CCI XTRA: Gwenyth Paltrow, "Iron" Maiden

With over 20 movies in ten years and an Oscar to her name, Gwenyth Paltrow has pretty much done it all. Having worked with actors like Brad Pitt ("Se7en"), Ben Affleck ("Shakespeare in Love"), and Matt Damon ("The Talented Mr. Ripley"), she now sets her sight on new territory, the blockbuster tent pole comic book movie. Returning from a short, Paltrow is back on screen as Victoria "Pepper" Potts in Marvel's "Iron Man." Amidst the buzz of Comic-Con International in San Diego, Paltrow took time out to speak to CBR News.

This year was Paltrow's first time at Comic-Con, and she thought it was "great" and further said, "It's crazy, it's amazing, I love the enthusiasm."

Paltrow admitted she could relate to Iron Man fans because she has her own "secret geeky" qualities, though not about comic books. "My geekiness is more about food or interior stuff or music, so the comic thing was new to me because I had really never read comics. My brother read a lot of comics growing up and it was very interesting because it's this whole world that I never really [knew]. Of course, I knew it existed but I didn't really know the extent of how fervent and passionate the fans are and everything."

Paltrow took a moment to describe, in her own words, what "Iron Man" is about and who she plays in the movie. "Basically, 'Iron Man' started as an anti-communist comic back in the day. Tony Stark is the protagonist and he's kind of a messed up figure. He's an alcoholic and a womanizer and an arms dealer, basically, but he's kind of like a Howard Hughes type and a little bit reckless. I play Pepper Potts who's his assistant; she's kind of like his girl Friday. They have that kind of repartee. [It's] a little bit fraternal and a little bit sexual. They have a very fun relationship and she's the kind of moral center, she's constantly trying to reign him in."

When it came down to what Paltrow found to be the major difference between "Iron Man" and other superhero films like "Batman" or "Spider-Man", it was actually quite simple. "Robert Downey, Jr. I've always wanted to work with him, and since I was a teenager, before I even acted, I always thought he was so brilliant and it's always been a dream of mine to work with him. Him and Johnny Depp, I've always wanted to work with. It was amazing because they called me and they said, 'There's this movie and it's Jon Favreau,' and I love his films and then they said, 'It's Robert Downey, Jr. and Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges.' I was like, 'Great, I'm in. What is it?' and they're like, 'It's a comic book called "Iron Man''' and I was like 'wow, what's that?' and I kind of got familiar with it and I am so glad I did it. I had the best time."

As for what makes Downey the right guy to play Tony Stark, Paltrow explained, "The character himself is complicated and they share a sort of complicated pasts. And he worked out. He looks amazing, like proper action man. He looks really good and he's such a great actor so he brings such an amazing thing to it."

Talk turned to Paltrow's recent hiatus from movies, which she took to spend time at home with her children. With her return to the silver screen, fans are of course curious to know if she's going back to being a full time actress? "I'm going to do both [being a full-time parent and actress], so you won't see me [in movies] every three months, that's for sure. I did so many movies in my 20s and it was amazing but it was a lot. It was a real blessing for me to get to have time off to have kids and there was really a point where I thought, 'I don't know if I want to do this anymore.' Then when [my son] Moses was about six months old, I really felt the desire [to act] coming back and then I thought, 'Well I'm going to wait until he's a year [old] so he gets all my time for a year and then maybe, if people still remember me, they'll be something for me' and luckily ['Iron Man'] came up. I started just after he turned a year old and I had the best time making it and so, you know what's nice for me, is that I feel so much enthusiasm for my work again and it was really important for me to have that break. I really needed it and it's great for me."

Paltro elaborated, saying the main reason she got back into the film was because "the artist in me needed to be fed, and because the months go by, the years go by and you're like puréeing sweet potato and you think this is amazing but there's also a part of me that needs to survive and that's important and I know how to do this. So I think it's about finding a balance, so I'm very excited that when I decided to come back to work that there was work for me and so it's been a really fun time."

As to what she was looking for when it comes to choosing her next role, Paltrow declared, "I just want to have fun," adding that she wants to "try new things and try roles that I've never tried. I feel like if I'm going to work then it has to be something that is invigorating to me and exciting. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare, it can be anything as long as I feel like it's worth my time and that I'm working with really good people and I'm learning something."

With all the buzz surrounding "Iron Man," the discussion turned toward sequels, as Paltrow is also signed for any potential sequels. "I signed in blood," she joked. Even with her star experience, the superhero franchise machine was a new experience for her. "It was weird when I did it but the first day on set was so great and I love John [Favreau] and everybody so much that now I just hope that there is a sequel."

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