IT’S rare to see an A-list star and style icon of the calibre of Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow die within the first 10 minutes of a movie, let alone take her last breath in such a gruesome manner.
Testament to her lack of vanity, the high gross-out factor for the always-glamorous Paltrow didn’t deter her. ‘‘ I thought it was hilarious,’’ she says. ‘‘ I was laughing when I saw the end result, but it’s obviously very different when you experience the fakery of something. ‘‘ I liked the gory make-up. I had to get my tongue painted, put contact lenses in, all that stuff.’’
Contagion boasts an ensemble cast that includes Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne. Budgeted at US$ 60 million and directed by Steven Soderbergh, this alarming thriller is about a lethal pandemic that turns global in a matter of days.
Could this happen in real life?
‘‘ Yeah, I think so,’’ Paltrow says. ‘‘ Will something like this happen in our lifetime? Possibly, probably, but I try not to worry about things that I can’t control. There’s no point.’’
Married to Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin, and living in London, Paltrow is mother to Apple, 7, and Moses, 5.
Did her parenting style towards health change after making this movie?
‘‘ Not really. I think kids need to get sick for their immune systems. They need to get dirty and it’s just a part of life,’’ she says.
‘‘ I don’t overly worry. If someone has the flu, I don’t sit my kids in front of them, but I’m also not like Howard Hughes either.’’
Other than last year’s Country Strong, Paltrow has taken on only smaller roles in films of late, as well as a stint on the hit TV show Glee, which earned her an Emmy award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
Presumably, putting her career and ego on the back-burner must be challenging at times?
‘‘ Well, my children are more important than my career. Luckily, I’d achieved a lot before I had them. Now my focus is my kids,’’ she says.
‘‘ When a film comes along that’s great then I try to work it out, or else I don’t do it. But I don’t have regrets about my decisions.
‘‘ I look for good supporting roles, so the part in Contagion was perfect.
‘‘ I went to Hong Kong for three days, Chicago for a few days, and that was it. I didn’t have to take my kids out of school.’’
This marks the second time she and
Damon have promoted a movie together in Venice. The previous occasion was in 1999 for The Talented Mr Ripley.
She says candidly: ‘‘ I really did not have a good time making that film. It was the worst time in my life. Both my dad and grandfather were diagnosed with cancer, so I don’t have great memories of that time.
‘‘ So it’s actually nice to come back and reframe Venice with Matt Damon in a nice way.’’
The face of American fashion brand Coach, Paltrow is in great shape and looks much younger than her 39 years.
‘‘ I have to work out every day, especially when I just ate a huge plate of fritto misto,’’ she laughs. ‘‘ Some days I enjoy it, some days I don’t, but I have to do it. Otherwise I couldn’t fit into this dress.’’
Refreshingly, she admits to an exercise regimen – unlike many of her peers, who claim to be genetically blessed.
Clearly amused, she says: ‘‘ They all starve themselves and work out, and some just starve themselves. But the thing is I love food and I cook all the time.
‘‘ That means I have to do 50 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week. I can’t gain weight. It’s part of my job.’’ It’s also a requirement as a movie star to remain youthful as long as possible. She talks a little about Botox and plastic surgery.
‘‘ It’s tough. I would prefer to look like myself, and I don’t mind having some wrinkles, but I also totally acknowledge that there’s a point where I may want to do that,’’ Paltrow says.
‘‘ Women should do whatever makes them feel good, happy and comfortable.
‘‘ I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
‘‘ Although, I also think there’s a point that you shouldn’t cross because it’s important to look like yourself.
‘‘ You also have to consider that as an actress your face is supposed to be expressive.
‘‘ You have to be able to frown and cry, so I’d never want to do that much.
‘‘ I’m sure when I’m 60 I’ll be sitting here with a facelift.’’
It must come as a relief to have achieved so many accolades and career goals already?
‘‘ Yes, I did a lot at a young age. Now I see that we have this idea that you have to achieve in order to be worth something and its absolutely not true,’’ she says.
‘‘ It’s just how you regard yourself. I’m really just figuring that lesson out now.’’ Clearly, this is a good time in her life. ‘‘ I feel very good. I feel grounded and I feel like my family is in good shape, thank goodness,’’ she says.
‘‘ Everybody is happy and I’m very content. It’s a good time, for sure. It’s a happy time.’’
Opens on Thursday at Village Cinemas