An audience with the endlessly fascinating Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow interview ELLE Canada

Suit (Boss), bracelets, (Tous) and shoes (Valentino Garavani) Image by: Xavi Gordo


An audience with the endlessly fascinating Gwyneth Paltrow

The actress and Goop founder's guide to the good life. 

What would you do for a peek at Gwyneth Paltrow’s phone?

It’s a thought that certainly crosses our mind as we sit with the A-lister, her smartphone laid face down on the chair next to her. And while, yes, Paltrow is warm and present and even more beautiful than you’d expect, the device’s constant buzzing is distracting—if only for the myriad intriguing possibilities of who among Paltrow’s extensive network of celebrity pals might be messaging her. Is it “Auntie B” texting to see if Apple can babysit Blue Ivy? Chris Martin texting about whatever it is that consciously uncoupled couples text about? 

Paltrow, looking simultaneously regal and relaxed in matching separates that drape in a way that just screams “expensive,” is holding forth on one of her more recent projects: a collaboration between her brand, Goop, and the skincare and makeup line Juice Beauty. The 44-year-old talks about silicones and pigments with a fluency and ease that speaks of genuine passion and not, say, the scripted sound bites of a well-prepped celeb fronting a product they’d never use themselves. 

“I was really shocked to learn what is in the products we all use every day,” she says of a turning point that came while bathing her then infant (now tween) daughter with conventionally produced (albeit luxury) bath stuffs. “So I started to lean toward a more natural or organic product.” After that research, she overhauled her own cosmetics routine. “I’ve really cleaned up my makeup kit and my vanity,” she says. “I love changing it up and mixing brands, but I just make sure that, for the most part, they’re non-toxic.”

Of course, Paltrow’s passion for all things wellness is well documented—which is a kind way of saying that she (and the website she founded at her kitchen table in London in 2008) has, at times, been pilloried for what some read as dispatches from Planet Bizarre-and-Out-of-Touch. A quick Google of “crazy things Goop” pulls up 592,000 results, many with words like “ridiculous,” “pretentious” and “insane” in their titles. And yet, for all that, what started as a newsletter with a recipe for banana-nut muffins is now a globally recognized brand that employs 60 people, sees millions of hits to its website each month and is the reason that “vaginal steaming” was briefly an actual topic of conversation in the world.

Paltrow talked about minimizing her role as the public face of Goop mid-last year, saying that “its scalability is limited if I connect to it.” As a justification—that she’d be standing in the way of the business’ growth if it’s all about her—it’s a head-scratcher, because half the allure of reading about 18-karat-gold dumbbells, the perils of nightshades (back away from the to-matoes) and ways to combat the scientifically unproven phenomenon of adrenal fatigue was that it offered a glimpse into the life and psyche of one of the most privileged and accomplished women in the world. 

Of course, Paltrow isn’t the type to feel the need to explain her actions to anyone ever. When we ask if her philosophy for life is “Don’t apologize, don’t explain,” she says, “That’s exactly right.” 

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about her, however, is that we’ve come this far into a profile about her with nary a mention of her acting career, despite her being, you know, an Oscar-winning thespian. Part of that is Paltrow’s own choice—for the past few years, she has only done one film a year in order to be around more for her kids, 12-year-old Apple and 10-year-old Moses—but it also speaks to the extraordinary life she has had beyond the reason she became fam-ous in the first place. Quick refresher: She starred in Shakespeare in Love, for which she won that Oscar, The Talented Mr. Ripley and the vastly underrated Country Strong.

We the public, of course, have a complicated relationship with Paltrow, who is nothing if not polarizing—a fascinating sort of relatably unrelatable that has kept us intrigued by her since the ’90s. She’s Hollywood royalty (her mother is Blythe Danner, her late father director Bruce Paltrow) who has also published three cookbooks of (debatably) “no-fuss” recipes, and she’s a red-carpet style icon who says she wipes off her makeup in the limo on the way home. She’s just like us, but she’s not. Case in point: For the new book Goop Clean Beauty, Paltrow penned a foreword that warns against the fantasies peddled by the beauty industry...while dropping in the fact that she was once awarded the title of People’s Most Beautiful Person.

“I’ve always stuck my neck out,” says Paltrow, when asked about the way that a perception of her authenticity has contributed to her success. “I’ve always been pretty true to myself, for better or for worse.” And even when you’re Gwyneth Paltrow, there is a “worse”—like her divorce from singer Chris Martin or the death of her beloved father. “I tried to heal him by proxy,” she remembers. “When he was diagnosed with cancer, I went really hard-core macrobiotic, which makes very little sense looking back.”

And she gets stressed too, guys. “Post-40, when I get stressed, lack sleep or have alcohol, it really shows in my skin.” When asked if the answer to that might be an organic wine instead, she’s quick to correct. “Well, it’s much better if you can find biodynamic wine.”


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An audience with the endlessly fascinating Gwyneth Paltrow