It is a famous fact about Sarah Jessica Parker that she is a good girl. She objects to things that are "vulgar." She uses phrases like "a bee in my bonnet." She is reflexively prim and has been that way since her teen years--"although prim is not a good word; modest," clarifies Cynthia Nixon, her co-star on Sex and the City, who got to know Parker when the two were 13, filming a movie of the week in Nashville, back when rolling down a hill outside their hotel seemed like the best fun in the world. (In Nixon's memory, the actress was a conservative dresser but a master accessorizer: "She would take a different ribbon every day and braid it into her hair.")
But Parker, now 43, is also a person who knows how to steer her own ship. We meet just after a photo shoot she's doing in the East Village, in a studio that used to be a gay bathhouse. Parker runs downstairs, having changed from her stilettos into silver flats, and she is so hostesslike, so obliging, it's almost indecent--full of compliments, her head tilted, touching me on the knee, offering me a drink, literally running off theatrically when she has to go pee. It's a type of friendliness that might seem over-the-top if it weren't so disarming. She's tiny, with enormous blue eyes. She looks her age, but then, so do I.