Gwyneth Paltrow Once Asked for Robert Downey Jr’s Advice on How to Play an Addict

Robert Downey Jr.’s tumultuous past with addiction might’ve made him the perfect actor to help Gwyneth Paltrow with this role. When Paltrow was tapped to play an addict, she figured she could seek inspiration from Downey Jr.’s own experiences.

Robert Downey Jr. gave Gwyneth Paltrow great advice when it came to addiction

Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow posing at the premiere of 'Iron Man 2'.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Paltrow did a lot of research to get into the mind of an addict for her 2010 feature Country Strong. She played troubled country singer Kelly Canter in the flick, who’d spend most of the film battling her self-destructive lifestyle. The film required Paltrow to step out of her comfort zone in multiple ways. She wasn’t a fan of country music, so she had to familiarize herself with the genre to better prepare for the role.

“I grew up in New York City where there’s no country music radio stations, so I just wasn’t exposed to it,” she once told Radio Free. “I mean, you hear the major things or the crossover acts, of course. And I loved Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin. And I remember going to see John Prine when I was younger. But I was never exposed to it a lot or heard it a lot until I took the role. And then I sort of had to get serious about learning about country music. And I really fell in love with it.”

Paltrow also had to get into the mind of an addict for the role, which she had very limited experience with. Although she experienced addiction before, it wasn’t anything hard-hitting like the drugs her character would be taking.

“It’s sort of trimmed down a lot in the movie, but [there’s a scene where] I’ve wrecked people’s lives and I kind of wake up and expect to just keep on going,” Paltrow said. “And I sort of didn’t understand that. I understand addiction. Like I used to be very addicted to cigarettes, for example. And so I understood the idea of ‘I know this is bad for me and it causes cancer, and my dad has throat cancer, but I’m going to smoke it anyway’–like that sort of disconnect or self-destructiveness. But I couldn’t understand it to the point of wrecking someone else’s life.”

But this was where Paltrow’s Iron Man co-star came in handy.

“So I e-mailed Robert Downey Jr. and I was like, ‘Just explain to me how this goes. I don’t get it. Like you spend a night where you lie and cheat and there’s no consequence, and you just barf and you could kill someone, and then you get up and have a coffee? How does that work?’ And he wrote me back the most amazing e-mail, and he just explained the psychology of it so well. So he really helped me with that,” Paltrow said.

Robert Downey Jr. is the only actor who could convince Gwyneth Paltrow to come back to acting

Downey and Paltrow had a friendship that went beyond their time on the Marvel films. The two have known each other since the 1990s, and have only seemed to have gotten closer since. In an interview with Associated Press (via Oregon Live), Paltrow reflected on her first impression of Downey.

“He was really wild, and I was very naive,” she said. “I immediately took a shine to him. … Then he went off the radar for a little while.”

Their careers have gone on different paths since their work in the Marvel films ended. Downey has continued being a presence in the film industry by starring in a wide variety of movies. He recently won his first Oscar for the Christopher Nolan film Oppenheimer.

Meanwhile, Paltrow has taken a bit of a hiatus from acting to put all of her focus on her brand company Goop. But she asserted if there was anyone who could bring her back to acting, it was Downey.

“Well, it would be very hard for me to do any acting right at the moment, just because of my job,” she explained to Entertainment Tonight. “But, I guess Robert Downey Jr. could probably always get me back.”

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