Though the Sylvia Plath biopic Gwyneth Paltrow toplined may have faded quickly at the domestic B.O. after its October bow, her perf was singled out as one of the year’s best.
Some lauded it as her best since — or better than — her Oscar-winning turn in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love.” Variety’s Todd McCarthy called it “spot on” and “a meaty role she was meant to play.”
Paltrow, who resembles Plath, has an East Coast upbringing and a penchant for all things British, seemed primed for the part of the Massachusetts-raised poet who studied at Cambridge and married a Yorkshireman.
“Sylvia” producer Alison Owen remembers it being a no-brainer when she was looking for actresses to play the role. She acknowledges much of it had to do with Paltrow’s physical likeness to Plath, but also something else. “It has more to do with qualities in Gwyneth herself. She has an East Coast grace and charm to her, and a real mercurial quality. You can see the expressions flickering beneath her skin.”
When Paltrow’s father passed away right before the shoot, Owen tried make things easier for the thesp. “I had scheduled all the scenes about Sylvia and her father at the end of the shoot, and she said, ‘No, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Bring it on.’ I thought it was incredibly brave to face it and dig deep as an actress and get something out of it.”
Paltrow found it helpful to turn to Plath’s work when preparing for the pic that charted the ill-fated marriage between the expat and British poet laureate Ted Hughes: “I could read a poem and it would put me exactly in the frame of mind and the emotional space that I needed to occupy.”
Paltrow just wrapped a pic adaptation of prize-winning play “Proof,” also produced by Owen, and is set to team up with the producer again on a pic about a diamond thief.
Coming attractions: “The World of Tomorrow,” “Proof”