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Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow distinguished herself from the pack of rising young stars in the 1990s with mature performances in "Se7en" (1995) and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), for which she received well-deserved critical praise. With her sharp intelligence and her fair, patrician looks, Paltrow earned comparisons to Grace Kelly as she carved out a steady niche in British period dramas like "Emma" (1996), but kept audiences guessing with occasional comedies like "Shallow Hal" (2001) and richly drawn portraits of complex women, including the fur-wearing eccentric sister in Wes Anderson's "Royal Tenenbaums" (2001). Though she excelled in films like "Proof" (2005), in which she reprised her acclaimed West End role as the troubled daughter of a late mathematics genius, Paltrow also made time for big budget studio films, including the comic book-based "Iron Man" (2008) and other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which she played plucky reporter (and Tony Stark love interest) Pepper Potts. The graceful and poised New York-bred actress also emerged as an admired style icon and portrait of the cool, modern woman who had it all, including a family with Chris Martin of...
Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow distinguished herself from the pack of rising young stars in the 1990s with mature performances in "Se7en" (1995) and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), for which she received well-deserved critical praise. With her sharp intelligence and her fair, patrician looks, Paltrow earned comparisons to Grace Kelly as she carved out a steady niche in British period dramas like "Emma" (1996), but kept audiences guessing with occasional comedies like "Shallow Hal" (2001) and richly drawn portraits of complex women, including the fur-wearing eccentric sister in Wes Anderson's "Royal Tenenbaums" (2001). Though she excelled in films like "Proof" (2005), in which she reprised her acclaimed West End role as the troubled daughter of a late mathematics genius, Paltrow also made time for big budget studio films, including the comic book-based "Iron Man" (2008) and other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which she played plucky reporter (and Tony Stark love interest) Pepper Potts. The graceful and poised New York-bred actress also emerged as an admired style icon and portrait of the cool, modern woman who had it all, including a family with Chris Martin of Coldplay fame (prior to their 2016 divorce) - but not before several high-profile relationships with the likes of Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt made her tabloid fodder. Though sometimes criticized for being a bit too urbane, particularly after she launched GOOP.com, which touted high-end products out of reach for the average person, this daughter of Hollywood nonetheless remained one of the more compelling actresses of her generation.
Gwyneth Paltrow was born in Los Angeles on Sept. 27, 1972, the daughter of TV producer Bruce Paltrow and Tony-winning stage and screen actress Blythe Danner. Her arts-loving parents moved the family to New York City when she was 11 years old, resulting in Paltrow and her younger brother Jake being towed (sometimes against their will) to downtown experimental theater productions and uptown operas. After spending countless summers watching her mother perform at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, Paltrow made her own professional stage debut there in 1990; the same year she graduated from the exclusive Spence School. From her Upper East Side townhouse, Paltrow headed back to California and a semester at the University of California in Santa Barbara before deciding that she really preferred to be down in her hometown pursuing an acting career.
Paltrow landed her first screen role in the film "Shout" (1991), and family friend Steven Spielberg cast her as the young Wendy in his family favorite "Hook" (1991). That summer, Paltrow also shared the stage with her mother in a Williamstown production of "Picnic" (1991). She was cast first in the 1992 true crime NBC miniseries "Cruel Doubt" before her mother was tapped to play her on-screen parent. With a supporting role in 1993's "Flesh and Bone" as a Texas con woman traveling with the much older James Caan, Paltrow first displayed her uncanny knack for accents, earning the lion's share of critical kudos. She followed up with a series of finely-tuned supporting turns, first as a tart-tongued actress in the ensemble of Alan Rudolph's "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" (1994) and next as the ambassador's knowing daughter in the Merchant-Ivory production "Jefferson in Paris" (1995). It was that same year that the young actress stepped out from under her look-a-like mother's considerable shadow. David Fincher cast Paltrow as the loving wife of a homicide detective in the hit thriller "Seven" (1995), which not only gave the actress her first high-profile role, but also introduced her to co-star Brad Pitt, at that time, the hottest actor in the business. The pair's well-publicized romance arguably introduced her to a wider audience than her acting work had done thus far - thanks in large part to tabloid exposure and nude photos of the couple lounging on a beach - and grouped her with the exclusive club of gorgeous up-and-comers of the late 1990s.
Paltrow made her first foray into comedy with the David Schwimmer vehicle "The Pallbearer" (1996), before solidifying her reputation as a star-in- the-making with a superb turn as Jane Austen's meddling heroine in "Emma" (1996). Her dead-on English accent even left the uninitiated convinced that she was British and put to rest any preexisting thoughts of nepotism or famous boyfriends playing a role in her success. In an about-face from genteel to gritty, she played a Reno cocktail waitress and part-time hooker in Paul Thomas Anderson's directorial debut "Hard Eight" (1996). Paltrow celebrated a year well done by cementing her super couple status and becoming engaged to marry Pitt, but by spring of the following year the couple announced their split.
By 1998, the actress who had often been compared to Grace Kelly for her fluid movements, pale beauty and elegant fashion style, easily slipped into Kelly's role in a loose remake of Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder" (1954), "A Perfect Murder." Paltrow was alluring as a wealthy philandering wife, though much of the film's ink was devoted to her questionable May-December pairing with Michael Douglas, who was actually a family friend Paltrow had known since she was young. The misstep was soon forgotten in the face of her triumph as a 16th-century woman who yearns for romance and poetry rather than arranged marriage in Tom Stoppard's "Shakespeare in Love." Her spirited outing as the Bard's muse garnered her Best Actress Oscar and SAG wins, as well as Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. Creating almost as much buzz was the timeless pink gown she wore to the Academy Awards, designed specifically for her by Ralph Lauren. Walking the red carpet with her father, Paltrow dazzled fans and solidified the Grace Kelly comparisons by wearing a similar dress to what the late actress wore when she won her Oscar for "The Country Girl" (1954).
At the same time every chic ensemble she donned made fashion news, she also embarked on a short-lived romance with "Shakespeare" co-star Ben Affleck, which set the tabloids on fire. Apart from her high-wattage relationship, all eyes remained planted squarely on the actress of the year, as she catapulted to the top of many best-dressed lists for a personal flair that reflected her modern, casual sophistication.
In Paltrow's first post-Oscar performance, she was cool and conniving in a murderous Italian-set love triangle with Matt Damon and Jude Law in Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel. A first-time collaboration with her director father, "Duets" (2000), offered the popular actress a chance to show off her considerable singing talents in the thin tale of a father-daughter team of karaoke hustlers. Paltrow found herself an unwitting pop star when a cover of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" performed by her and screen dad Huey Lewis made its way onto the music charts. Later that year, she co-starred with former flame Affleck in Don Roos' "Bounce," turning in a convincing performance in a rare blue-collar role. It was in large part to Paltrow's influence that Affleck was cast in the dramatic lead role of a man riddled with guilt after giving up his seat on a doomed plane to Paltrow's husband. Paltrow herself stepped outside her comfort zone by following up the somber "Bounce" with the lead role in the Farrelly Brothers comedy "Shallow Hal" (2001), donning a fat suit to teach Jack Black's character a lesson about inner beauty. Paltrow came under fire by some for her role in the surprisingly gentle romance, which required her to wear prosthetics as the 300-pound character her suitor Hal cannot see.
Paltrow made a return to indie fare in Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001). The actress was a seamless fit in Anderson's quirky world, with her appropriately reined-in performance as the enigmatic and uncommunicative playwright Margot. She likewise gave a rich performance in Jennifer Jason Leigh's and Alan Cummings' ensemble piece "The Anniversary Party" (2001), sending up her image as Hollywood's "golden girl" in her portrayal of an up-and-coming starlet and uninvited party guest of aging (and jealous) actress Leigh. In 2002, Paltrow made her West End debut in David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a young woman who has sacrificed much of her life caring for her father, a brilliant but schizophrenic mathematician (Anthony Hopkins), whose death leaves her wondering whether she has inherited his genius or his madness.
Tapped again for her believability in an academic setting, Paltrow co-starred with Aaron Eckhart as competing scholars investigating the possible romance between the 18th-century writers in Neil LaBute's adaptation of A.S. Byatt's novel, "Possession" (2002). Sadly, at year's end Paltrow lost her father - with whom she was extremely close - to complications of pneumonia and recurring throat cancer; in fact, the pair had been on a father/daughter vacation in Italy to celebrate her 30th birthday only days before. Paltrow was devastated by the loss in her uncommonly close family, but banded together with mom Danner in mother-daughter roles as renowned poet Sylvia Plath and her mother Aurelia in the British-produced biopic of the ill-fated literary icon, "Sylvia" (2003). During Paltrow's emotionally trying year, the actress met Chris Martin, frontman of the British rock band Coldplay, backstage at a concert. The pair formed an intense romance that led to marriage only a year later.
A pregnant Paltrow managed to complete filming of the retro-styled action adventure "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (2004), before the couple's daughter Apple was born in May of 2004. The new mom and her co-star Jude Law earned good reviews and sizeable box office receipts for the tale of Sky Captain (Law) and intrepid reporter Polly Perkins (Paltrow) fending off giant robots in 1930s-era New York. However after "Sky Captain," relocated London resident Paltrow began to limit her film work, only surfacing in 2005 to revise her acclaimed London stage role in the film adaptation "Proof" (2005). In 2006, Paltrow enjoyed a supporting role in "Infamous," that year's second biopic about Truman Capote, and another supporting role in the unsuccessful adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' memoir, "Running with Scissors."
Paltrow gave birth to a son, Moses, in the spring of 2006 and returned to star billing in 2008 with the heavily marketed comic book adaptation of "Iron Man," in which she sparkled as Pepper Potts, the woman behind Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who leads a double life as an ironclad crime fighter. Also that year, she launched a weekly online newsletter called GOOP, which focused on her upscale lifestyle and encouraged readers to "nourish the inner aspect," while they "Make, Go, Get, Do, Be and See." The website featured everything from recipes for holiday leftovers and her travels to Europe, to advice on how to invest money and what to expect while undergoing a three-week cleansing program. The site was widely ridiculed by several media outlets, which slammed the actress for preening about having a high-flying lifestyle most others could never even dream of. Meanwhile, she went back to what she did best, starring in the romantic drama "Two Lovers" (2009), playing the neighbor of a suicidal man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with her despite her romance with a married man (Elias Koteas). Paltrow's performance earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead. She next reprised Pepper Potts for the highly anticipated sequel, "Iron Man 2" (2010). She repeated the role in both "The Avengers" (2012) and "Iron Man 3" (2013). On the small screen, she joined the cavalcade of guest stars on the pop phenomenon, "Glee" (Fox, 2009-15), playing a substitute teacher who fills in for glee club leader Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). She later reprised the high-profile role and earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Meanwhile, back in features, she joined a cast that included Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet and Jude Law for Steven Soderbergh's disease thriller "Contagion" (2011). She next appeared on the big screen in the romantic comedy "Thanks For Sharing" (2012) opposite Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins.
On March 25, 2014, Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their separation via Paltrow's website, following months of speculation about the state of their marriage. (The couple's divorce was finalized in 2016; Paltrow married "Glee" producer Brad Falchuk in September 2018.) Keeping a low public profile amidst the ongoing gossip-column notoriety, Paltrow's next film appearance came in the critically-assailed Johnny Depp comedy/mystery "Mortdecai" (2015) before she returned as Pepper Potts in a small role in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017). Paltrow also appeared in Jonathan Demme's concert documentary "Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids" (2016) and in Ali Wentworth's celebrity-skewering mockumentary "Nightcap" (Pop 2016- ), as well as a stint as a reality show judge on the streaming series "Planet of the Apps" (Apple Music 2017). Paltrow next reprised her role as Pepper Potts in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017) and "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018).
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