“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”
Gwyneth Kate Paltrow was born on this day in Los Angeles, California in 1972. She is 40 years old.
Paltrow has show business in her DNA. Her father, the late Bruce Paltrow, was a film producer and director, and her mother, Blythe Danner, is an Emmy and Tony Award winning actress. Brother, Jake, is following in his father’s footsteps as a director.
Gwyneth grew up in Santa Monica. The family moved to Massachusetts when she was 11 and she split her time there between summer stock at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires and the all girls Spence School in Manhattan during the winter.
“My playground was the theatre. I’d sit and watch my mother pretend for a living. As a young girl, that’s pretty seductive.” [Paltrow]
She flirted with Anthropology at the UC Santa Barbara, but Acting called and she dropped out.
At 19 she made her film debut in the movie Shout in which John Travolta plays a teacher at a West Texas home for boys who helps the kids learn to love music through the magic of Rock and Roll. She was Young Wendy in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. After a slew of made for television movies she returned to the big screen in 1995 in Se7en opposite then love interest Brad Pitt.
In 1996 she sparkled in the title role of Emma. It’s always a good career move to play a Jane Austen heroine in my opinion, and Paltrow did a delightful job with the role of Emma Woodhouse. [Emma is my first pick of Paltrow movies that you should put on your Netflix queue — if you don’t already own it.]Now a Hollywood a-lister, Paltrow had an impressive run of films in 1998; a modern version of Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke, Sliding Doors, A Perfect Murder (a remake of Dial M for Murder), Hush, and the magnificent Shakespeare in Love.
Paltrow plays Viola de Lesseps opposite Joseph Finnes’ Shakespeare in a story of mistaken identity, love, comedy and drama worthy the bard. With Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench and Collin Firth in supporting roles, Shakespeare in Love is fantastic. Paltrow and Dench won Oscars and the movie took home Best Picture. [Shakespeare in Love is my second Paltrow pick for your Netflix queue.]
She was in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley opposite Matt Damon and Jude Law in 1999.
In 2000 she showed the world that she could sing in Duets with Huey Lewis. Then played opposite her long time friend Ben Affleck in Bounce.
She had roles in the ensemble movies Anniversary Party & The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001. And co-starred with Jack Black in the comedy Shallow Hal.
Paltrow and Arron Eckhart played the sexiest literary researchers EVER in an adaptation of A.S. Byatt’s Possession. The pair uncover letters linking two Victorian writers (played by Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle.)Paltrow rather famously said:
“I don’t really understand the concept of having a career, or what agents mean when they say they’re building one for you. I just do things I think will be interesting and that have integrity.”
which explains the swings from serious/dramatic roles to the campy fun fest that dot her filmography. She took on poet Sylvia Path in Sylvia (Blythe Danner played her mother) then the next year she played reporter Polly Perkins in the highly stylized retro/sci fi Sky Captain and the World of Tommorow. Then it was back to serious Gwyneth for Proof.
She had small roles in Infamous, Love and Other Disasters, and Running With Scissors and a supporting role in The Good Night before landing the role of Pepper Potts in the big budget film Iron Man opposite Robert Downey, Jr.. She reprised the role in Iron Man 2 and in the Avengers. (And because you can never flog a dead horse too much… you can look for Pepper Potts AGAIN inIron Man 3 in 2013)
She brought out the pipes again for Country Strong where she played struggling country singer Kelly Canter. Here’s “Shake That Thing” from the movie:
Paltrow has had three guest spots on the popular television show Glee as substitute teacher Holly Holliday.
She had a small but pivital role in Contagion. The film also stars her Talented Mr. Ripley co stars Matt Damon and Jude Law, and her Possession co-star Jennifer Ehle. [Contagion is another movie you should put in your queue.]
This year you can see her in the romanic comedy Thanks for Sharing with Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins.