Gwyneth Paltrow explains why she thinks being famous is a ‘pretty terrible thing’


Gwyneth Paltrow is telling the world how strange it is to be a celebrity.

“I’ve been in the public eye for so many years, the surreal part is having been famous, basically, my whole adult life, so I don’t know what it means to be a grown-up without all of the scrutiny and all of the wonderful things and terrible things that come with being a famous person,” Paltrow, 48, told Anna Faris on Monday’s episode of the Anna Faris Is Unqualified podcast. “I think our culture idealizes fame so much, and I actually think it’s [a] pretty terrible thing to be famous, if our purpose on the planet is for human development and to really become the truest, best version of ourselves. I think fame is a huge impediment to that, and I’ve had to work really hard to separate the fame from who I am.”

Paltrow hasn’t read anything about herself in a “really, really long time” for just that reason. But she didn’t know that she should be doing that when she began appearing in films regularly in the ’90s.

“When I got famous, I was probably like 22 years old and, you know, I was starting out, and you have a publicist and every day the publicist would — this is way pre-internet — fax, you know, if you were in Us Magazine, which was a monthly magazine at that point, or they would fax you, you know, ‘Oh, you’re in the New York Times today,'” Paltrow said. “And literally six months into it, I said, ‘I have to stop this. This is not healthy. This has nothing to do with me. I’m getting, like, excited if somebody writes something good. I’m getting depressed if somebody writes something bad. This is none of my business.'”

Since then, the Goop mogul said she’s focused on who she is as a person, realizing that she can’t let outside opinions affect her relationship with herself.

Paltrow, the daughter of late director Bruce Paltrow and actress Blythe Danner, appeared in her first theatrical movie, Shout, alongside John Travolta and Heather Graham, as a teenager in 1991. Seven years later, she won an Oscar for her performance in Shakespeare in Love.

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When Faris asked Paltrow what that was like for her, she described it as strange.

Gwyneth Paltrow won an Oscar for her performance in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love.” (Photo: Everett Collection)

“I was doing a movie in Vancouver. My dad was directing, and he was recovering from this crazy cancer surgery at the time, and I’m so glad that I was focusing on him,” said Paltrow, whose father died from oral cancer in 2002. “My whole family was there, my brother [director Jake Paltrow] and my mom, we were just kind of like all banded together as a family to get my dad through this movie, which was really hard. And thank god I had that to focus on, because it was the weirdest, most surreal time.”

While it was exciting, Paltrow felt insecure.

“You know, you’re also kind of embarrassed that you’re nominated for an Oscar, and you have imposter syndrome and you think, like, ‘I can’t even believe this is happening. I’m not even that good.’ And, ‘Does everybody hate me?'” said Paltrow, who’s married to TV writer Brad Falchuk. “It’s the most bizarre time, but then at the same time, in my case, I hadn’t won yet, so I was kind of like, ‘Well, of course I’m not going to win, but this is kind of cool, too.'”

After Paltrow won the award, which she acknowledged people don’t care so much about outside of Los Angeles, it got even weirder.

“When you have that much attention on you and that much kind of energy, it was really, really overwhelming,” she said. “I remember I was staying with my parents at their house in Santa Monica, and I just kinda, like, hid for three weeks afterwards. It was so intense, and I felt so … lonely’s the right word. It was really strange.”

Faris joked, “I felt that way when I got Scary Movie. I can totally relate Gwyneth.”

Paltrow talked, too, about the times before she was an award-winning actress. She said that her father had told her and her brother both that they weren’t entitled to his money, so they began working while still in school.

“And so he said, ‘You can enjoy this while you’re here, and I love you, and I’m gonna share this with you while you live with me, but when you’re done, you’re done.’ Like, ‘I’m not giving you a penny, I will never help you,’ and he stuck to it,” Paltrow explained. “So, you know, we had jobs after school. My brother worked at the deli on the corner. I worked at a toy store. I worked at a ski store. I worked summer jobs. I worked. He’s like, ‘If you want money, you have to work for the money.’ So I think what that did was really instill in me this work ethic but also, at the same time, like, yeah, I was growing up in a beautiful, you know, townhouse in Manhattan. So it was a funny juxtaposition. It was a very valuable parenting lesson.”

She said that he continued to stand by his “no help” rule even after she quit college to try acting.

“I mean, there were times when I was like, ‘But I have no gas money to get to this audition,'” she said. “And he was like, ‘That’s not my problem. I love you, but that’s not my problem.'”

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