Friday, May 24, 2024

Gwyneth Paltrow Reinvents Herself: From Oscar Ice Queen to Rock Star


A lot of actors and celebrities get stuck in public roles and wish they could reinvent themselves. Some have done it, but it’s a rarity.

No one could have expected Gwyneth Paltrow, 1999 Best Actress winner of the Academy Award for “Shakespeare in Love,” to pull something like this off. Known for that movie, for marrying Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and being a fashion icon, Paltrow had drifted as an actress. So many disappointing films followed “Shakespeare,” from “Bounce” to “Possession” and “A Year at the Top.”

It did seem like Paltrow’s acting career was on the verge of tanking. Granted, she was in both “Iron Man” movies. But for an actress who was supposed to be the second coming of Meryl Streep, something had gone wrong.

But then, bingo! Paltrow had sung very well with Huey Lewis in a film directed by her late father, Bruce Paltrow, called “Duet.” She and Lewis even had a hit covering Smokey Robinson’s “Cruising.”

A few years ago, at a benefit for Paul Newman‘s Blue Light Theater Group, Gwyneth sang with powerhouse Phoebe Snow and bowled over the audience. She obviously knew something we didn’t.

Now, as she promotes her new movie, “Country Strong,” Paltrow is suddenly hot stuff for the first time in 12 years. Covering CeeLo Green‘s “Forget You” on the hit TV show  “Glee,” Paltrow became an overnight sensation.  She really can sing– she’s got a sultry R&B voice and a good sense of humor. Then this week she rapped hilariously (again) with Jimmy Fallon on his show, where she’s become  a video parody rock star. Now she’s set for “Saturday Night Live,” on which she and Green will likely do a duet on “Forget You” (known more infamously as “F– You” as Green’s hit). Their performance will be an event.

All of this may not do much for “Country Strong.” It’s not an Oscar film, and the audience knows it’s been dumped into the cold clutches of January also-rans. But for Paltrow, it’s a surprising new career. And bravo to her! It took a lot of courage to reassess and reinvent. Paltrow’s success should give her peers confidence to try it themselves.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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