Paltrow’s Pepper Potts Gets Physical in ‘Iron Man 3’
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in "Marvel's Iron Man 3." ©MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2012 Marvel. CR: Zade Rosenthal.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) in “Marvel’s Iron Man 3.” ©MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2012 Marvel. CR: Zade Rosenthal.


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD—Gwyneth Paltrow is 40 but you’d never know it to look at award-winning actress, mom and wife of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, as she arrives for a press conference to promote her new movie “Iron Man 3.” Perhaps there’s something to the vegetarian diet she has stuck with since her good pal Leonardo DiCaprio introduced her to it two decades ago.

“He was vegetarian and he’d talk about how dirty meat is and how bad factory farming is. I haven’t eaten red meat in 20 years, and although Leo’s not totally responsible, he definitely planted a seed,” Paltrow told the British newspaper The Observer. “When I turned seriously macrobiotic, it coincided with my father having been diagnosed with cancer (in 1999). I felt I could heal him by proxy.” (Her father, director Bruce Paltrow, died in 2002.)

Paltrow is serious about staying fit and eating healthy. She’s even written a cookbook called “It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great.” She is proud to say that Martin prefers her cooking to any other.

Though she has just come off a major world tour to promote the film, the third in the highly successful trilogy based on the Marvel comic book franchise, hitting the premieres in both Paris and London, she doesn’t look the worse for wear. For a Hollywood press conference, the leggy fashion icon is wearing a gorgeous white off-the-shoulder sleeveless top with a matching scarf, black pants and black high heels. Her long blond hair is loose and tucked behind her ears. On this Earth Day, she has opted for very bright red lipstick, which accents her clear, alabaster skin. Her gold bracelets jingle as she animatedly talks about reprising her role as Pepper Potts, the soul mate and business associate of Robert Downey Jr.’s billionaire superhero Iron Man/Tony Stark, in this third installment. Having already watched the movie with her kids—Apple, 8 and Moses, who also visited her on set while she was shooting —she is happy to report they enjoyed it too, especially because mum gets to kick some butt this time around.

Q: How did you like showing off your physical abilities in this installment?

Paltrow: I feel really really lucky that I got to play Pepper for that reason. Very rarely do you start at one distinction place (with a character) and end up somewhere else. I really loved (Pepper and Tony’s) relationship in their first movie where she was a supplicant and cleaning up his messes. I loved that because it was very specific. And to get all the way through to where she is at the end of the trilogy—it was a big transformation. One of the things I loved most is that she steps into her power in all areas and you see her as a very intelligent, articulate CEO and she has a very equal relationship with Tony where she wants her needs met as well while remaining a very supportive woman in his life. Of course, then she turns into a superhero … or sort of. I think it was a great transformation and I feel really lucky to be part of it.

Q: How do you describe your character in this movie?

Paltrow: Pepper really comes into her own. It’s a real sort-of new feminist role, in a way. She really is stepping into her power. She’s finding her voice. She’s on equal footing on her relationship with Tony. She’s asking that her needs be met as well. And then, for fun, she gets to do all this physical stuff at the end.

Q: Could there be an “Iron Woman” movie with you in the starring role?

Paltrow: I think there could be. I don’t know. I’m a little old for this role. (She smiles.)

Q: You’ve been traveling a lot to promote this. What have you discovered in your travels?

Paltrow: I will say one of the most thrilling parts about going all over the place to promote this movie and talking about this movie is that people really love seeing Pepper in the suit and kicking ass. So I would come back if … In the comics, she becomes Rescue, her own person.

Q: This film has the distinction of being a sequel to not only the “Iron Man” franchise, but also the “Avengers” franchise. Were there any particular challenges for you because of this?

Paltrow: The truth is these movies work because Robert plays Tony Stark. Not only because of the similarities in their own lives and not because of his specific brand of vulnerability and strength and humor and all those things, but because Robert has a really big picture creative mind about what these movies should feel like. We all know the people at Marvel are all amazing, and you have all the stunts, CGI and action in these movies, but I think one particular strength of Robert’s that we don’t see onscreen is that he’s always asking, “What’s the big picture here? How can we make it feel real? And how can we make it something that we want to care about and watch?” That’s why I think the movies keep working and they’re not a weaker carbon copy of the one before.

Q: Your co-star Don Cheadle complained that his suit was really heavy. How did you find wearing it?

Paltrow: (mock exasperation) These guys are wimps! The suit is not that bad.

Q: What do you want kids to take away from this movie especially in light of the recent bombings in Boston?

Paltrow: It’s true, we do live in an unsafe world. I’m dealing with this now with my 7-year-old (Moses). He’s grappling with the fact that the world is unsafe and there are people who do harmful things. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with presenting them with the idea (of evildoers)—I don’t think we should lie to our children and tell them the world is perfect and everybody’s happy and everybody’s out there to do good. It’s just part of a bigger conversation. I know that after my children saw (“Iron Man 3”), I had a conversation with my son (about the violence). It’s a good, sort of contained place, to have a conversation.

Q: How was it working with your director on this Shane Black, who took over from Jon Favreau on this third installment?

Paltrow: I can only speak for myself. When I started “Iron Man 3,” I was very uncomfortable with the fact that Jon wasn’t there directing and I felt like Jon cast the movie and was responsible in part for “The Avengers,” so it was weird that he wasn’t directing. As we went on, I really warmed to Shane and his terrible outfits. (She chuckles.) He is so sharp and so smart and his dialogue was incredible. What we started with on this movie that we didn’t start with on the previous two films was a really excellent, finished screenplay, and I think it really shows in the film. Shane is super-talented and he took it up a notch, which is really difficult to do, so I ended up having a terrible amount of respect for him.

Q: Your character, Pepper, seems ready to do anything for Tony. How far would you go for love?

Paltrow: As you go through life you realize that the love that you have for the people in your life and their love for you is all that matters. It’s really about how you regard them and how they regard you. I think we’ve all felt like we’ve had these extraordinary lucky lives and we’ve been able to do films like this, but really at the end of the day, it’s about the quality of your relationships. I would do whatever it takes for them.