The fact that Parker's new role is a departure from Bradshaw is exactly what she found "compelling" about it

By Aurelie Corinthios
Updated October 14, 2016 10:01 AM

It’s been over 12 years since Sarah Jessica Parker regularly graced the small screen with her presence — but don’t think for a moment that her return to HBO with Divorce parallels her famous role as the network’s Sex and the City heroine Carrie Bradshaw.

In the latest edition of The Jess Cagle Interview, the actress reveals just how different her role as Frances Parker in the new dramedy is from the beloved Bradshaw.

“I’m not entirely sure she knows who she is which is, in some ways, the reason that we wanted to tell this story,” says Parker, 51, of Frances, a corporate headhunter with two kids who suddenly realizes she’s sick of her 17-year marriage to Robert (Thomas Haden Church).

And the fact that Frances is such a departure from Bradshaw is exactly what the actress finds “compelling.”

“When I first started developing this show, I didn’t know who the woman would be and I wasn’t developing it for me — it was just something among many things that we were working on,” she explains. “But I think the reason I couldn’t say no to playing her — when HBO made it clear that they assumed I was — was that she is wonderfully different than Carrie Bradshaw, and in every way different from me. The three of us look alike, and that’s basically it.”

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But there is one thing the two characters have in common.

“All the things that made Carrie interesting, in terms of her being different, I finally found in somebody else,” says Parker of Frances. “They aren’t the same differences than me, but they are equally as challenging and exciting and daunting and thrilling to try to sort out. So I finally found a character that I was like: ‘Yeah, I want to come home again.’ ”

As for what makes Frances different than Bradshaw herself? According to the actress, “everything.”

“Her life choices have been really different, what’s asked of her has been different,” explains Parker. “She’s struggled to find a professional kind of peace — she hasn’t found it.”

“She has a lot of real financial worries that I think keep her up at night and confuse her in terms of meeting her own needs versus meeting those of other people around her,” adds Parker. “She lives outside the city because it’s necessary and been asked of her, so there’s a huge amount of what might have been and still can be that I haven’t been asked. I’ve been able to make choices in my life and I’ve not had those same worries.”

Divorce airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.