Gwyneth Paltrow on Turning Down 'Boogie Nights' 'Titanic,' and 'Shakespeare in Love' (At First, Anyway)


Howard Stern and Gwyneth Paltrow on Wednesday

It’s always exciting when someone like Gwyneth Paltrow, with her carefully controlled (or in GOOP terminology, “lovingly curated”) image, agrees to do a live interview with Howard Stern. During Wednesday’s hour-long conversation on SiriusXM, the Mortdecai star opened up about her relationships with ex-boyfriends Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck. But Stern also took Paltrow through a surprisingly thorough retrospective of her film career, including the roles she turned down. And boy, were there some big ones. Here’s a list of the films Paltrow said “no” to — even if her answer eventually turned into a “yes.”

Cool As Ice (1991)
Who got the role: Kristin Minter
Paltrow has no regrets about turning down a part in this infamous Vanilla Ice star vehicle, even though she desperately wanted to do it at the time. “I must have been 19 years old, I was so thrilled, and it was like $50,000. I couldn’t believe it,” she told Stern. Her producer-director father Bruce Paltrow read one page of the script before declaring “I forbid it.”

Boogie Nights (1997)
Who got the role: Heather Graham
“I really wanted to do it,” Paltrow said of Roller Girl, the porn star role that won accolades for Graham. “I was very, very close to [my grandfather] and he was pretty conservative, and I just thought, ‘I can’t be totally naked and giving a BJ onscreen. I’ll kill my grandfather.’ So yeah, I didn’t do it. And by the way, Heather Graham was perfect and so it works out perfectly.”

Titanic (1997)
Who got the role: Kate Winslet
Paltrow denied that she was offered Winslet’s star-making role, though she said she was “in contention for it” and “maybe one of the last two” actresses in the running. “I look back on some of the choices that I made and I think like, ‘Why the hell did I say no to this and yes to that?’” she said to Stern. “But then you look at the big picture and you think, ‘There’s a universal lesson here.’ And you know, you can’t hold on. What good is it gonna do?”


Paltrow almost passed on her Oscar-winning role in Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Paltrow initially passed on her Oscar-winning role, and it would have been Brad Pitt’s fault. The actress told Stern she was so broken-hearted from their break-up that she was “very sad and ‘I’m not going to work’ and all that nonsense.” After Miramax began casting around for other actresses, producer Paul Weber convinced her that she would be crazy to turn Shakespeare in Love down. Paltrow denies the popular story that she stole the role after it was offered to her ex-best friend Winona Ryder. “That’s an urban myth,” she told Stern. “I swear to God, I did not. I’m raising my right hand on the Bible. I swear to God.”

Watch a clip from Shakespeare in Love:

Gangs of New York (2002)
Who got the role: Cameron Diaz
This one may not count, since Paltrow doesn’t remember being offered the part. “I didn’t turn that down! I did? I don’t think that’s even true, is it?” she asked Stern. It’s always possible that Paltrow was saving face; she noted later in the interview that Diaz is one of her best friends.


Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man

Iron Man (2008)
At first, Paltrow didn’t think twice about turning down the role of Pepper Potts in Iron Man. Not only did she have zero interest in working on a comic book movie, but she had resolved to take a break from acting. “I had two little kids, and I had worked so much in my twenties that I was like, ‘I just want to be home,’” she told Stern. Robert Downey Jr. personally convinced her to come aboard and she was thrilled to work with him, despite the fact that “there was literally no script” on the first movie: Paltrow says Downey Jr. would rip up his scenes every day and “just make it up on the fly.”

Listen to the full Howard Stern interview with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Image credits: Stern Show/Twitter, Everett