Are you ready for The Carrie Diaries? The curls! The internal monologue! The metaphors comparing inanimate objects to the trials and tribulations of everyday life! It’s been almost a decade since Carrie summed it all up with a sentence starting with “maybe”. But Bradshaw is back – and this time, we get to see all of her Manhattan firsts. If you loved Sex and the City and SJP’s outfits, you’ll adore The Carrie Diaries.
The cast. Did they all have to be so attractive? Yes, they did.
I chatted with executive producer and writer Amy Harris and costume designer Eric Daman about Miss Bradshaw’s return to TV. Both Amy and Eric had a lot of wonderful things to say, from how the show came about to proper scrunchie etiquette. And you guys, they’re the nicest people I’ve ever spoken to.
Don’t miss the premiere of The Carrie Diaries tonight, at 8/7c!
So, how did the idea for the show come about? I know it was a book, but how did you come across The Carrie Diaries?
AH: Yes, well, I worked obviously on Sex and the City. And Candace had been a friend of mine for years. We actually lived on the same street in Manhattan. And when she finished The Carrie Diaries the book, she dropped off a galley for me to read, and I read it, and just loved it. I remember thinking to myself, “if they ever make this into a television series or something, I hope I can get to be a part of this!” Sure enough, they started talking about making it into a series. And Michael Patrick King, who was my mentor on Sex and the City and was at Warner Brothers, who owns the rights to the project, they asked him if he wanted to do it. And he was doing Two Broke Girls and was too busy, and said, “I don’t have time, but I would like it to be Amy if you’re gonna pursue this project.” I got lucky to be chosen, quite frankly. I was incredibly nervous because beyond just the fans that I love and respect and wanted to do right by, I also had writers and cast members of the original series that I wanted to make sure I did a good job of staying authentic to who Carrie was. I wrote the pilot and got the blessing of Sarah Jessica to do the job, and from Michael and from Candace and then I just started writing what I felt was interesting. So it all just happened.
Sex and the City is definitely a lot to live up to! But as a huge Sex and the City fan, I think The Carrie Diaries is so much like the show that I love.
AH: Aww, and that’s the thing. As writers we have the opportunity to tell that origin story about why Carrie is who she is and get to know her as she’s meeting Manhattan for the first time, falling in love for the first time, having sex for the first time. That was very exciting for me to think about.
How is writing for young Carrie different than writing for adult Carrie?
AH: Well, I think she’s less… you know, she’s not a fully realized writer yet. Although I think she’s an incredibly thoughtful person, in terms of how she thinks about the world and looks at the world. So my feeling is, in the voiceover, I can really play with the idea that she’s thinking through stuff and writing it down, versus it just coming off the top of her head. But I really liked the idea that we can clearly see the line between adult Carrie and our younger Carrie in the way she writes. In Sex and the City she was coming up with a question that kind of created the scene for each episode, and in this one I think she’s still compiling the thoughts. It hasn’t quite become the bigger thing. That sort of “I couldn’t help but wonder…” I don’t think we’ll get to in the series. So, whatever that phrasing is right before the question, I don’t think she’ll ever do that in the series. I think that’s adult Carrie’s version of life.
And AnnaSophia is a perfect choice. How is working with her?
AH: Yeah. She’s kind of dreamy! She’s not even kind of dreamy, she’s the ultimate in dreamy. I kept trying to figure out what we wanted in the audition process, what I was looking for. Because it was actually a very challenging process to find somebody, ‘cause, let’s face it: nobody’s ever going to replace Sarah Jessica Parker. She’s perfection. So it was really just finding someone who I felt like had an essence that I was looking for. I couldn’t understand what it was until AnnaSophia walked in the door.
To me, SJP brought unbelievable intelligence to the role. You believed she was a writer, you believed she was thinking about the world and her place in it, and yet she was also a very vulnerable character. And I think that’s really what AnnaSophia brings to it. I mean, the girl got in to Stanford, so we know she’s smart. She’s bringing this incredible intelligence to it and she is thinking about her place in the world, and yet she’s still open, and I think that’s what I was looking for in the young Carrie. Was that feeling that she’s having all these new experiences, but she’s not unconscious about it. She’s really appreciating what all those experiences mean to her. And yet, also sort of wide open to what they could bring. I think AnnaSophia just does that in spades. It’s been very exciting to watch her as she’s learning about Manhattan, and her own life. AnnaSophia, not Carrie. She’s bringing all that to the role, which is invaluable.
So, you are the executive producer and a writer. What is your typical day like?
AH: It sort of varies. Because if we’re in the writer’s room or in the edit bay, it’s a quieter, smaller, intimate world. The other writers are super talented; really interesting, thoughtful people. We go into the room, and we work all day on coming up with stories for the future episodes, and then often times I have to go into the edit bay and start editing the episodes. That’s if I go to Los Angeles, when I’m in Manhattan, where we’re filming, it’s a very different type of day. I’m up at 6am, on the set, constantly just watching performances and saying “yes” to certain production design things or costume design things. And I’m always on deadline with scripts! So while I’m watching them filming, whenever they yell “cut” I go right to my computer that’s on my lap to start writing a scene. And they say “action” and I stop. So it’s a really fun, great combination of thoughtful process and filming and production. I get to have a little bit of everything. Which is, for me, the dream.
Are there any moments in the show we might chuckle at? And know that we have some more information than Carrie does at the time?
AH: Yes! I’m calling them Easter eggs, where we’re acknowledging stuff that maybe Carrie won’t even understand until later. We have an episode where we find out why Carrie doesn’t like to cook. And we have an episode where we find out why Carrie ends up wearing flowers on her lapels. So there’s things that are sort of shimmering for our audience who knows the adult Carrie, who will appreciate what the young Carrie might not appreciate yet.
What were you like when you were Carrie’s age?
AH: I didn’t even think you could make a living writing. If I’d known that, I might have jumped out of my skin for joy. Because I had so much I had to say, but didn’t know how to say it. I think I was precocious. I grew up right outside of DC, and wanted to always be in DC. My mom had a job where she spent a bunch of time in Manhattan. I remember my first experience walking into Tiffany’s, and I had to pick something up for someone who worked for my mom. And carrying my little blue Tiffany bag for the first time and thinking, “This is what I would like!”
Well, people will absolutely love the show, rest assured.
AH: Aww, thank you! Keep watching!
Amy Harris, just hanging with
Carrie AnnaSophia Robb & Candace Bushnell. Normal stuff.
Eric Daman, Costume Designer
So what is your typical day like in that exciting, exciting fashionable world?
Eric Daman: Well, this morning it started off with four interviews. And then I’m running off to a concept meeting to discuss the fashions for the next episode. And then after that I will meet up with my team and go through what we just talked about in our last meeting. And then I will go out and procure and shop for about four or five hours. And then I’ll come back to the offices by the set for probably an hour or so. And then do three to four fittings later in the day, probably from like, 4-6. And then go back to set for a while, and then be back in the office to make sure we’re all set for the next day.
You also worked on Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. Which show had the most fun wardrobe?
ED: It was so different, it’s kind of a hard question. I feel like working with Patricia and Sarah Jessica, and just having that whole moment of Sex and the City become such a huge iconic phenomenon, and just learning and being around them was so magical and educational and fun. And really learning from Pat how to push the limit. They both were equally as energetic and as fun, just great. I cherish both of them. I feel very honored and privileged to have been a part of both shows.
How do you describe young Carrie’s style as she’s coming into this Carrie that we already know and love?
ED: I think young Carrie has this “figuring it out as she goes” thing. I think it was very important to create a younger, Connecticut Carrie. She’s sixteen, she’s in high school, she just lost her mother, and kind of is trying to figure things out. But her and her friends definitely have their own clique and are different than the hip kids and the super rich kids and the ultra-fashion kids. But she definitely has her own eclectic, original style. And the more she goes to New York, the more she’s going to learn about fashion, the more she’s going to enjoy it. You get to see her grow into the Carrie we know. I think that’s what’s really fun about telling this story: you get to see this kind of quieter, younger Carrie. To see her grow and find out why she loves Manolos, or where her flower brooch comes from, and how all these iconic themes come to play in her life as a kid. A child growing up and learning about all this is really what’s going to be really captivating and really fun.
Are you a fan of 80s fashion? Is it fun to work with this different set of clothes and rules?
ED: I definitely am. It was my coming of age. I graduated high school in ’88, so my whole growing up is very similar in age to what Carrie is going through. And I lived in the Midwest, and I was in love with fashion, and used to travel an hour to read Interview magazine. There was only one mall in my state that sold it, and I’d have to drive to go get it, but I made the trek every month. So it is fun for me to go back. Doing research, I have to go back and watch all my old favorite movies, all the John Hughes films. And New York songs, like Slaves of New York, or Liquid Sky, and do research. I even pulled out my old high school yearbook, and it really kind of helped give a sense of what Connecticut could look like.
What were you like when you were Carrie’s age?
ED: Definitely a Duran Duran, new wave kid. I dyed my hair orange. Later in high school I got more into new-romantic stuff, like The Smiths. I didn’t go quite goth, because I liked fashion too much, and pop culture.
Who are your biggest style inspirations that help you form these incredible looks for these shows?
ED: I go through different eras. I like to look back in history. What’s going on in mainstream fashion doesn’t interest me as much as what was going on in the 50s, 60s, 70s. I love Ingrid Bergman, or Marlene Dietrich. And then I look at Jean Seberg, and Jane Birkin. And I say Jane Birkin, and I actually think of Lou Doillon, who’s her daughter, who I also think is a contemporary fashion icon that really has her own style. I was lucky enough to actually dress her, because she was on Gossip Girl.
Is Carrie going to make some fashion flubs, or is she going to be flawless from the start?
ED: I think it’s going to be about a journey. There’s not going to be any real fashion flubs, but I think it will be mostly like “oh, I’m in a cocktail dress and I’m supposed to be in a gown, and I didn’t understand that.” All of her learning a language and a style on her own. The more she goes to New York and the more she’s exposed to it, you’ll see that change. And I think that’s what’s going to be the best part about this adventure and evolution. You’re going to get to see her grow and change like a school girl would. Hopefully we won’t make any giant fashion flubs a part of the story, but she definitely has her own eclectic, idiosyncratic, personalized style.
A big thank you to Amy and Eric for taking the time to speak with me.
The Carrie Diaries premieres tonight at 8/7c, on The CW!