In an interview following her 2007 San Diego Comic Con appearance alongside the cast of Paramount Pictures’ Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow raved about the enthusiasm shown by the 6,500 comic book and movie fans who turned up to check out what’s happening with the Iron Man movie. The Academy Award-winning actress even confessed she can relate to being a ‘geek’ and has, in her own words, “a lot of secret geeky qualities.”
Chatting up the film with a small group of journalists after joining Robert Downey Jr, Terrence Howard and director Jon Favreau on stage, Paltrow expanded on her secret geeky qualities before getting down to the business of discussing Iron Man.
What geeky qualities do you possess?
“Well, my geekiness is more about like food or like interior stuff or music, so the comic thing was new to me because I 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… But of course I knew it existed, but I didn’t really know the extent and the how fervent and passionate the fans are and everything.”
What’s the story of Iron Man and how would you describe your character?
“It started as like an anti-communist comic back in the day and Tony Stark is the protagonist. He’s kind of a messed up figure. He’s like 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 and they have that kind of repartee, a little bit fraternal and a little bit sexual. And they have a very fun relationship and she’s kind of the moral center. She is constantly trying to rein him in.”
What’s the appeal of doing Iron Man as opposed to a Spider-Man or Batman movie?
“Robert Downey Jr. I mean, 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. It’s always been a dream of mine to work with him. Him and Johnny Depp I’ve always wanted to work with. But it was amazing because they called me and they said, ‘There’s this movie and it’s Jon Favreau.’ I love his films and when they said, ‘And it’s Robert Downey Jr. and Terrance Howard and Jeff Bridges…’ I was like, ‘Great, I’m in. What is it?’ And they were like, ‘It’s a comic book movie called Iron Man.’ I was like, ‘Wow, what’s that?’ And then I kind of got familiar with it and I’m so glad I did it. I had the best time.”
What makes Robert Downey Jr. so right for the role of Tony Stark?
“The character himself is complicated and they share sort of a complicated past. He worked [hard]; he looks amazing. He looks like a proper action man and he looks really good. He’s such a good actor so he brings this amazing thing to it.”
Did you have to deal with a lot of blue screen on the set of Iron Man?
“I didn’t have any blue screen, not me. It was all real.”
You didn't have to wear a skintight superhero costume but did you have to do anything special to physically prepare for the part?
"I had to work out. They wanted me to look good, but I didn’t have to wear any superhero things. I had like 15 baby-weight pounds to lose before I started, so [I worked out] on the treadmill."
Are you signed on for potential Iron Man sequels?
“I’ve signed, yeah. I’ve signed in blood.”
And you’ve never done a sequel before, have you?
“No, I haven’t. You know what? It was weird when I did it, but like the first day on set it was so great. I love Jon and everybody so much that now I just hope that there’s a sequel.”
Are you back in full-time acting mode or still staying at home being a mother?
“I’m going to do both so you won’t see me every three months, that’s for sure. But you know, I did so many movies in my 20’s and it was amazing, but it was a lot, you know? It was a real blessing for me to get to have time off and have kids, and there was a really a point where I thought, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.’ And then when Moses was about six months old, I really felt the desire coming back. Then I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to wait until he’s a year so he gets all my time for a year. And then maybe if people still remember me, there’ll be something for me. And luckily this came up and I started it just after he turned a year old. I had the best time making it. You know what’s nice for me is 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 was great for me.”
Is it important to get that portion of your life back?
“You know what I thought was it wasn’t so much about my life back, but it was about the I mean, the artist in me that needed to be fed, you know? And because the months go by, the years go by, and you’re like pureeing sweet potato and you’re like, ‘Okay.’ 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. I think it’s about finding a balance. 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. It’s been really good.”
Has motherhood affected the choices you make in choosing film roles?
“I just want to have fun and try new things and try roles that I have never tried. I feel like if I’m going to work, then it has to be something that’s 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.”
Can you talk for a second about your brother’s film?
“It comes out October 5th. Sony bought it and the Yari Group is distributing it so it will have a small independent release, hopefully. I think it will sort of be in New York, L.A., start there and hopefully it will connect. I’m really excited for him because I think his talent is so evident and I really I love the film. I love working with Martin [Freeman] and Simon [Pegg] and everybody. It was such a good cast – amazing.”
What’s coming up next?
“Well I’m just in negotiations for something right now but I’m not really supposed to say. I think the director will get mad if I say, but it’s a smaller movie and it would be in New York. A really good independent filmmaker…”