Gwyneth Kate Paltrow (/’?w?n?? ‘pæltro?/; born September 27, 1972) is an American actress, singer, and food writer.
Paltrow gained early notice for her work in films such as the psychological thriller Seven (1995), opposite Brad Pitt and the period drama Emma (1996), opposite Ewan McGregor. Following starring roles in the romantic comedy-drama Sliding Doors (1998) and the thriller A Perfect Murder (1998), Paltrow garnered worldwide recognition through her performance in Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, for Outstanding Lead Actress and as a member of the Outstanding Cast. Paltrow has portrayed supporting, as well as lead roles, in films such as The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Shallow Hal (2001), and Proof (2005), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress in Motion Picture Drama.
Since 2008 she has portrayed Pepper Potts, the love interest of Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), and Iron Man 3 (2013). She also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2011 for her role as Holly Holliday on the Fox hit TV show Glee in the episode “The Substitute”.
Following high-profile relationships with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck, Paltrow married Chris Martin, the lead vocalist of Coldplay, in 2003; they have two children. Paltrow and Martin announced their separation in March 2014. Paltrow has been the face of Estée Lauder’s Pleasures perfume since 2005. Paltrow is also the face of American fashion brand Coach, owner of a lifestyle company, and author of two cookbooks.
Early life and education
Paltrow was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actress Blythe Danner and film producer/director Bruce Paltrow. Her father was Jewish and her mother is from a Christian background, and Paltrow was raised with “both Jewish and Christian holidays” (her brother had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony). Her father’s Ashkenazi family immigrated from Belarus and Poland, while her mother has Pennsylvania Dutch (German), and some white Barbadian (English), ancestry. Paltrow’s paternal great-great-grandfather, whose surname was “Paltrowicz,” was a rabbi in Nowogród, Poland. Paltrow has a younger brother, Jake Paltrow, and is a half-cousin of actress Katherine Moennig (through her mother), and a second cousin of former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08) (through her father). Her uncle is opera singer and actor Harry Danner.
Paltrow was raised in Santa Monica, where she attended Crossroads School before enrolling in the Spence School, a private girls’ school in New York City. Later, she briefly studied anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before dropping out to act. She is an “adopted daughter” of Talavera de la Reina (Spain), where at 15 she spent a year as an exchange student and learned to speak Spanish.
1989-95: Early acting work
Her acting debut was in High (1989), a TV film her father directed, and after spending several summers watching her mother perform at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, Paltrow made her professional stage debut there in 1990. Her film debut followed with Shout (1991), starring John Travolta; and she was cast by Steven Spielberg in his film Hook (1991) as the young Wendy Darling.
Paltrow’s next roles were in the made-for-television movies Cruel Doubt (1992) and Deadly Relations (1993). Her first plum feature film role was in the noir drama Flesh and Bone (1993) as the much-younger girlfriend of James Caan. In 1995, she played Brad Pitt’s wife in the hit thriller Se7en. Her performance earned her a Satellite Award nomination. Also in 1995, she appeared in Moonlight and Valentino and Jefferson in Paris.
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1996-2001: Breakthrough and film stardom
In 1996, Paltrow played the title character in Emma to critical acclaim, particularly in the United Kingdom, where her perfection of the English accent was appreciated. She had leading roles in several films throughout 1998, including Sliding Doors and the adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations with Ethan Hawke, Robert De Niro, Anne Bancroft and Chris Cooper. She also appeared in two thrillers, Hush, opposite Jessica Lange, and A Perfect Murder, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film, Dial M for Murder. In the latter film, Paltrow starred opposite Michael Douglas, playing Emily Taylor, who was based on Grace Kelly’s character from the original film, though the film was met with mixed reviews. She was also considered for the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater in the 1997 film Titanic.
In 1998, Paltrow starred in Shakespeare in Love, portraying the fictional lover of William Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes. The film earned US$289 million in box office receipts, and Paltrow gained critical acclaim for her portrayal. Entertainment Weekly commented, “Best of all is Gwyneth Paltrow, who, at long last, has a movie to star in that’s as radiant as she is.” The New York Times summed up her performance as Viola thus: “Gwyneth Paltrow, in her first great, fully realized starring performance, makes a heroine so breathtaking that she seems utterly plausible as the playwright’s guiding light.”
The award-winning Shakespeare in Love earned Paltrow the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role from the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and the Academy Award for Best Actress, among other honors. Her Pink Ralph Lauren dress worn at the 71st Academy Awards in collecting her Oscar was extremely popular and was credited for bringing pink back into fashion.
In 1999, Paltrow co-starred alongside Jude Law, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett in The Talented Mr. Ripley, which earned $80 million domestically and received positive reviews. She showcased her singing ability in 2000’s Duets, which was directed by her father and co-starred singer Huey Lewis. The same year, Paltrow co-starred with Ben Affleck in the romantic drama Bounce as Abby Janello. In 2001, she played Margot Tenenbaum as part of an ensemble cast in the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums and starred with Jack Black in the comedy Shallow Hal, where she had to wear a specially designed 25-pound fatsuit and heavy make-up.
2002-07: Career slowdown
Since the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, Paltrow’s film career has been less noteworthy and critical acclaim has waned. She said she was unequipped for the pressure, leading to several bad movie choices, agreeing with peers who believe the win is, in some ways, a curse. During this time, Paltrow rarely appeared in films, having taken a hiatus to raise her two children. In The Guardian, she said she divided her career into movies for love and films for money: The Royal Tenenbaums, Proof, and Sylvia fell into the former category, while she did View from the Top and Shallow Hal for the latter.
In 2004, she appeared in the science-fiction film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow opposite Jude Law. The same year, she was recognized as an outstanding woman in entertainment by Women in Film Los Angeles with the Crystal Award. In 2005, she appeared in the film Proof as the depressed daughter of a brilliant, eccentric mathematician. The movie is based on the play of the same name, in which Paltrow also played the same character at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 2002. For her performance Paltrow earned her second Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama. In 2006, she had small roles in Running with Scissors and Infamous, in which she sang Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?”.
2008-present: Iron Man and Glee
In 2008, she appeared in the superhero film Iron Man as Pepper Potts, Tony Stark’s personal assistant, closest friend, and budding love interest. Iron Man was Paltrow’s highest-grossing film to date, earning more than $585,000,000 worldwide, until she reprised her role as Potts in Joss Whedon’s 2012 epic, The Avengers, which grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. Paltrow said she was hesitant to appear in a big-budget project but she was won over by Robert Downey, Jr., the film’s lead, and director Jon Favreau. She recalled a conversation with Downey, saying:
“Robert called me and he said, ‘This is gonna be fun, and this is gonna be good.’ And then he said to me, ‘Don’t you want to be in a movie that people see?’ And I was like, ‘Whoa! What would that feel like?’ And he’s right. Moviemaking is not supposed to be a masturbatory exercise; it’s supposed to be shared by other people.”
In 2010, Paltrow reprised her role in the sequel to Iron Man, Iron Man 2. Later in 2010, she appeared in the musical Country Strong and recorded the song Country Strong for the film’s soundtrack. The song was released to country radio in August 2010. At the 83rd Academy Awards, Paltrow performed another song from the movie, “Coming Home,” which was nominated for Best Original Song.
Paltrow also appeared in Fox’s Glee, as substitute teacher Holly Holliday, who fills in for Matthew Morrison’s character when he falls ill. In her first episode, “The Substitute,” she sang “Nowadays” from the musical Chicago with Lea Michele, Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”, and a mash-up of “Singin’ In the Rain” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella” with Morrison and the rest of the cast. She later performed “Forget You” with Cee Lo Green himself and several puppet characters provided by The Jim Henson Company at the 2011 Grammy Awards. She reprised her role twice more that season, performing “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” by Gary Glitter, an acoustic version of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, “Kiss” by Prince, and Adele’s “Turning Tables”.
In 2011, Paltrow appeared in the Steven Soderbergh thriller Contagion, in which she was part of an ensemble cast, including Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and her The Talented Mr. Ripley co-stars Matt Damon and Jude Law. The movie opened at number 1 at the US Box Office Weekend and received positive reviews. In 2012 she starred in the independent romantic comedy Thanks for Sharing with Mark Ruffalo and reprised her role as Pepper Potts in the film The Avengers, which broke records as the highest grossing U.S. opening weekend film of all time. It was confirmed that Paltrow will star as Dora Maar in Carlos Saura’s Spanish film 33 días alongside Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso. The film began shooting in late 2012, for a 2013 release.
In April 2013, Paltrow was named People magazine’s annual “Most Beautiful Woman”. In 2015, she co-starred in the film Mortdecai, alongside Johnny Depp, Olivia Munn, and Paul Bettany.
Paltrow is a Save the Children artist ambassador, raising awareness about World Pneumonia Day. She is on the board of the Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization that works to alleviate poverty in New York City. In February 2009, Paltrow received a Grammy nomination for her reading of the classic bear books of author Bill Martin, Jr.
Paltrow had her singing debut in the 2000 film Duets, in which she performed a cover version of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin'”. The song was released as a single. The song went to number one in Australia, while Paltrow’s rendition of the Kim Carnes classic “Bette Davis Eyes” reached number three. In the 2006 film Infamous, she sang “What Is This Thing Called Love”. On September 27, 2006, Paltrow sang with rapper Jay-Z during his concert at Royal Albert Hall. She sang the chorus for “Song Cry”, from the rapper’s album Blueprint. In an interview, she said she would be at the concert but not that she would perform. She was quoted as saying “I’m a Jay-Z fan. He’s my best friend.”
In May 2005, Paltrow became the face of Estée Lauder’s Pleasures perfume. She appeared in Chicago on August 17, 2007, to sign bottles of the perfume, and on July 8, 2008, she promoted Lauder’s Sensuous perfume in New York with the company’s three other models. Estée Lauder donates a minimum of $500,000 of sales of items from the ‘Pleasures Gwyneth Paltrow’ collection to breast cancer research. In 2006, she became the face for Bean Pole International, a Korean fashion brand.
In April 2009, Paltrow narrated Brown Bear & Friends, the first of several children’s audiobooks that she would narrate by Bill Martin. The Brown Bear & Friends audiobook received a Grammy nomination in 2009 for Best Spoken Word Album for Children. Since, she has also narrated Bill Martin’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?.
In 2014 Paltrow partnered with Blo Blow Bar, teaming up with the brand’s creative branch.
In October 2014, she hosted a Democratic fundraiser attended by President Barack Obama at her private residence in Los Angeles.
Food writing and Goop
In October 2007 Paltrow signed for the PBS television series Spain… on the Road Again, which showcases the food and culture of Spain.
In September 2008 she launched the weekly lifestyle newsletter Goop, encouraging readers to ‘nourish the inner aspect’. The website’s title is derived from her initials. Each week, the newsletter focuses on an action: Make, Go, Get, Do, Be, and See.
In 2008 she co-wrote the book Spain… A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali. In 2011, she wrote a book titled My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness. That same year she penned the book Notes From the Kitchen Table. Two years later she published a book titled It’s All Good: Delicious Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. That year she wrote a foreword for a book by Ross Matthews titled Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence.
At the age of 24, Paltrow was engaged to actor Brad Pitt, whom she dated from 1994 to 1997. The engagement was called off, according to Paltrow, because she was not ready for marriage, and she later felt responsible for hurting Pitt since she was “such a mess” during that time in her life. Paltrow has since said that, as this was her first high-profile relationship with another celebrity, it taught her the need for public discretion about her romantic life; she told Biography magazine, “I said things about being in a relationship [with Brad Pitt] that felt wrong to me even as I was saying them.”
Paltrow had an on-off three-year relationship with actor Ben Affleck from 1997 to late 2000. They first broke up in early 1999 but, soon after their breakup, Paltrow managed to persuade Affleck to star in the film Bounce with her; during the making of the film, which was shot in mid-1999, the couple started dating again and eventually broke up in October 2000.
In October 2002, Paltrow met Chris Martin of the British rock group Coldplay backstage three weeks after the death of her father, Bruce Paltrow. They married on December 5, 2003, in a ceremony at a hotel in Southern California. Paltrow and Martin have two children together: daughter Apple Blythe Alison Martin (b. 2004) and son Moses Bruce Anthony Martin (b. 2006). Paltrow explained Apple’s unusual first name on Oprah, saying: “It sounded so sweet and it conjured such a lovely picture for me – you know, apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome and it’s biblical – and I just thought it sounded so lovely and … clean! And I just thought, ‘Perfect!’.” She explained her son’s first name came from the song, “Moses”, that her husband wrote for her before their wedding. Paltrow’s father came from a long line of influential Eastern European rabbis, and that inspired Paltrow to raise her daughter and son in a Jewish environment. Paltrow has stated, “if you could see how much food I make – I am the original Jewish mother”. Paltrow cut down on work after becoming a mother. She also suffered from postpartum depression after the 2006 birth of her son. In March 2014, Paltrow announced that she and Martin had separated after ten years of marriage, describing the process as “conscious uncoupling”.
In August 2014, Paltrow started dating Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk.
- Paltrow, Gwyneth (2011). My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness. Grand Central Life & Style. ISBN 978-0446557313.
- Paltrow, Gwyneth (2013). It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. Grand Central Life & Style. ISBN 978-1455522712.
- Paltrow, Gwyneth (2011). Notes from My Kitchen Table. Grand Central Life & Style. ISBN 978-0752227894.