Long before she slipped into her first Manolos or a dashing man’s arms, Carrie Bradshaw was fabulous.
Even when she was 16 and a high-school junior, Carrie, who grew up to be the center of HBO’s celebrated series “Sex and the City,” was delightful. Her spirit shines through in The CW’s “The Carrie Diaries,” premiering Monday, Jan. 14.
AnnaSophia Robb plays Carrie. She doesn’t look like Sarah Jessica Parker. Rather, she projects something more elusive, Carrie’s personality and hints of the woman she would become.
“It was almost next to impossible” to find the right actress, showrunner Amy Harris tells Zap2it.
“We auditioned 300 very talented actresses. There was a through line I had to find, connecting young Carrie to old Carrie. When we sat down with AnnaSophia — Sarah Jessica brought such a real intelligence but thoughtfulness to the part but also that she thinks about the world and writes about it the same way. She is also very open and vulnerable, and that is what AnnaSophia is to me.
“She is a thinker,” Harris continues. “She is extremely bright for someone so young. She is really thinking about the world and the other people in her life.”
“Carrie is not a judgmental person,” Robb says. “I really enjoy that about her. She is open to new experiences. She is taking everything with a grain of salt, and with the writer’s perspective, that is what makes her such an insightful writer: self-deprecating and a great friend and always puts her friends first and always trying to figure out the world. She is the friend you always wanted to have.”
In the pilot, Carrie’s mom had recently died. Carrie has a younger sister, the difficult Dorritt (Stefania Owen, “Running Wilde”). Her dad, lawyer Tom (Matt Letscher, “Brothers and Sisters”), is just trying to cope.
They live in a fictional Connecticut suburb in 1984. The show’s designers nail the clothes, background music and that hair for which no amount of hair spray was ever enough.
There are the usual high-school types — the mean, vapid girl and her even dumber hangers-on, the handsome stranger, and the best guy friend, who’s gay but conflicted. And there are the temptations of the early ’80s for a girl within commuting distance of Manhattan.
Carrie’s dad secures an internship for her, and she gets to spend a day a week in the city. And that is how Carrie’s most important love affair begins — that with New York.
She takes in the glamour, and she knows this is where she belongs.
Though the original 1998-2004 series had its loyal fans, Robb was not among them.
“I was too young when it ended to be able to watch it,” she says. “I started watching it when I began to audition for it, and I try to watch an episode a night, partly because I love it and partly to get in my head space sometimes.”
“They don’t want me to copy Sarah Jessica’s performance,” Robb says. “She did such a beautiful job, and it is her role in ‘Sex and the City,’ but this is a different show. And we want it to feel different, too.”
That very difference is what will make or break the new series, and Harris, who worked on the original, is keenly aware of that.
“I want people who loved Carrie Bradshaw to come to the show and watch the origin story of how she became the iconic figure she is for many women,” Harris says. “We will see why she doesn’t like to cook and see her getting her first pair of Manolo Blahniks.”