Gwyneth Paltrow turns 40: How she got her big break
18-year-old Paltrow in 'Hook,' left, and Paltrow now (Photo: TriStar Pictures, Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Paltrow's godfather is legendary director Steven Spielberg (he is also Drew Barrymore's godfather). And it was Spielberg who gave Paltrow one of her first major acting opportunities.
One night in 1991, Spielberg, his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, and Paltrow's late father Bruce took a teenage Paltrow to see "The Silence of the Lambs." On the way back, as Spielberg drove, he caught something in his rearview mirror that piqued his interest -- the horrified facial expression of Paltrow who was questioning Spielberg about the film.
Spielberg recounted what happened that night [via an Entertainment Weekly interview]: "Bruce and Kate and I had taken Gwynnie to see 'The Silence of the Lambs"… We were driving back from the movie theater, and I was going back to work [on "Hook"] the next day. I was looking in the rear-view mirror and she was talking about the film and she had this really frightened look on her face, and it suddenly clicked, and I said, 'Hey, you could be the young Wendy! You could be the young Maggie Smith [who plays ].' ...I turned around and said, 'Do you want to make a movie?' She got a SAG [Screen Actors Guild] card because of it."
Paltrow, right, and her mother Blythe Danner (Photo: Gary Gershoff/WireImage for Baby Buggy)
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Paltrow's late father Bruce was a director-writer-producer, most famously for the hit '80s show "St. Elsewhere." And her mother is actress Blythe Danner -- who has been experiencing something of a career renaissance ever since her appearance in "Meet the Fockers" in 2004. Paltrow has worked with her parents on a few projects over the years -- her father produced and directed karaoke-themed film "Duets" (2000) and Danner played her mother in "Sylvia" (2003). Ironically, both films were poorly received by critics.