(1972 - )
Hollywoods coolest blonde has new priorities:
marriage and motherhood. Those who peek into the windows of Gwyneth
Kate Paltrows life have seen how charmed it can be she
is blessed with beauty, brains, talent, success and accolades. But into
every life some rain must fall, and the fair-haired actress, frequently
called Hollywoods Princess, has had a rough time coping
with the recent death of her beloved father, television and film director/
producer Bruce Paltrow. He was 58.
Although she admits that her grief was overwhelming,
Paltrow has shown a great deal of maturity in moving on with her life.
She recently eloped with her 26-year-old laid-back British rocker boyfriend,
Chris Martin (lead singer of the group Coldplay), and is pregnant with
their first child.
The newly married couple has been seen around New
York and L.A. looking like the young lovers that they are. Close friends
say that her new husband provided needed solace after her fathers
death and their relationship quickly grew. Their baby is due in the
summer of 2004 and from the look on Paltrows beaming face, it
is clear that the 31-year-old actress is over the moon with this new
It is very exciting; I am very happy,
Paltrow recently told talk show host Jay Leno. I pinch my stomach
for luck and now there is more to pinch. She also told Leno that
she has a bit of Jewish jitters and doesnt want to jinx anything
about her blissful state. The Jewish part of me is superstitious
about talking about it. So when people ask, Are you going to find
out about the sex of the baby?, Do you have weird food cravings?
Or, How does your mom feel? I dont want to answer
The first two questions one would have to venture
a guess, but to the third this writer can speak with some authority.
Paltrows mother, stage and film actress Blythe Danner, spoke candidly
in a recent interview about her daughter and first grandchild.
What can I say? Danner responded. I
am thrilled. Being a grandma is a role I am ready and eager to tackle.
And Chris is wonderful for her. There is a nice easiness between them.
She is happier than Ive ever seen her.
So what advice does Danner have when it comes to the
cherished role of motherhood? I think she has been very wise that
she didnt choose the path of motherhood right away, her
mom said. Her career has been her child up until now, and Ive
encouraged her to do that so when she has children maybe she will do
one movie every two years and be able to do both well.
As a working actress trying to juggle home and career
with various degrees of success, Danner says you can do both well, but
it is not an easy road.
I think you have to be very wise and intelligent
to do it, says the star of numerous films, including Meet the
Parents and Prince of Tides. I think its very
difficult to do it. My daughter has a lot more pressures than I had.
Now that shes pregnant, Im sure she has figured it out very
wellthe way that she does most things.
Born in 1972 in L.A. to Blythe Danner and Bruce Paltrow,
Paltrow and her brother, Jake, moved to Massachusetts when she was 11.
The familys migration took place so her father could direct summer
stock in New England. It was also an opportunity for Paltrow to receive
early acting training under the tutelage of her parents.
She attended the University of California for one year and then left
to pursue her acting careersomething her parents were initially
cautious about, but quickly came to support.
Among the dozens of Paltrows major films are: Emma, The Talented
Mr. Ripley, Possession, Bounce, A View From the Top and Shakespeare
Stardom is not something the actress is enamored with. I will
be eating at a restaurant and I wish that everybody would stop staring
at me and stop eavesdropping on my conversation. So sometimes it gets
heavy, but I refuse to say that I am larger than life. I am an actress
and celebrity comes with it, but Im not going to remove myself
Danner says confidence and composure came naturally to Paltrow, but
she admits that her own 32-year marriage to Bruce Paltrow certainly
contributed to Paltrows intense feelings of security.
She came into the world as a very strong person...I think thats
somewhat helpful in that she had a strong, stable family. Even though
we were working and werent always together all the time, shes
also gone on a personal journey which is very impressive. Shes
decided to live her life in an extremely intelligent way, in a wise
way. She has her yoga, her macrobiotic diet, and her spiritual path,
and Im very proud of her as a person.
Her latest film, Sylvia, came at the right time in her life. Her father
had recently died from complications of pneumonia and a recurrence of
throat cancer shortly after celebrating Paltrows 30th birthday
with her in Cetona, Tuscany. His sudden death was a terrible blow to
Paltrow, who was admittedly a daddys girl.
She was thrilled when he directed her in the comedy-drama Duets, set
in the world of karaoke. I loved working alongside my father,
she has said. My father died two weeks before I started working
on the film Sylvia and that was without question the worst and most
devastating thing thats ever happened to me.
She says she didnt know if she would be able to work on the film
so close after her fathers death. But my brother, Jake,
was really insistent that I do it. He said to me, You know you
cant just wander around your house like a zombie. He said
its better that you have something to do, and that you get up
every morning and go.
Being in that decimated state, and reading Sylvia Plaths
dark poems, put her in the right place. It just required me to
be open to her voice, and her words. Also, I listen to a lot of depressing
Icelandic alternative music if I have to do anything sad.
A keen researcher, Paltrow says she listened to the recordings of Plath.
When she read her poetry, it was very startling and very extreme.
I thought, Im not going to do this voice, because nobody talks
like that. But I listened to a lot of the sounds and I would put colors
of it in. And I think I looked enough like her, with her funny hair.
One of her friends came to the set, saw me with the braids and said
she couldnt believe it. She said, You look exactly like
Sylvia Plath was known for her vivid dreams, and Paltrow says she had
her own strange, recurring dream while making the movie. Its
about this California kind of Victorian beach house, and its got
all this stained glass. Then I find while Im in this house that
its moving down a river. And I dont know how to get out
of the house. Its very weird! I have that dream a lot.
So how did the film affect her personally at the time? Im
sure I was not a lot of laughs by any stretch of the imagination! I
was so depressed about my father, and I was doing this incredibly heavy
Some film critics have said this is Paltrows best screen performance
to date, something that thrills her. I think its the most
amazing compliment. And its also a great lesson to me, in terms
of not holding back and not judging myself when I work.
Not only did her brother Jake help with her emotional state, but also
her mom came on the set at the end of the filming and took a small part
in the film.
My mom was great. We flew down to New Zealand together, which
was really lovely. You know, it was just comforting to be together,
to eat our meals together and to work together.
Paltrow says one friend did a really lovely thing after
her father died. The friend sent me a care package of music and
books, and one of them was A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.
I like to read, especially on vacation, because I am more relaxed and
able to tune out the noises in my head.
Along with reading, Paltrow says she loves spending
time in Manhattan because its a more normal lifestyle than L.A.
She currently has homes in Knightsbridge, London, and New Yorks
Greenwich Village, and prefers them to Tinseltown. In L.A. everything
is about the movie industry and you feel that everybody wants something
from you. But I love the energy in New York.
When her family is together they enjoy going to concerts, movies and
the theater. A favorite family memory for Paltrow was making breakfast
with her parents. Everything got deeper after he diedwork
and personally, says Paltrow. I had lost so much, and my
perspective had changed so much, that I thought Im not going to
live in this cautious way anymore. In work, or in any area of my life,
Im just going to make it count.
I am really lucky to have so much video footage of my father.
There are various interviews, so sometimes when I want to get really
depressed, I sit down and watch him on TV and cry a lot! But Im
glad that someday my child will be able to see him, and hear his voice
and get a sense of who he was. I want to keep him close to all of us
and keep it personal.
Nesting is something that comes very natural to Paltrow. I have
the best family in the entire world. And I have the same friends Ive
had since I was a little girl. Celebrity is not a factor in our friendship.
They are real and not afraid to contradict me, which is an extremely
And she has learned to listen to the advice of those who love her, especially
her mother. She told me not to let all the outside stuff in the
business permeate my life and to stay above the fray. None of us read
anything written about uswe dont even read the reviews.
You try to stay as true to the work as you can and let the other stuff
just wash over you.
More recently, Paltrow has been shooting the film version of the play
she did in London called Proof, also starring John Madden and Anthony
So what is going to be doing now, with this new chapter in her life?
A lot of personal things she wont talk about and a few more general
ones that she will. Im taking some time off and I probably
wont work until next fall. Its part of my new philosophy.
You know, I worked so much in my twenties. And I really burned the candle
at both ends.
She says when she was younger she wasnt too picky about
what I did. I was lucky that I did some really great films. But I also
did some really rubbish films. I think part of the downside of being
so successful and reaching sort of the pinnacle of everything when youre
26 years old is that I kind of became insouciant about things that I
chose. Like I thought, Oh Ill just try this, thatll
be fun. Or, Oh, Ill do that. You know, for the
money. Things that now I would absolutely never do.
Paltrow explains that, the combination of losing my father, turning
30, taking a year off, and doing a play, has completely shifted everything.
So now, first of all, I dont want to work so much. Maybe do one
thing a year, two at the most. I want to do more theater. I want to
do things that are worth my time. And if its just doing small
films like Sylvia, you know what I mean? Not doing something that makes
me feel horrible about myself as a person. Ill change my lifestyle,
as opposed to selling out.
She also learned a sobering lesson from the sudden death of her beloved
father: to count your blessings instead of your troubles.
I realized life is so short and precious. You should do things
that make you feel inspired, that push you and teach you something.
Id rather not have a big house, a huge closet of clothes, diamonds
and a private plane, but would rather have a body of work that Im
proud of and make my life as extraordinary as I can make it.