Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow has had quite the year in movies, and she remains one of the few actors who can easily go from doing a big budget blockbuster to a small independent movie with relative ease. In 2013, she returned to her role of Pepper Potts in “Iron Man 3” which ended up grossing over $1 billion worldwide, and now she plays a very different character in Stuart Blumberg’s directorial debut, “Thanks for Sharing.” It’s been almost twenty years since she made her cinematic breakthrough in “Seven,” and Paltrow remains as arresting an actress as ever.
I got to catch up with Paltrow when she was at the “Thanks for Sharing” press conference which I covered for the website We Got This Covered. In the movie she plays Phoebe, a woman who is as obsessed with exercising as she is with keeping the different foods on her dinner plate separate from one another. Phoebe ends up getting into a relationship with Adam (Mark Ruffalo) which is not lacking in chemistry in the least, but she has yet to realize that her new boyfriend is actually a sex addict who has just celebrated his fifth year of sobriety. It was the imperfections of her character that drew Paltrow to be in this movie.
“I loved the script when I read it, but one of the things I really was interested in is that she is a person who is holding all these judgments, and all of these judgments have helped her make this construct around herself,” said Paltrow. “Through compassion and empathy and a situation she never would’ve never imagined herself in, she starts to understand and have real self-awareness and reflectiveness. I think it’s such an amazing and essential human process to be brave and start to address your own shit. Mark Ruffalo’s shit looks dirtier, but actually it’s all the same and I thought it was a really interesting piece.”
“Thanks for Sharing” deals with three men who are at different stages of dealing with their sex addiction. This ended up getting someone to ask Paltrow if she would understand if her spouse turned out to be a sex addict. She’s been married to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin for about ten years now, but her answer to this question turned out to be quite refreshing.
“I’m an extremely open minded person, so I think if it was something I knew going into it and someone said, ‘Look this is part of who I am and what I’m dealing with,’ it wouldn’t keep me from exploring a relationship with somebody if I felt like everything else was lined up,” said Paltrow. “I think it will be hard for me to be one of those wives that, twenty years in, found out that it’s been going on behind your back for your whole life so you’re questioning what your life is. I think that would be harder for me. But if there is authenticity and honesty at the beginning, then I wouldn’t hold a judgment about it.”
Of course, this brings up the question of if she would remain faithful to her spouse if that same person ended up cheating on her. Granted, that would be a frustrating question to have to answer, but Paltrow in her response remained as defiant as she has ever been.
“I think that in life the idea is that if you’re committed to someone and you’re in a relationship that’s important to you, you surmount things,” Paltrow said. “I think for different couples it takes on different challenges, and I would like to think that I would be forgiving. It’s also something in that scenario I would know going in what I was signing up for.”
Then there came the inevitable question of whether she prefers to do smaller movies like “Thanks for Sharing” as opposed to big summer blockbusters like “Iron Man 3.” It would seem like a movie such as “Thanks for Sharing” would be more enjoyable for her as it seems to give her more freedoms to work with as an actor. With “Iron Man 3,” it’s easy to assume that the visual effects took on more importance than the human elements had to offer. Paltrow, however, made it clear where she stands on these different kinds of movies.
“I don’t prefer one over the other,” Paltrow said. “I loved doing ‘Iron Man’ and I love doing action. I had an amazing time doing special effects and I never really done that kind of thing before and I absolutely loved it. I also absolutely love working with these actors and saying these amazing words, so I’m very lucky that I get to do both.”
While she was doing press for “Iron Man 3,” Paltrow said that she really didn’t understand the elements of science fiction. Now this comment made die hard “Iron Man” fans take offense as if she didn’t have enough respect for the comic books that brought this movie franchise to life in the first place. But in the end Paltrow succeeded in clearing up how she felt about both kinds of movies.
“It’s not that I’m not interested; it’s just that I don’t get it. I’m not intelligent enough to appreciate sci-fi,” Paltrow said. “I think I’m missing something or maybe I just have a vagina (laughs). That may be the problem. But a movie like this, which is really about something, is very intriguing. I love doing the ‘Iron Man’ movies, don’t get me wrong, and I love working with Robert Downey Jr., but this kind of thing is just a whole other kettle of fish.”
With a movie like “Thanks for Sharing,” Paltrow gets to step outside of the superhero genre and into a story with characters that are refreshingly down to earth. But more importantly, it allows her to deal with something in life we should take more time to confront.
“I love the fact that this movie is about what we should all be doing which is bumping up against our damage and seeing what’s holding us back and keeping us from being whole people,” Paltrow said. “You can look for metaphors and stuff in a movie like ‘Iron Man’ about triumph and different archetypes, but with a movie like this it’s nice to do something that’s so intelligent and original and kind of forward.”
It’s nice to know that any actor, let alone Gwyneth Paltrow, can resist typecasting and be able to go from doing big budget movies to something smaller like “Thanks for Sharing.” It is incredible for any actor keep from getting typecast no matter who they are, but Paltrow has managed to get past that to where she can effectively play any character she chooses to regardless of what others want her to play. These days many have different opinions of Paltrow not just as an actress but as a person as well, but she remains a very talented actress who continues to give one unforgettable performance after another.
Ben Kenber, “Press Conference Interview With The Cast And Director Of Thanks For Sharing,” We Got This Covered, September 18, 2013.