Movie Talk

Gwyneth Paltrow’s 40th birthday: celebrate her career highlights and lowlights

Movie Talk

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Gwyneth Paltrow (Photo: Reuters/Mike Cassese)

Gwyneth Paltrow has been in almost as many films as years she has now been alive. As Paltrow turns 40 on Thursday, we noticed that she has appeared in 41 films (counting the two she is working on now). Some of them have been truly great while others have been, er, not so hot.

Paltrow had a great inside contact into the industry when she was young -- her father, the late television writer-director-producer Bruce Paltrow -- who later produced and directed one of her films "Duets." The Paltrows were friends of the Spielbergs, which led to one of Gwyneth's very first film roles as the young Wendy in Steven Spielberg's 1991 "Peter Pan" adaptation, "Hook."

Here is a snapshot of Paltrow's enduring film career, warts and all:

Highlights Lowlights
"Se7en" --  Paltrow's breakthrough role was in this 1995 David Fincher crime thriller about a serial killer with an elaborate message. She played the wife of Brad Pitt -- who she became romantically involved with off camera -- and wound up being an extremely integral character in the film's shocking and climactic ending. Can you sing "Head in a Box"? "Duets" -- For every breakthrough role there's a box office bomb around the corner. This was the case for Paltrow who starred in an ill fated film in 2000 about -- wait for it -- karaoke. What was she thinking!? Note to self, never star in a film opposite Huey Lewis. By the way, "Duets" only made $4.7 million in the U.S. (And it cost $15 million to make!) Ouch.
"Shakespeare in Love" -- Paltrow won an Oscar for her performance as the gender-bending Viola De Lesseps, who disguised herself as a man to appear in a play put on by Shakespeare himself (Joseph Fiennes). The 1998 romantic comedy was an Oscar darling, raking in seven Academy Awards including one for Best Picture. "Shallow Hal" -- For some reason Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black just don't seem to mix. The 2001 Farrelly brothers comedy was Paltrow's foray into the more slapstick side of comedy that Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers called, " little more than a series of fat jokes." Still, "Hal" managed to make its numbers at the box office, so it wasn't a total career staller.
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" -- This '50s-and-Europe-set drama starred a dream team of rising late-nineties actors including Matt Damon (as the deceitful Ripley), Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paltrow herself. Arguably the most in her element, Paltrow played a fashionable, high society girlfriend of Princeton grad Dickie (Jude Law). Another example of a highlight wherein Paltrow played among an ensemble cast is "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001). "Sylvia" -- This 2003 biographical drama in which Paltrow portrays the tormented mind of poet Sylvia Plath was widely panned by critics. Luckily for Paltrow the script was blamed more than her performance. Hey, at least she got to play the romantic-yet-tortured interest of Daniel Craig (who played poet Ted Hughes).
"Iron Man" -- Whenever Ms. Paltrow needs a pick-me-up, all she has to do is think about the $1 billion-plus dollars raked in by the ongoing "Iron Man" franchise (not to mention her role in wildly successful spinoff "The Avengers"). Paltrow plays Pepper Potts (say that quickly, five times in a row) -- the trusted business partner of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). While "Iron Man 3" is yet to be complete, more of that moola is due to flow her way when the movie comes out in May, 2013. "Thanks for Sharing" -- Paltrow plays a recovering sex addict along side Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Pink (yes, the pop star) in this dramedy. What could possibly go wrong!? Apparently almost everything -- except for Pink's performance -- according to critics who saw the premiere of the film at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival in early September. Yes, the film has yet to be widely released in the U.S. (and it may not ever be).

'Shakespeare In Love': Kiss 'Shakespeare In Love': Poet 'Iron Man': Very Tasteful 'Iron Man': Spread

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