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In a wide-ranging interview with NPR’s Fresh Air published on July 3, the 54-year-old actress recalled how she once called her agent to report a costar “who was behaving, not only inappropriately, but perhaps even I would say, they weren’t living up to contractual obligations as well.”
Though Parker didn’t disclose the identity of the man or the name the project, she did say that she reported him because “I felt I was no longer able to convey how uncomfortable this was making me, how inappropriate it was.”
“The nature of the person who I felt was really the instigator, this was a grown man; a very big movie star,” Parker said. “He was baked, meaning his personality, it was cooked. He was a formed person and that wasn’t going to change.”
Parker said that her agent immediately took action “without hesitation,” threatening to remove her from the project if the behavior didn’t change. “He said to them, ‘If this continues, I have sent her a ticket, a one-way ticket out of this city’ — where I was shooting — ‘and she will not be returning,’ ” Parker recalled.
A response was swift.
“It was fascinating. Within hours, everything had changed,” Parker said. “It wasn’t perfectly pleasant but I didn’t have to be coy anymore and I didn’t have to dread a potential conversation. I didn’t have to listen to jokes about me or my figure or what people thought they could talk me into doing. All these men and, that just stopped.”
“I felt certainly better and safer,” she added. “That I could continue what I wanted to do.”
This was just one of “countless” experiences Parker said she’s had with “men behaving poorly or inappropriately” throughout her career.
The actress told NPR host Terry Gross that the #MeToo movement and the widespread accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that surfaced in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal only recently made her reassess her past.
Doing so allowed Parker to also become aware of the adjustments she made in order to cope with the situation.
“It really wasn’t, I would say, until about six or eight months ago that I started recognizing countless experiences of men behaving poorly, inappropriately, and all the ways that I had made it possible to keep coming to work or to remain on set, or to simply — as I’ve described it — just push it down, push it away, find a little space for it and move on,” she said.
“I always found a spot and really just didn’t allow it to consume me,” she said. “I don’t know why, to be honest. I don’t know why I either wasn’t courageous or more destroyed by some of the things that I was privy to, that I was on the receiving end of.”
Perhaps the most surprising thing for Parker during this self-exploration period was realizing that she never felt like she had the power to call out her male coworkers, even when she had higher roles than they on the project.
“No matter how evolved or how modern I thought I was, I didn’t feel entirely in a position — no matter what my role was on set — I didn’t feel as powerful as the man who was behaving inappropriately. Which just strikes me as just stunning to say out loud because there were plenty of occasions where it was happening and I was in a different position and I was as powerful,” Parker said on Fresh Air. “I had every right to say, ‘This is inappropriate.’ I could have felt safe in going to a superior.”
“I don’t recall saying ‘No,’ ” Parker continued. “This is very weird about this, and I don’t know if I’m ashamed of that or if I simply found a host of other words that said no in other ways. I do think that I was probably nervous about saying the word no, that it jeopardized my place, my work.”
So what did she say instead to get by?
“Sometimes it was making deals, trying to be witty and cleaver and use information that I had about this other party,” she said. “Maybe their politics. Maybe making a joke, ‘If you continue doing that I’ll tell everybody that you’re voting for George Bush in the next election.’ “
“I would try to find ways with language,” Parker shared on NPR. “I did things like, have a friend spend the night and answer my phone. I remember in a hotel once, I asked a male friend of mine if he would stay in the hotel room with me and answer the phone and simply say I wasn’t there.”
Parker, who has two Emmys for her role on Sex and the City, is currently starring in the third and final season of HBO’s Divorce.