Being a mum obviously agrees with Gwyneth Paltrow. In person, she is radiant -- her skin flawless, glowing and gently tanned... Her newly curvaceous figure is highlighted in all black with a formfitting pencil skirt and a flattering cap-sleeve blouse. Her accessories are unfussy: On one hand she wears her wedding ring (she married Coldplay musician Chris Martin, 27, in a famously secret ceremony last December), on the other, a simple, yet funky, pearl-colored oversize ring.
She sips tea from a plain takeout cup while gamely fielding questions on the media, yoga and the strange circles she sported on her back this summer (from the Chinese alternative medicine called cupping). She chatters excitedly about how she convinced her close friend Stella McCartney to design costumes for her latest film. And she absolutely bubbles over when talking about "the most divine thing in the world" -- daughter Apple, born in May, who she affectionately calls Pomme, the French word for apple.
The 31-year-old daughter of actress Blythe Danner and producer/director Bruce Paltrow (who passed away in 2002), began her career with a small role in Shout (1991), and then appeared later that year as Wendy in Steven Spielberg's Hook. She made a few somewhat notable films after that (Flesh and Bone, Malice), but it was her relationship with sexy superstar Brad Pitt, who she met while filming Se7en (1995), that catapulted her to fame? initially. She went on to earn acclaim for her flawless British accent in Emma and appeared in a number of less notable films such as Jefferson in Paris and Moonlight and Valentino. But it wasn't until her Oscar-winning performance in 1998's Shakespeare in Love that Paltrow became better known for her acting than her boyfriends (who have included Ben Affleck, Luke Wilson and Donovan Leitch in addition to ex-fiancé Pitt). Who can forget her tearful acceptance speech -- and her sweet, yet unfortunately ill-fitting, pink Ralph Lauren gown?
She worked with Jude Law for the first time in the acclaimed 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley, playing his character's girlfriend, Marge. After some unmemorable films (Shallow Hal, Duets and View from the Top, to name a few) and some memorable ones (like The Royal Tenenbaums and Sylvia), Gwyneth reunited with Jude for this fall's groundbreaking Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
In Sky Captain, Gwyneth plays reporter Polly Perkins to Jude's aviator hero Joe Sullivan. Joe and Polly, who have a romantic history, are thrown back together in a quest to investigate the mysterious disappearance of noted scientists around the world. The resulting bickering between the former lovers creates a dynamic that's both comedic and sexually charged. It's an old-fashioned love story made all the better by backdrops reminiscent of the golden age of 1930s cinema.
Offscreen, Jude and Gwyneth have a mutual admiration society. He says of her, "She's so much fun, you know? She's got incredible humor, incredible tolerance and an incredible natural intuition." And the mere mention of Jude's name causes Gwyneth's face to light up as she recalls working with him?
Sky Captain is your second movie with Jude Law. Was that a draw?
Oh, definitely. Jude and I have a very good chemistry onscreen. There's an ease between us -- we're friends. He's such a lovely person, and I just adore him. [beams] I was so proud that he was finally going to do a starring role in a film.
Are there any characters or actors you patterned Sky Captain's Polly after?
It wasn't a specific performance, but it reminds me a little bit of Bringing Up Baby or Philadelphia Story. Sort of a Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Lauren Bacall -- that kind of '40s broad that you see when you're watching AMC at night.
Your Sky Captain character is kind of a pain. What do you think of her?
Well, she's a sneaky reporter, so what do you think I think of her? [laughs] There are obviously things about her that are not likable, but then, as the movie goes on, you see her get more vulnerable, and you see how in love she is with Joe. Next to Angelina Jolie, she becomes unsure of herself, awkward, and you get a sense of who she really is. Then I liked her better.
Sky Captain was filmed entirely against a blue screen with effects added in later. What was it like to film the scene where you are surrounded by giant robots?
It was totally absurd. That was the day when I thought: What am I getting myself into? [laughs] There was an orange ball on the end of a pole, and they're like, "Okay, the robot is to your left, and it falls down?" I never thought I'd be in this scenario. I never imagined that I'd be running away from robots, but there you go.
Stella McCartney's costumes in Sky Captain were beautiful. Did you feel that they added to the character?
Definitely. I felt that Stella really interpreted it perfectly. [Coproducer and Jude's former wife] Sadie [Frost] and I literally felt like the costumes had to be a major element in the film. Sadie was like, "We should get Stella to do it." Stella's one of my three best friends in London, so we were like, "Please, please, please do the costumes." And Stella just came up with this amazing look. She took that 1939 silhouette but made it modern, which is exactly what we knew she would do.
While you were pregnant, you said you might not be acting for a while. Where do you stand now?
Pretty much the same way. I may do a little part in [director] Doug McGrath's next movie -- he's doing a movie about Truman Capote, and he asked me to do a one-day part in it. That's really it. We'll see.
Do you think you might not ever act again in a starring role?
I don't think I'll never act again in a starring role. I just think that I'll be judicious about what it is that I do and when I go back to work. If you have a baby like mine -- who's the most divine thing in the world [smiles] -- you just can't imagine going away or working 14 hours a day and missing her life. Speaking to other women I know, I'm sure that maybe in six months or a year or nine months, I'll miss expressing myself creatively, and I may want to do it, so I'm just trying not to make a plan or judge myself. Right now, I want to be with her --all the time. I'll just see how it goes. But I'm sure I'll work again at some point.
Your relationship with your fans and the media is ever-changing. Have both parties become more mean-spirited over the years?
I'm not really sure because I don't read any press. I don't think it's healthy. I feel like I'm very open in terms of talking about certain things, but when it comes to talking about my relationships, that's pretty much the only thing that I won't put on display in any way because it's one thing that's sacred. It's between my husband and myself, and there's just no reason to give details about domestic life in that way. It just goes against my instincts to do it. Chris is superprivate, and he really is not into it, so I have to also be respectful of him.
Photographers followed you when you were pregnant and this appeared to upset Chris, but you seemed to accept it as part of the deal. Was there conflict between you two over how to deal with it?
Well, yeah. [sighs] I don't think you can underestimate how a husband feels when his eight-months-pregnant wife is being chased by a pack of men. It's not great. [laughs] It obviously throws up a certain protective instinct and a lot of anger about it. It's difficult because it is part of being a famous person, and you get this incredible life and these incredible opportunities. But then you also have these jerks sitting outside your house 24 hours a day and following you, which is a terrible, terrible feeling, and it really can wind you up. It's an ever-changing dynamic, like, How do I deal with this today? How do I try not to get upset about it?
You have Proof coming up this fall. Are you excited about it?
I'm thrilled. I just never worked so hard in my life, I think! [laughs] I adore [director] John Madden, and Hope Davis is incredible in it. I had a great time working with her -- it was like a real relationship on film. They did a really good job adapting it from theater for a screenplay. I'm just very proud of it.
Have you resumed your yoga? And what about the cupping?
Oh, the cupping! [laughs] I can't believe how dumb I am -- I didn't realize that I had those marks on my back when I went out. I'm very into Chinese medicine and the concept that you can keep yourself healthy, as opposed to waiting until you're sick and then going to get Western prescriptions for antibiotics or things that are really hard on our organs. I love Chinese medicine like acupuncture and cupping. It sorts me out. And yes, the yoga has now come back, thank goodness. It took a while. I still lack a lot of strength, but it's coming.
What about fashion? Has that gone from your life because you're a mom now?
I'm still sort of conceptually interested, but I don't have the time in my day now to really pull it together. Unless I'm going to work like today? I think: Uh-oh, I need to find something to wear.
Sounds like this new mum's got her priorities straight.