Jess Cagle
February 15, 2018 08:00 AM

Sarah Jessica Parker is recalling a pivotal moment from her wildly successful career: standing up for herself on set.

The Emmy and Golden Globe-winning Sex and the City alum has famously refused to shoot nude scenes and was vocal about it in one of her early films.

“I don’t know if I had confidence or if I was being counseled by people. There was so much pressure for me to take my clothes off,” Parker, 52, tells PEOPLE’s Editor in Chief Jess Cagle in this week’s cover story, in which she opens up about a range of topics: current projects like HBO’s Divorce, as well as marriage, motherhood and four decades of fame.

“My agent [CAA’s Kevin Huvane] sent a car and a plane ticket [to the film set] and he said, ‘If anybody makes you do anything that you’re not comfortable doing, you don’t.’ Given what’s happening now and the stories told from that particular period, I know how lucky I am that there was someone — in this case, a man — who stepped in,” she recalls.

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Parker says she recently “ran into a woman who worked on that movie” who told the actress “I remember you sobbing” because she was being pressured into taking her clothes off.

“They were like, ‘Sarah Jessica’s going to be nude tomorrow,’ and I was like ‘I’m not going to be nude,’ ” says Parker, who shares three children — 8-year-old twin daughters Tabitha and Loretta, and son James Wilkie, 15 — with her husband of 20 years, Matthew Broderick.

Walter McBride/WireImage
  • For much more on Sarah Jessica Parker, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday 

Though the producer and entrepreneur — in addition to fragrances and SJP Collection shoes, she has a new children’s clothing line with Gap and will be launching her own book imprint, SJP for Hogarth, in June — has made the personal decision to not be naked onscreen, she supports women who feel comfortable doing so.

“It’s not a value thing, or like I’m judging anyone else,” she explains. “I just never dug it.”

Adds Parker: “I think it’s great when women feel comfortable doing it, and that’s their choice.”

—With NATALIE STONE

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