Gwyneth Paltrow is long known as the ‘It’ girl, Queen of Glam, beautiful, talented and now an Oscar winner. Paltrow now dresses down, teaming up with ex-boyfriend Ben Affleck in the romantic drama Bounce. In this exclusive interview, Paltrow talks at length about love, pain and fame. Paul Fischer reports from New York.
Gwyneth Paltrow finds it hard to mask her ethereal beauty. Her hair is far more blonde than usual and she is wearing Calvin Klein boots and leather skirt, slit to the thighs, and a “Petite Bateau t-shirt”, she explains. In New York’s Park Avenue, this Hollywood glamour girl feels strangely out of place, she confesses. Dogged by the ‘It’ label, Paltrow insists that none of that has anything to do with her own reality. “I just ignore it. That stuff’s not important to me. The thing about all this stuff that has happened to me, though, is that it doesn’t mean very much. What’s important is being the best version of yourself, always growing, learning, being passionate.”
At the moment she remains passionate about her latest movie, Bounce, in which Paltrow plays Abby Janello, the young widow of a plane crash victim. Living a lonely life outside L.A., Abby is swept off her feet when she meets Buddy Amaral (Affleck), a successful advertising executive. However, when Buddy reveals that he once gave up his seat on a plane that later crashed, the two realize that they have a deeper connection. This is one of the few occasions that the pretty Ms Paltrow had to look considerably less glamorous. “She’s not a glamour girl, you know? She’s got two kids, a job, she lost her husband in a plane crash and is trying to make it work.” While wearing a distinctly unflattering wardrobe might have presented a challenge to the actress, it was all part of the work, she insists. “I think it was very good for the character. Don was very against me looking like the two-dimensional Gwyneth Paltrow – the one in all the magazines – he was very against that. He wanted Abby to be the kind of girls who reads glossy magazines rather than appears in the glossy magazines. It was his idea to get rid of the blonde hair because he felt it was too identifiable with the crass Gwyneth Paltrow person.”
Paltrow loved working on a film which she defines as being emotionally truthful, and it was easy to relate to the material. “Any time you have to trust or put yourself on the line, it’s scary in a way.” What might have also been scary was working with an actor with whom she has had a romantic involvement, yet it is an issue that avoids discussing in a direct way. “I think any time you do a film with someone that you know, that you’re friends with in real life, it makes all aspects of filming easier. I just did a little piece in a film, directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cummings, who are friends of mine, and a whole bunch of my friends were in it, and it just makes it fun. It just makes it easier, and more relaxed when you have a personal relationship with somebody.”
In a recent issue of Talk Magazine, her ex-boyfriend and co-star Affleck commented that Paltrow wanted him for the film for ‘educational reasons’. Paltrow is dismissive of the notion. “He’s allowed to speculate on that if he wants to. I just thought that he’s a very good actor, and that when he does something that requires something of him, like when he has to connect with his emotional fabric and kind of dig a little bit, he’s really wonderful. I also thought that this would be the kind of role that he would get to expand on film, and work hard to do, and so I thought he would be good in it. Yes, as a friend, I considered that it would be an interesting role for him, and that he would learn a lot by doing it.”
Whether Paltrow and Affleck are still together, romantically, it has become the fodder for tabloids. Paltrow insists, however, that “Ben is not my boyfriend.” As far as the tabloids go, “I have learned that kind of stuff is just for me, you know. If doesn’t serve anyone any purpose by talking about it.” Paltrow refuses t oread about herself, anywhere. “I don’t read ANYTHING. I don’t read any gossip, articles, reviews; nothing about me, so it’s like it doesn’t exist for me. It’s been really good actually. I stopped reading everything about me about a year and a half ago, so I’m totally detached from that whole side of my life, which has been very liberating.”
She is one of the most written about and photographed women in the world, so what keeps her grounded? ” My family and friends. I’ve had the same friends since I was a baby, and they’re very honest with me.” Honesty is the best policy, and her father, director Bruce Paltrow, is nothing but honest within his daughter. “I was in Spain with my dad and we got into a bit of an altercation about something. So he said to me: ‘You know, you really have to work on this. You’re so young, and people are always removing your obstacles for you, and that’s not how life is. And it’s true. I so value that and my friends are really honest with me.” Paltrow recently worked with her father in the unfortunate Duets, which not only bombed at the box office, but received the most savage reviews in the actor’s career. “It was devastating. There seemed to be a very nasty reaction to the movie, which really had nothing to do with the movie, but about me and him.”
Paltrow just returned from England where she is playing yet another British character in Possession. “This one’s very different from my other three characters, in that she’s very guarded and an academic. She’s not open emotionally at all which I think is more characteristic of English people.” Despite having been British on screen a lot, the actress insists that she is “an old fashioned American girl.” Perennially busy, no wonder the beautiful actress has little time to find love, or does she? “It’s whatever God brings me first, is what it is. You can’t make plans like that. You can’t say, ‘I want to do this and I want to do that’. You just have to take what’s in front of you, and just do it one day at a time.”