Mary-Louise Parker Likes to Reveal Herself

The acclaimed actress on dating, adopting and her Weeds nude scene.

By Meryl Gordon
Photograph: Photo by: Brigitte Lacombe

“The birth of Will gave us an opportunity to be closer,” says Sarandon, the mother of three. “That is an area where I’ve made my mistakes, and I tell her what not to do and reassure her that the kids will survive.” She laughs and adds, “Mary-Louise is a great mom, very hands-on. She has a flair for making an occasion of every holiday.” Adds Liana Pai, a Manhattan boutique owner who befriended Parker through their kids’ school, “Mary-Louise will send me a picture of her having a Monet day; she’ll put flowers in the bathtub, and the three of them will be doing drawings.” On Salvador Dalí days, the family dons mustaches and fools around with clocks.
Parker says she “wanted a lot of children, and that didn’t happen.” So in 2007 she opted to adopt, something she “always wanted to do, my whole life,” she says. At first, “I thought, I’m single, it’s too hard. But then I thought, I don’t want to be on my deathbed not having done something because it was too hard. I’m so glad I did—she is magical.” She was open-minded about where she would adopt from: “I just wanted a child who needed a mother and a home and food and love,” she says. When she met with Jane Aronson, MD, who runs Worldwide Orphans Foundation, “everything fell into place.” The actress now supports the Brighter Futures Project, which raises money to aid orphaned girls around the world.
Parker has had an on-and-off relationship with actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, which she declined to discuss. But ask what it’s like to date as a single parent of two, and she replies, “Some men are daunted by it, some are really attracted. I had someone ask, ‘Does this mean we can’t go out anytime we want?’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what it means. It means you come fourth, ’cause it’s my kids, my job, my family.’ ” Then she pauses and defiantly declares, “I don’t ever want to come first to anyone. It’s too much pressure.”
She adds that she’s about to take a mini break from her kids, indulging in two nights at a Manhattan hotel, and later hands me some of her Esquire articles, including a lighthearted riff about the erotic possibilities of clandestine sex in hotel hallways and by the ice machine. In a follow-up phone conversation, I ask how much of that essay was autobiographical. “It was not all speculative,” she replies, laughing. “It was not conjured.” A little danger adds a thrill? “I just like danger in general,” she says. “I don’t like to hang out of an airplane, I don’t want to get on a motorcycle. But I like to reveal myself, and I like things that are psychologically dangerous. That’s why I like acting.”

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