Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CATS WITHOUT CLAWS


Ooh, catfight time again?! Rumor has it that Gwyneth Paltrow is hopping mad about being left out of the early promotion for Iron Man 2 in favor of Scarlett Johanssen, who plays Black Widow in the sequel (due next year on my birthday, May 7). Despite having been in the first Iron Man movie last year as the title character's love interest, Pepper Potts (above, bottom), Gwyneth is noticeably absent from the recent Entertainment Weekly cover (above, top), which has got to sting. But it might simply be a matter of mathematics. Having worked at the magazine for a year as a senior editor, I know that the powers that be there prefer not to clutter the magazine's covers with too many stars: Three's company (and just barely), four is definitely a crowd. And when it comes to superhero movies, the public is generally most interested in the actors playing the villains.

Who knows if the fued rumors are true, but it's kind of fun to think about. I've always thought Gwyneth was wildly overrated. The year she won the 1998 Oscar (in 1999) for Shakespeare In Love, Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) and Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station) were infinitely more deserving, but it was one of those situations (as with Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet more recently) where the Academy was playing catch up, introducing Oscar to a young actress a few years too late (in Gwyneth's case, she was far more deserving of the nod for 1996's Emma, for which she wasn't even nominated).

In the 10 years since winning her Oscar, Gwynnie's star has fallen dramatically. She's appeared in a number of bombs (View From The Top and Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow come immediately to mind) and only a handful of leading roles in non-hit films (Sylvia and Proof), preferring to raise babies, play devoted wife to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and generally become more celebrity than actress. Meanwhile, Scarlett, despite possessing questionable acting chops, has become one of Hollywood's top female starlets.

So basically, what we have here is a situation where Gwyenth's lone selling point is a decade-old Oscar, and frankly, in a superhero blockbuster-to-be where you have former Oscar invitees Mickey Rourke (as Whiplash), Don Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard as War Machine) and Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury) all costarring, that win starts to look a lot less important.

Memo to Gwyneth: Considering your long string of flops over the last decade, this is nice work if you can get it. Take the money and run like hell.

While I'm on the subject, I've never read the Iron Man comic, nor did I see the first movie (despite my love of all things Robert Downey Jr.), so maybe there is a good explanation, but how can Mad Men co-star John Slattery (left), 46, be playing the father of Robert Downey Jr., 44? I mean, I get the prematurely gray thing and all, but it's not like Robert can pass for 10 years younger. Hollywood casting continues to baffle!
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