"Divorce" is about to run deeper for Sarah Jessica Parker, but fortunately, it's only an on-screen matter.
The actress-producer (and wife of Matthew Broderick) returns with Season 2 of her serio-comic, post-"Sex and the City" HBO series Sunday, Jan. 14. Her character Frances struggles to adapt to life apart from her now-ex-husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church), which entails strained relations with her children, a potential love interest (Steven Pasquale) and new professional considerations at her art gallery.
"I think that many people who are contemplating divorce imagine a fairly different life," the pleasant Parker says. "Most people are not expert at being divorced, so the theoretical is different than the actual day-to-day. If you combine that with being a parent and financial stress, Frances discovers that it's not as simple as liberating yourself from another person."
That translates into Frances and Robert being in different places, quite literally, for much of "Divorce's" second season. "I really missed him," Parker says of co-star Church. "The problem with a show called 'Divorce' is that I have to, as an actor, divorce myself from Thomas in certain ways. By the end of the season, though, I think some of the better feelings in (the characters') past start to surface. That's the ideal situation ... that you get to a place with a former partner that is based on love, and that you can get past the battles."
Much as "Sex and the City" was the saga of several women, so is "Divorce," though Parker (also one of its executive producers) clearly is the show's first among equals. Molly Shannon and Talia Balsam return as Frances' friends, who sometimes are linked into her life more closely than she suspects.
"I love them so much, and I love working with them. They're such different actresses, and they're both so good and so seasoned," Parker said. "It's great to have time with them; I just wish we'd had more."
Other "Sex and the City" veterans involved in "Divorce" this season include director Wendey Stanzler and writers Julie Rottenberg. Elisa Zuritsky and Liz Tuccillo. While Parker allows that "it's very nice to be reunited" with colleagues whose work she's comfortable with, the actress stresses "Divorce" remains its own show, though she understands that some Carrie Bradshaw fans may be slow to warm up to Frances.
"I think certain audiences may have been surprised by Frances, but they responded really well to the show in general. Other people might miss the jubilant nature of Carrie and have been like, '(Frances) is unlikable. You shouldn't play someone who's not likable.' My response is that is that I'm an actor, and I always want to play people who are new and different to me."
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Season 2 premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, on HBO