Gwyneth Paltrow: Robert Downey Jr. Helped Me Play An Addict

In her new movie Country Strong, Gwyneth Paltrow plays a celebrated country singer who falls into a downward spiral of alcohol and drugs. In real life, however, Paltrow is famously obsessed with staying healthy. She's about as far from the Celebrity Rehab crowd as you can get. So when it came time to prepare for her character's rock-bottom scenes, Paltrow turned to a friend who had actually been there.

"I just couldn't understand how you could be so drunk that you could wreck people's lives and then wake up the next day and pretend everything was fine," says Paltrow, 38.

The actress, who says she "struggled with" understanding her character's addictions, asked her Iron Man co-star Robert Downey Jr. for advice. Downey, 45, has actually lived the dramatic arc of Paltrow's Country Strong character: he fell from superstardom (late 80's/early 90's) into a period of addiction, jail and rehab (late '90s), followed by a brilliant -- and sober -- comeback. Paltrow says that his perspective on drug addiction was invaluable.

"I asked Robert, 'How does this work?'" says Paltrow. "He was really articulate about addiction and the psychology behind it. He really helped me a lot."

Beyond the addiction aspects, Paltrow really connected with her character -- especially her insecurities about being a middle-aged woman in the entertainment industry. (Leighton Meester plays Paltrow's much-younger rival.)

"I loved playing a woman who was feeling her age and worried about the young twenty-something coming up and stealing her thunder," says the Academy Award winner -- who, judging from her awesome performance at November's Country Music Awards, doesn't have to worry about anybody stealing her thunder!

Country Strong arrives in theaters on Wednesday.

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