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Gwyneth Paltrow is not one for hiding. Over her two decades in the very public eye, the actress has always dared to be an open book when it comes to her personal life, her dietary preferences, and everything in between. As she prepares to launch her latest endeavor under her all-encompassing Goop umbrella — a clothing line named, fittingly, goop Label — Paltrow spoke with comedian Samantha Bee, host of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, about her foray into Goop fashion, hanging out with Beyoncé, and why, at the end of the day, daring is all about being yourself.
Samantha Bee: People have such an imagined version of your life. You’ve been so daringly open about your personal life and have revealed intimate details about parenting and your marriage that in some ways people feel like they have permission to speak personally about you. And when they do in a negative way, how do you process that?
Gwyneth Paltrow: When I was starting out, I would get printouts of what was being written about me that week. At first it was all good things, and then it started to turn. I very quickly learned, “This isn’t good, this isn’t helping me.” These were strangers, and they were opining on anything in my life, from where I ate dinner to what movie I chose to do to who I was dating, and I was just like, “This isn’t going to be beneficial to my process as a human being in this lifetime.” But it was a very important exercise for me in terms of really understanding that one’s sense of self is internal. I have had an extreme opportunity to learn that lesson, and I think it’s been such a blessed fortune. Occasionally I’ll come across something that’s just annoying, but for the most part it’s irrelevant to me.
SB: I guess it’s just a long process of cultivating that sense of self where you don’t need somebody else to set the compass for you. Did your parents help instill that in you?
GP: My father was really good at having me stand on my own two feet, both financially and philosophically. His whole parenting philosophy was to give my brother and me the skills to be grown-ups and the curiosity to ask the right questions. My drive is something that I don’t fully understand. I don’t know if I came to this life with it or if it’s something that came to me in my childhood, but I do feel that some of the things my parents said to me and how they raised me really stuck with me. I remember when I started acting and didn’t get a part and was really jealous of the girl who got it. My mom would say to me, “If you don’t get a part, that means it’s not your part. It’s just not yours. You will have your parts.” It really recalibrated me at a very young age to where I could be driven because I was trying to achieve things for myself, and that had nothing to do with what anybody else was doing.
SB: Do you encourage your children to take risks?
GP: One hundred percent. In my case, I’ve borne these two kids into a particularly strange circumstance. They are going to have to fend off a lot and protect themselves from a lot of projections and prejudice about who they are, coming from the family that they come from. My daughter is super ballsy. I always follow her lead. I actually don’t need to encourage her to take risks. She likes to push herself; she wants to see how far she can get. It’s really inspiring to see that in a young woman.
SB: You’re a very famous person. Can you walk out your front door?
GP: Yes. I’ve learned to navigate it. If I’m somewhere where there are a lot of tourists, then I’m asking for it. But if I go to the market or I’m back-to-school shopping with my kids, it’s not a problem. Some people ask for pictures, but it’s completely fine. I’m able to be a normal mom for the most part. I’m in [clothing store] Brandy Melville like all the other moms.
SB: With Goop — which I love — you share highly curated lifestyle advice with a really consistent point of view. Who do you look to for inspiration? Whose perspectives and judgments do you trust?
GP: I look for people who have a slightly different perspective and are trying to move the needle a little bit and push boundaries. I’m always interested in what’s next or what is the new kind of thinking. I have an amazing team, and we find people who resonate with us, but sometimes our scope is still small because we are a pretty small group and we have so much work to do. We get approached a lot. People constantly submit stuff and say, “Will you look at this?” We pick up the phone a lot.
SB: You’ve been so open to new opportunities to expand Goop into different areas. Is the goop Label clothing line part of that?
GP: The clothing line is just one thread in the quilt of what I’m trying to create, which is a truly modern, global lifestyle brand. Some people have said to me, “Why haven’t you gone more fully into wellness products?” — which is our next thing, but I wanted to make sure that as we grew in scale we were diversifying across all the different verticals so that we could be as credible in them as we are in food and that kind of stuff. The clothes themselves are not meant to be daring at all — these are reimagined basics. The daring part of it is that we want to change the way fashion is served to the consumer.
SB: When you’re stressed out, what’s the thing in your life that becomes a metaphor for the inner chaos?
GP: I cannot function if there is a physical mess around me. If everything is falling apart, I go on a cleaning frenzy.
SB: When you go away, does all your laundry have to be done before you pack?
GP: Yes, and I cannot go to sleep with dishes in the sink.
SB: Has anyone ever said anything to you that was a complete game changer?
GP: I remember when I was maybe 27 years old and kind of at the height of my movie stardom — it was around the time of the Oscars and this and that. I think I was very much believing my own hype, which how could you not? I was sitting with my dad, feeling great about my life and everything that was happening, and he was like, “You know, you’re getting a little weird… You’re kind of an asshole.” And I was like, “What the hell?” I was totally devastated. But it turned out to be basically the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s the difference between someone who loves you more than anything in the world giving you criticism and getting it from some bitter stranger on the Internet. What my dad said to me was the kind of criticism where I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m on the wrong track.” I’m so grateful to him for doing that. He was such a no-nonsense guy in that sense.
SB: When I was a teenager, somebody said that to me. I hope nobody says that to me ever again.
GP: They won’t because you’re past 40, and by 40, all women are amazing.
SB: The deal is sealed.
GP: And if you’re an asshole at that point, then guess what?
SB: It’s over.
GP: It’s over. If you haven’t taken all of life’s incredible knocks and disappointments and used them to become a fully integrated, self-expressing person by the time you’re 40, then what can I tell you?
SB: So what is Beyoncé really like?
GP: If you met her and you didn’t know who she was or what she did, it would be inconceivable to you that she was Beyoncé. Some really famous people, even when they’re off-duty, have this energy that is sort of overpowering. She does not have that. She is so dialed down. She’s the sweetest mother. She’s very shy. You would not believe she is Beyoncé Knowles. You would be like, “No, that was not her.” And that’s why when I see her perform, I’m like, “Oh, shit, I forgot.”
SB: Like, “I forgot you did this stuff!” I just thought you were the lady who made grilled cheese!”
GP: She doesn’t make grilled cheese. Definitely not. I make the grilled cheese.
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