wedding ahead of time. “We treated it like it was a big party on a Monday night, and I regret it,” Parker said in Marie Claire.

If she could do it all over again, she knows exactly what she’d wear. “If I were getting married today, I’d likely wear cream, just to have that bridal experience,” she told Martha Stewart in 2015. “Now I would want my dress to have an Oscar de la Renta feel, pockets below the waist, a very fitted bodice, a huge skirt, in taffeta or duchesse satin.”

Robert Downey Jr. is a big fan of the pair

In 1991, Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey Jr. broke up after nearly eight years together. They’ve both said Downey Jr.’s addiction to drugs and alcohol is what made Parker decide to leave. Downey Jr. never bore any ill will toward his ex, and in 2014, he even told radio host Howard Stern that he was interested in reconnecting with Parker while he was in New York. “I’ll ask (her husband’s) permission. I just want to check in for a few minutes,” he said, according to Hello!. “I love Matthew Broderick.”

Not long after the Stern interview, Us Weekly saved Downey Jr. the trouble of reaching out to his ex’s husband by asking Broderick what he thought about the proposal. “Of course, he’s more than [okay to connect with her] — they’re great friends!” he said. “What would I say? No? Who do you think I am? No, I love Robert Downey and Sarah Jessica Parker so [yes!]”

Parker was also on board with the idea, and the meet up actually happened in 2015. “Seeing her I was like, ‘She’s so great and so cool and so funny and so in-command,'” Downey Jr. later told Stern (via Closer Weekly). He also said that he met Parker and Broderick’s children, and he gushed about how much he respects the couple. As for Parker, she told Stern that their meetup was “surprisingly not weird” (via Yahoo! Entertainment).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Kristin Davis sought Sarah Jessica Parker's blessing before taking this merry role

Sometimes onscreen pairings can be excruciatingly awkward; former lovers occasionally reunite to film movies together, and co-stars find that feigning intimacy with one another is almost unbearable. However, Kristin Davis did her part to make sure that playing Matthew Broderick’s wife in “Deck the Halls” wouldn’t be an uncomfortable experience by reaching out to Sarah Jessica Parker before accepting the role.

According to Access Hollywood, Davis sent an email to her “Sex and the City” co-star asking her “if it was OK” if she played Broderick’s spouse in the holiday comedy. How very Charlotte of her.

Parker not only gave Davis the green light, but didn’t set “any restrictions on what she could or couldn’t do.” However, Parker didn’t have to worry about her husband filming any racy love scenes with her “SATC” costar, much to Broderick’s relief. “I have known Kristin for a long time and it was easy working with her because it wasn’t a big romantic movie, that might have been different,” he told Cinema. Broderick has said that he’s not a big fan of shooting sex scenes, telling Parade that the experience is “nerve-wracking.”

Hugh Grant fell for Sarah Jessica Parker while they worked together

While speaking to Parade, Matthew Broderick noted that his wife has filmed a lot more love scenes than he has. During her 2001 Golden Globes acceptance speech, Sarah Jessica Parker jokingly thanked him for having “the courage to let me work with the likes of Chris Noth and John Slattery and John Corbett.”

One of Parker’s leading men confessed to crushing on her pretty hard. In 2009, British actor Hugh Grant told The Daily Star that she would make “a very good wife.” “She’s very caring,” he stated. “She lives in her own little world and I have literally fallen in love with her.”

Parker also had nothing but nice things to say about her “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” co-star. “He’s a definition for all of us less well-travelled Americans of the classic literary and cinematic Englishman – witty and brainy,” she told Daily Mail. “There’s nothing smarter and sexier and more interesting than a brain, and I’m very excited about working with him.”

Parker’s deep love for Broderick aside, her husband had nothing to worry about — it turned out that Parker was not a fan of Grant’s personal hygiene. As she recalled to Extra, while they were filming together, she discovered that he had “nails that looked like he clipped them with his teeth,” and they bothered her so much that she began giving him weekly manicures herself.

A magazine's cruel survey affected Matthew Broderick

While some of Hollywood’s hottest leading men have found Sarah Jessica Parker desirable, a mean-spirited 2008 Maxim magazine poll found that its readers considered her the “unsexiest woman alive.” According to the New York Post, the publication cruelly compared Parker to a racehorse.

Parker described the poll as “brutal” while speaking to Grazia (via Daily Mail). She also revealed how Matthew Broderick felt about it. “It upset him, because it has to do with his judgment too,” she stated. “It’s condemnation, it’s insane.” She said that she’s well aware that her appearance might not fit “the ideals and standards of some men writing in a men’s magazine,” pointing out that she does not have “big fake boobs, Botox and big lips.”

On a sweeter note, the one man who matters most considered Parker a catch before he even knew her, so surely a lad mag poll didn’t sway his personal opinion of her. Reminiscing to Parade about seeing his future wife in “L.A. Story,” Broderick said, “I remember thinking she was wonderful, hilarious and beautiful.” 

Sarah Jessica Parker saw Ferris Bueller with another actor

Sarah Jessica Parker also remembers seeing her future spouse on the silver screen. During a 2005 interview with SFGate, she was asked how old she was when she first saw Matthew Broderick charm moviegoers and almost everyone onscreen in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” She didn’t divulge her age at the time, but she did say that she was on a date with a guy and a female third wheel. While speaking to Parade in 2020, Parker identified her female friend as actor Martha Plimpton. Parker recalled to SFGate that she covered everyone’s tickets, including her date’s. “I never considered for a moment that I’d be married to that charismatic, funny, adorable actor,” she said of Broderick. 

Parker saw a lot of Broderick’s early work, including the 1985 fantasy film “Ladyhawke” and the 1983 sci-fi classic “WarGames.” Around that time, as she told People, she “fell in love with Chris Penn” while working with him on “Footloose.” Her heart ended up getting broken, but life moved pretty fast, and it wouldn’t be long before Broderick swept her off her feet. “He grew up beautifully. I’m very proud of the man Ferris Bueller became. Very proud,” Parker told CBS News in 2004.

Sarah Jessica Parker is all about spending time apart

Sarah Jessica Parker subscribes to the belief that absence makes the heart grow fonder. During a 2018 episode of Girlboss Radio hosted by Sophia Amoruso, she explained why she thinks that it’s healthy for spouses to do their own thing for a while so that they can later reconnect. “His work life takes him here, and mine takes me there,” she said (via Entertainment Tonight). “In some ways, I think that that’s been enormously beneficial because we have so much to share in a way.”

And let’s just be honest — husbands and wives tend to get on each other’s nerves sometimes. However, when those breaks are over, both Parker and Broderick seem to agree that communication is key. When he appeared on the “Meredith Vieira Show” in 2014, Broderick shared that he and his wife “talk a lot” (via E! News). “Too much silence is definitely not a good idea,” he said. To keep the conversation flowing, Parker peppers her partner with questions. “I’m sure I annoy him and he annoys me, but I literally learn about him every day,” she told People in 2018. “I’m like, ‘You’re doing what? You’re reading what?'” Interestingly, one topic the couple avoids is their marriage. “There are so many other things in our lives that take precedence over the splitting of the atom of our marriage,” Parker said in Marie Claire in 2011.

Sarah Jessica Parker thinks hate is key in a marriage

Sarah Jessica Parker might believe that it is unwise to speak about one’s marriage, but she sees nothing wrong with holding mini marital grudges. In 2011, she revealed to Bang Showbiz that she allows herself up to “20 minutes a day” to loathe her husband (via Yahoo! News). As long as both parties eventually work things out and come to an understanding, she believes that being in a relationship is even worth enduring 48 hours of bad feelings. “It’s all about compromises. You can hate somebody for 20 minutes or two days, but it’s still a treat to be in a relationship, if that’s the person you want to be with,” she stated.

When radio host Ryan Seacrest later brought up her comments, she elaborated on her view. “I think that’s healthy and I think it’s realistic,” she said, according to Daily Mail. “Some people have it down to 20 minutes a week. Other unfortunate people have it down to 20 minutes per hour.” Luckily, she and Broderick do not fall in the latter category. In fact, she revealed that she has been able to avoid her allotted “20 minutes of bitterness” for days on end.

The couple survived an affair rumor

In 2008, Sarah Jessica Parker’s refreshing honesty about her marriage was used to help build a narrative that she and her husband were on the outs. According to Fox News, a rumor that Matthew Broderick was having an affair originated in Star magazine. In an article about the piece of gossip, the Daily Mail included past quotes from Parker saying that she and Broderick have endured some “rather treacherous train rides” and that she is certain there are times when her husband “wishes he wasn’t with me.”

The Star story alleged that Broderick was cheating on his wife with a 25-year-old youth counselor while Parker was filming the “Sex and the City” movie. According to the Mail, one source said that Broderick and Parker were no longer in love and were simply staying together for the sake of their son, James Wilkie. However, another source claimed that the couple hated the “silly gossip” about their relationship and said that, while their marriage is unconventional, it works for them.

Broderick’s rep refused to comment on the rumor. However, a year later, the same rep did deny the reports suggesting that Broderick and Parker were divorcing, telling ABC News they were “ludicrous and untrue.” The couple clearly survived the tabloid tide turning against them, and their love story continued. “We can only be in the marriage we are,” Parker told Harper’s Bazaar in 2013. “We’re very devoted to our family and our lives. I love our life.”

The couple values 'family and ritual'

As Sarah Jessica Parker said in “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish,” she has a Jewish father and Matthew Broderick’s mother is Jewish. However, in an excerpt from the 2005 book, Parker confessed that she doesn’t know a lot about Judaism, and she said that her husband’s Jewish identity is “much more political for him.” She recalled him once telling her that they could not have a mezuzah in their home because they are “not practicing Jews.”

In the aforementioned book, Parker shared that she believes in a higher power and that her husband is also “deeply religious.” However, she said that he’s “cynical about it because he’s seen that it can be so harmful and hurtful and destructive.” She divulged that she and Broderick were conflicted about their son’s religious education — Parker thought that he should learn about his options, while Broderick wasn’t certain what he wanted.

Parker revealed that her family celebrates Christmas, but in a secular way. “It’s about family and ritual — the same things that I respond to in being a Jew,” she said. Broderick shares her fondness for Christmas, which he described as their “winter family holiday.” He also practices one Jewish ritual during the holiday season — or he makes an attempt to, at least. “We don’t know how to do Hanukah really! We get the candles out and do our best,” he told Cinema.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick waited to talk money

In a 2000 New York Times interview, Sarah Jessica Parker revealed that she and Matthew Broderick did not share their bank accounts at the beginning of their marriage. She explained that she didn’t want her husband to feel as if he had “to take a job because he thinks he has to support [her].” She also said she did not know how much money Broderick had. “It is not what keeps me interested in him,” she stated.

The couple didn’t have children at the time, and Parker explained to NYT that their finances would become “communal” when that happened. She was already planning for their kids’ financial future, saying that she did not want them to “be aware of money.”

Carrie Bradshaw had a habit of spending well beyond her means, but Parker is not her “SATC” character. She told Good Housekeeping that she “used to get a stomachache” after going on a shopping spree, and she’d often return what she bought. Her frugality stems from her upbringing. Her family was on welfare, and in the aforementioned NYT interview, said she had a “Dickensian” upbringing — sometimes the electricity would get cut off, and there would be no money to celebrate Christmas or birthdays. While she doesn’t want her own kids to want for anything, she told KIIS FM’s “The 3pm Pickup” that she doesn’t give them everything they want so that they know the feeling of “pining for something” and working towards it (via Film News).

They let their son make a big family decision

It’s hard to believe that Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s oldest child is already an adult. When their son, James Wilkie, turned 18 in October 2020, Parker marked the occasion on Instagram with a series of candid family photos. “My love for you is an ache and an honor” the proud mother wrote.

During a 2009 interview with Access Hollywood, Parker revealed that she and Broderick tried to have another child for years before deciding to use a surrogate, and they were delighted when they received the unexpected news that they would be having twins. “One really would have been thrilling and we would’ve felt incredibly lucky. And two was a comedy!” she said. James was six years old at the time, and Parker shared that he was “really excited” about being a big brother.

James was so excited, in fact, that he insisted on naming one of his siblings. Parker told Elle that he suggested the moniker Marion for the firstborn twin (her slightly younger sister was named Tabitha). Parker was initially hesitant to relinquish her and Broderick’s parental naming rights to their son, but his adorable demand paid off. “We thought, Are we crazy?” Parker said. “Do we let our son name one of the girls? Is that the right thing to do? Is it important for him? And then he goes, ‘And I want it legal.'”

A police chief broke into the couple's surrogate's home

Surrogacy helped make Sarah Jessica Parker’s dream of having more children come true, but the experience turned out to be a nightmare for her surrogate. ABC News wrote that the “stigma that once accompanied surrogacy” was beginning to decrease in 2009 when Parker decided to openly talk about her experience with it. However, after the identity of her surrogate was discovered by the press, Parker told Access Hollywood that the woman was stalked and relentlessly harassed. “She’s had her phone hacked, her personal computer information hacked, she’s had threats against her and true harassment,” Parker said.

The surrogate’s privacy was violated yet again when Martins Ferry Police Chief Barry Carpenter entered her home in Ohio without her knowledge. As The Wrap reported, he was accused of taking several items, including ultrasound photos, and attempting to sell them to a paparazzo.

According to The New York Times, Carpenter was found guilty on multiple counts, including tampering with evidence. He managed to avoid a burglary charge. The officer resigned from his position and received a 32-month prison sentence. A police chief from a neighboring town, Chad M. Dojack, was accused of conspiring with Carpenter. He was sentenced to 50 days of house arrest after pleading guilty to dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime, according to NYT.

Sarah Jessica Parker believes kids can 'distract' from a marriage

It’s evident that Sarah Parker loves being a mom, but she’s not too proud to admit that motherhood isn’t always as pleasant as a stroll through Central Park. Children can also change the dynamics of marriage, for better or for worse. “Kids can really distract you from your relationship,” Parker told The Telegraph in 2011. “Maybe in good ways and bad ways. It’s important to have all eyes on all parts of the relationship.” On a 2018 episode of Girlboss Radio, Parker confessed that she would like to “invest more” in her relationship with her husband (via Entertainment Tonight). Unfortunately, finding the time to do so can be difficult when parenting becomes like a second fulltime job. “It’s exhausting and you’re basically just cleaning up after people all day,” she said. “You’re one big, good, old-fashioned secretary.”

But all that hard work can pay off in wonderful ways. During a 2019 appearance on KIIS FM’s “The 3pm Pickup,” Parker spoke about the simple thing her kids do that has improved her relationship. “As complicated and chaotic as marriage and family can be, I think it’s helpful to see the way my children look at my husband,” she said (via Film News). “I think it’s a reminder to see that kind of purity of feeling because you get bogged down in the day to day of a marriage and it’s a lot.”

Sarah Jessica Parker's husband convinced her to take her most iconic role

In 2000, Sarah Jessica Parker told The New York Times that her mother would not allow her to work in television as a child because she considered the medium “vulgar and trashy.” The actor went on to appear on the TV series “Square Pegs” in the early ’80s, and her small screen career didn’t stop there. However, she was focusing mostly on movies by the early ’90s.

When the opportunity to play Carrie Bradshaw presented itself, Parker had some reservations about returning to TV. She told the Mirror that she disliked the commitment that a series requires, noting that it would affect her movie and theater careers, as well as her personal life. However, Matthew Broderick convinced her that “Sex and the City” might end up being worth the sacrifice. “But Matthew said, ‘I think you should do this because it’s a really good part. The worst case scenario is it’ll be successful,'” she recalled.

According to Playbill, Parker soon regretted her decision. After she filmed the show’s pilot, she managed to forget about it until the series got picked up. She then desperately tried to get out of her contract. While trying to bargain with HBO, she even promised to “film three projects for free” if she was allowed to ditch the series. Luckily, she was convinced to rethink her decision again, and her husband’s assessment of the gig was proved right.

Matthew Broderick thinks his wife is to thank for this trend

After Sarah Jessica Parker assumed the role that she was so reluctant to take on, she soon became one of television’s biggest fashion icons. Viewers coveted Carrie Bradshaw’s closet full of designer pieces, and the “SATC” movie later left fans dreaming of their own Cinderella-style Manolo Blahnik shoe proposal. Parker’s character also sparked a few fashion trends that just won’t die, from belted boyfriend shirts to newsprint fabric and peek-a-boo bras, as noted by The Zoe Report. A 2008 New York magazine profile revealed that Matthew Broderick blamed his wife for another undergarment-related trend.

When Broderick saw a woman wearing a pair of low-rise jeans and a visible thong in their West Village neighborhood, he remembered telling his wife, “That’s your fault!” While speaking to Glamour, Parker confirmed that her husband believed that she — not Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, or thong aficionado Sisqó — was to blame for the “whale tail” fad, and she didn’t exactly deny it. She did, however, refuse to accept responsibility for another fashion trend of the late ’90s. “He also saw a low-slung jean once and blamed it on me,” she said. “And I said no, no, no, no, no. That you actually can’t blame on me.”

Matthew Broderick didn't want to be on Sex and the City

In 1996, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker acted opposite one another in the Broadway musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” That same year, Broderick told The New York Times that his then-girlfriend was “great” in her role, and he said that his only issue with starring alongside her was “a slight feeling of dangling our couplehood around Times Square.”

Years passed without the couple working together again, then came “Sex and the City.” As Broderick recalled to The New York Times in 2020, he was asked to appear on the show numerous times, but he always declined. One part he was offered was that of the “premature ejaculator,” which eventually went to Justin Theroux. It was probably for the best, because Parker said that her husband’s presence on the show’s set made her “nervous.”

The couple finally decided to become co-stars once more in 2020. They were set to appear in the Broadway production of “Plaza Suite,” but as “CBS Sunday Morning” noted, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered theaters on the first day of their performance. They did get a chance to act together in front of audiences in Boston, and as Broderick told The New York Times, he learned something about performing with his wife. “It sounds weird, but playing a married couple feels separate from a personal relationship,” he said. “Your professional self takes over.” Now that the couple has become comfortable acting together, who knows? Maybe Broderick will agree to make a cameo in the “Sex and the City” revival.

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