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Tom Brook Saturday, 25 December, 1999, 09:42 GMT
The talented Miss Paltrow
The Talented Mr Ripley: Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law
By BBC News Online's Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook

In career terms, 1999 has been an extremely good year for Gwyneth Paltrow. She won the best actress Oscar, and now has a starring role in a new film coming out in the US on Christmas Day. She also has two new releases planned for 2000.

Oscar night - and the tears are flowing
The 26-year-old actress first won acclaim for her role in Emma in 1996, but it was her portrayal of Viola De Lesseps, the role that brought her an Oscar in Shakespeare in Love, that really transformed her into a major star.

When she won the Oscar last March she gave an extremely emotional and weepy acceptance speech.

Earlier this month, the actress whose blonde locks have now become brunette, sat calmly in the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles and explained why Oscar night was such an ordeal.

She said the whole experience was surreal.


I just couldn't handle it. It was just too much, it was just overwhelming

Gwyneth Paltrow on Oscar night
"I had such a difficult year. My grandfather was dying, my father was very sick, and I had all kinds of upheavals in my life.

"The night that I won I just couldn't handle it - it was just too much, it was just overwhelming. I guess I have spent the last few months trying to understand what it all means and incorporate it into who I am and to sort of rest, and it's been challenging."

As for the Oscar statuette, Paltrow still has that in storage because she finds the symbolism of winning an Academy Award overwhelming. But she thinks nabbing the trophy has helped, at least in terms of job offers and getting better pay.

Blonde no more: Gwyneth Paltrow, 2000-style
In her latest screen incarnation, she portrays Marge Sherwood, the girlfriend of an expatriate American playboy living in Italy in Anthony Minghella's adaptation of the thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley. Matt Damon stars as Tom Ripley, a deceptive sociopath.

Paltrow plays a woman whose accurate perceptions of Ripley are challenged by the male characters. As a result Marge Sherwood has the life within her crushed, and Paltrow says that is why she wanted the role.

"It was really the transformation that she undergoes," she said.

Oscars '99
"At the beginning of the film there is such a lightness about her and such a sweetness, and such an innocence, and watching the lights get dimmer and dimmer until they are sort of snuffed out inside her. I thought it was so tragic and so beautiful."

Paltrow has kept her feet on the ground by avoiding some overly commercial projects, aiming instead for art house films she believes in.

She has ended up doing some of her best work not in Hollywood but with British production crews and directors. To her, "in England it is about the art, it's about the vision of it, it's not about commerce."


It is about the art, it's about the vision of it, it's not about commerce. I feel very lucky to work there and to work with British people

Gwyneth Paltrow on working with UK directors
She added: "I've shot 3 films in England, and worked with an English director in Italy, and I really appreciate the English artistic sensibility.

"I think it is very specific and highly intelligent and I feel very lucky to work there and to work with British people."

Paltrow has become reluctant to discuss her private life after enduring the full glare of media scrutiny during highly publicised relationships with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck.

Paltrow with Matt Damon in Mr Ripley
She stars opposite Affleck in the forthcoming film Bounce. He portrays a guilt-ridden advertising executive who becomes involved with a widow, played by Paltrow.

Her other yet-to-be released film is Duets, which was directed by her father Bruce Paltrow. She describes it as "a road movie about karaoke singers".

"It is dark and it is funny, I am really proud of it, I really liked the film a lot."

Paltrow enjoyed being directed by her father.

She recalled: "Going into it, I thought this could be tricky. But my father is the best guy, he is really funny and we just had a laugh - it was really a good experience."

Paltrow can sit back at the end of 1999 knowing she is now considered top of her league by Hollywood agents and producers. They see her as a movie star package that has beauty and brains.

What Paltrow has in her favour is more than just looks. She is a really strong actress and many think her best screen work is still to come.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
'I just couldn't handle it'
Paltrow on her Oscar win
'I thought it was so tragic and beautiful'
Paltrow on The Talented Mr Ripley
'I am really proud of it'
Paltrow on her new film Duets
See also:

11 Apr 99 | Entertainment
22 Mar 99 | The Oscars 1999
17 Mar 99 | The Oscars 1999
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