Academy Award winner and GOOPstress Supreme, Gwyneth Paltrow, has a lot on her plate, so it's understandable that she needs to compartmentalize. Still, it's odd that she seems to have unconsciously uncoupled herself from her decade-long involvement in Marvel Studios' world-conquering Infinity Saga just as Avengers: Endgame has secured its slot as the most profitable movie of all time.
The actress, who played Pepper Potts opposite Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in approximately 30 percent of the (so far) 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe features has attracted a bit of publicity lately for her seeming unfamiliarity with those movies, which she has claimed not to have watched. Several of her co-stars have noted she seems not to have even been aware of having worked with them. With no comment from Paltrow, it's difficult to know whether this is a misunderstanding, an honest mistake, or a bit of studied remove by disinterested Hollywood royalty, whose last non-Marvel feature was 2015's Mortdecai.
For your convenience, we have collected all of the alleged incidents of Gwyneth's potential brain freezes.
Poor Bucky, the forgotten man. Left for dead, brainwashed, passed over for the Shield, he's basically a heavily-armed black hole. Adding insult to injury, Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't seem to know who he is, despite having shared the big screen with him in Avengers: Infinity War.
Stan first alerted us to Paltrow's co-star blindness with a July 4 Instagram post, in which he's pictured with Paltrow and a bevy of fashion legends, accompanied by the following caption: "[...] Glad I got to reintroduce myself to @gwynethpaltrow for the third time. We are in the same film..."
That sad little shrug wasn't the end of the story. In an audio leak from the Infinity War premiere, Paltrow asks Chris Pratt, "Who's that?" Pratt patiently replies, "That's Sebastian Stan. He plays Bucky." To Paltrow's silence, Pratt gamely expands. "Bucky is the Winter Soldier," to which Paltrow replies, "Oh! OK."
We don't expect the real-life avatar of Pepper Potts to be on a first-name basis with every character in the MCU (and Bucky's first name is actually James), but she might be expected to know about the Winter Soldier, whose name emblazoned one of Marvel's most successful movies and whose character was responsible for the death of her onscreen boyfriend's parents and the subsequent superhero civil war. Although, to be fair, Paltrow didn't appear in either of those movies.
Spider-Man actor Tom Holland is known for his humility and charm. Everyone seems to have something positive to say about him, with the exception of Paltrow, whose reminiscences are not so much a negative vote as an abstention.
We first learned of Gwyneth's Spider-blindness during a cooking-show collaboration with Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director/co-star Jon Favreau. Favreau explains they both started cooking together when they were working on Spider-Man, to which Paltrow responds, "We weren't in Spider-Man. I was in Avengers." Favreau, who has the patience of a saint (or a Chris Pratt), walks Paltrow through her Spider-Man: Homecoming cameo.
In a PopSugar video, Holland commented on the exchange: "I've only worked with Gwyneth one time, on Spider-Man: Homecoming, which she doesn't remember, which still to this day breaks my heart." The exchange between Favreau and Paltrow seems to suggest Paltrow remembers the scene, but didn't recall what movie it was for; whether Holland has additional insider information is unknown.
There is similar confusion regarding the second incident of Holland erasure. Paltrow posted an Instagram photo (the preferred medium of co-star confusion) of her with Robert Downey Jr. and Holland. The caption read: "I love April 4th because it was the day god gave us @robertdowneyjr HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear heart. Love me and that other guy in the photo."
"I was just the guy," Holland said in the PopSugar video.
There is a case to be made here for Paltrow's intentionality: "That other guy" could be a reference to her knowledge of the controversy created by the Favreau exchange, or it could be a term of familiar endearment. We don't know, and she wasn't in the Spider-Man sequel.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON
There's been no word whether Paltrow remembers Samuel L. Jackson from her work with him in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1996 debut feature Hard Eight. But she definitely doesn't remember him as Nick Fury, the connective tissue of the MCU, who made his debut in the post-credit sequence of the Paltrow-starring Iron Man, and returned for a larger role in the sequel.
In a live Q&A for Endgame, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige dished. On the massive collection of A-list superhero actors assembled for Tony Stark's funeral scene, he recalled, "Gwyneth Paltrow [was] asking why Sam Jackson was there, and the other actors [were] jumping in saying, 'What are you talking about? He's Nick Fury! You've been in movies with him.'"
Granted, Nick Fury is a super-spy and can avoid detection, but Jackson is one of the most successful and recognizable actors of our time. His MCU incarnation wears an eye patch and a black leather trench coat for further recognizability.
It's certainly Paltrow's right -- as an actress, a parent and a citizen -- to absent herself from any cultural phenomenon, even one as enormous as the MCU. It does make Endgame's all-women "hero shot" a little less powerful if Pepper Potts, suited up in Rescue armor for a final anti-Thanos thrust, has no idea who these women are she's working with. We look forward to more entertainment from Gwyneth in years to come, both onscreen and off.
We will update this list as more forgotten co-stars become available.