LOS ANGELES – There was holiday spirit to spare as the cast of "The Family Stone" seemed to do more hugging of each other than mugging for the red-carpet media.
"It's like a family reunion because the whole entire cast is like a family to me," 9-year-old co-star Savannah Stehlin told AP Television News at the Tuesday night screening. "But the lights and cameras — it's so unusual for a family reunion!"
"It was alchemy," star Sarah Jessica Parker explained. "You know, people just really liked each other. We spent all our time off-camera together, we enjoy being with one another. I think we loved watching each another work."
Parker's fans appeared to love watching her on the arrivals line, with her entrance generating the sort of cheers usually reserved for box-office heavyweights. And Parker, 40, did look every bit the movie star in an elegant taupe Oscar de la Renta gown.
"The Family Stone," opening Dec. 16, spins around the annual holiday gathering of a New England family: the Stones. Parker plays Meredith, the outsider and fiancee of a Stone son. Her crisp, controlling demeanor doesn't sit well with the bohemian Stones. Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams also star.
The film marked Parker's first job since her smash sitcom "Sex and the City" finished its first run last year. After six years primarily on the tube, the transition back to the big screen proved an easy one.
"I read scripts that were more familiar," Parker said, referring to movie roles that were close to her "Sex and the City" character. "But what was so special about this was that not only was the role of Meredith so different than anything I'd played, but she was among many beautifully written characters in a really beautiful story."
Premiere guests included Lesley Ann Warren ("Desperate Housewives"), Kevin Sorbo (TV's "Hercules"), Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, as well as Parker's "Sex" co-star Kristin Davis.
Mulroney, who plays Parker's fiancee in the film, confessed he'd never seen a "Sex and the City" episode. "So I had none of these preconceived notions that clearly you have, and others may (about Parker). But I always liked her and respected her as an actress. Imagine that! And this was before the series," he said.
"I think the movie is saying, 'Family,'" bubbled Keaton in a black tuxedo and bow tie. "It's all about family and the love of family, and it's Christmas and all those values that we all have."