Paltrow is quiet on love

Actress: She dates - even blind dates - but she doesn't want to talk about it.

November 26, 2001|By Ron Dicker | Ron Dicker,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. - "I'm not, like, a nymphomaniac," Gwyneth Paltrow declared in a recent interview.

Settle down, groupies: She merely was responding to a mistaken perception generated by a magazine article. Apparently, that happens a lot.

Appropriately enough, Paltrow currently stars in a movie about perception called Shallow Hal. She plays an obese lonely-heart who looks like a catwalk hottie in the eyes of a skin-deep schlub (Jack Black).

You could say her career is a matter of perception, too.

For some critics, her turn as a spoiled expatriate's girlfriend in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) was more validation of her talent. But others claim she's in a slump because her last two movies struggled at the box office. Duets, a karaoke ensemble directed by her father, Bruce Paltrow, earned just $4,734,000. Bounce collected $36,779,296 - a disappointment considering that her leading man in the twist-of-fate drama was Ben Affleck.

On this day at the Ritz Carlton, the 29-year-old Paltrow was her lanky and lovely self in a beige sweater and hip-hugger jeans. No makeup. Just a hint of Lauren Hutton gap in her front teeth. She was friendly and reserved in a 25-minute Q&A.

Although Paltrow nabbed the Academy Award for best actress in 1998's Shakespeare in Love, fans have been just as captivated by Gwyneth in Love. First her beau was Brad Pitt (touchy subject). Recently it was Affleck (apparently, it went on longer than we thought). Then it might have been Scott Speedman, her Duets co-star. Now it's rumored to be Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde). Will she confirm the latter? "I don't answer those kinds of questions. Sorry," she said.

There is one message about her romances, though, that she wants to make clear: "Could I maybe get to first base with this person before I'm marrying them?" she asked.

That said, she was willing to discuss the single life in general terms. Even the Great Gwynie has been on blind dates. They didn't go well. She will see men of all professions but said there is a comfort level between actors.

Note to whomever catches her eye: Don't get too comfortable. Six weeks is usually her cut-off point for most relationships. "If they get past the first date, then their time is running out basically," she said, grinning.

Initially, Paltrow feared that the concept of the Farrelly Brothers comedy could offend the overweight, but she thinks people will change their minds once they see the movie.

In Shallow Hal, Paltrow's character does charitable deeds and has a wicked sense of humor. But she is ignored as a romantic figure until Hal has a chance encounter with motivational guru Tony Robbins, who uses a bit of fire-and-brimstone theater and the power of suggestion to make Hal see women in a whole new lite. Hal spots Paltrow on the street and begins wooing her, seeing her inner beauty reflected by a comely exterior.

The actress took her fat suit out for a spin one night at the Tribeca Grand hotel in lower Manhattan for research. Normally she would draw stares and murmurs. "Nobody would look at me," she said.

Paltrow prefers tall and lean men herself but never considered herself prejudiced toward the stout. In fact, she has taken the fashion industry to task for perpetuating the feminine ideal of a coat-hanger figure and has scolded a magazine for saying that Liv Tyler could lose a few pounds. "It disgusts me," she said. "It should disgust everyone."

Reminded that most women could not match Paltrow in the looks department, she replied, "I'll never look like me either, the way they airbrush me."

She wasn't sure if she could pull a Tom Hanks or a Renee Zellweger and actually gain weight for a role. Health reasons, she said. She began to smoke for the part of a playwright in The Royal Tenenbaums, opening in December, and she found herself smoking cigarettes off-screen. So, at what price would Paltrow ponder packing on pounds?

"If I was really wedded to it and felt it was an incredible piece, I would gain the weight," she said. (Fat chance, considering she eats no sugar, dairy or wheat and practices yoga six days a week.)

Paltrow was a willowy teen-ager when family friend Steven Spielberg offered her the part of Wendy in 1991's Hook as they waited in line for a movie. After graduating from high school, she studied at University of California, Santa Barbara, barely long enough to go through a bottle of sunblock when she decided to act full-time. Working with her mother, Tony-winning actress Blythe Danner, in a summer-stock production of Picnic sealed the decision.

Movie fans and gossip-mongers are grateful. But Paltrow would appreciate a little restraint from the latter. As she put it: "For some reason I feel like I am one of the people who gets things written about them that are way off base, in all different incarnations."

Who said thin girls catch all the breaks?

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