Sarah Jessica Parker is best known as Carrie Bradshaw, the sharp-tongued figurehead of Sex and the City, the long-running ode to post feminism and stylish clothes. But before Mr. Big and the Louboutins she was a movie star with some classics — like Footloose — and some stinkers — like Dudley Do-Right — to her credit.

This weekend she’s back on the big screen for the first time in a non-Sex and the City movie since the 2009 flop Did You Hear about the Morgans? In I Don’t Know How She Does It she plays a version of Carrie all grown up with kids and a job in the financial sector. It’s a far cry from her first big movie, Footloose.

She played Rusty, a role Parker called the “best friend of the pretty girl.” The movie and its fancy footwork earned her a Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama nomination at the Sixth Annual Youth in Film Awards.

A few forgettable films followed like Firstborn —described as a “heavy-handed suburban sitcom”— Girls Just Want to Have Fun — called “a total wannabe in the realm of ‘80s teen flicks”— and Flight of the Navigator, which features the voice of Pee Wee Herman as a robot.



It wasn’t until she teamed with Steve Martin in L.A. Story that things started looking up. In this surreal look at life and love in Los Angeles Parker plays SanDeE, a ditzy blonde who aspires to be a spokesmodel.

 

“Um, it’s just a model who speaks,” she explains. “You know, and she points at things like merchandise, you know, like a car or washer and dryer. Sometimes it’s something really small, you know, like, like a book or fine art print.”

The movie broke her out of the teen movie mode and displayed her deft comic timing, which was put to great use in Honeymoon in Vegas opposite Nic Cage. A few flops later she appeared in the critically acclaimed Ed Wood with Johnny Depp. Playing the much put-upon girlfriend of the world’s worst director, she calls the actors and crew of his film Bride of the Monster “the usual cast of misfits and dope addicts.”

Her most spectacular pre-Sex and the City role, however, is in Mars Attacks.

In it she plays a flighty talk show host, who literally becomes a talking head when she is beheaded by aliens.

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