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Mark Hull - Richard Allen

Gwyneth Paltrow
one of the most famous
actresses of the 1990s.
has starred in many films
and millions of people
have seen her on the screen.

Gwyneth was born in Los Angeles in 1973. She grew up in a family closely involved with the entertainment business. Her father is a producer and her mother is an actress. At the age of 11 she moved to New York, and was educated at Spence, New York's most expensive school for girls. Gwyneth did not always want to be an actress and for a time she studied History of Art at the University of California.

Gwyneth soon decided that college life was not for her, and began to pursue a career in acting. 'Growing up, I loved Grace Kelly,' she says.'
She had so much poise, she was so stylish, she was a lady. And I loved Vanessa Redgrave and Julia Roberts. Julia's performance in Pretty Woman was inspirational. Seeing a woman behaving with such abandonment, in such a natural way, it was liberating. Her performance really made me want to be an actress.'

In 1991 she began her film career in Shout, a film with John Travolta. Later, she played the young Wendy in Steven Speilberg's Hook. There is a story that the Paltrow family were standing in a cinema queue one night, with a family friend, Steven Speilberg, and that he casually asked if the 16 year old Gwyneth would like a part in Hook.

In 1995 she starred with Brad Pitt in Seven. Gwyneth and Brad fell in love and their romance became news. Everyone wanted to know more about the beautiful couple. Brad and Gwyneth got engaged and were going to get married. However, the relationship did not last. When Brad and Gwyneth separated
the media wanted to know all the details. This was very hard for Gwyneth and she was unhappy with the attention from the Press.

Although Hollywood was
courting her, Gwyneth was keeping her distance. She wanted to choose her roles and star in interesting films – she turned down the leading part in The Avengers and in Titanic. She also chose to live in Greenwich Village, New York, rather than near Hollywood, on the West coast. 'Los Angeles just feels shallow to me,' she says. 'It's all show business.'

In 1996, Gwyneth started working on the first of three British films. Her first leading role was in the film, Emma, based on a book by Jane Austen. She was cast in preference to many other British actresses by the producer, Harvey Weinstein. In 1998 she starred with John Hannah and John Lynch in Sliding Doors, which was one of the most successful films of that year. And then in 1999 her role in Shakespeare in Love has made her even more famous, and won her an Oscar award for the best actress. 'Harvey Weinstein is basically the reason I'm turning into a British actress,' says Gwyneth.

For the last three years, Gwyneth has spent 4 months each year shooting movies in Britain. 'I have spent quite a bit of time in England,' she says. ' I like it. I get it – the way to live, the sense of humour. I didn't when I first came. I thought, 'I'm an American and we speak the same language, it'll be the same'. But it's not. You have just got to adapt.'

Many people think that Gwyneth now speaks English better than any American actor before her. She is good at listening and picks up languages quickly – she is fluent in French and Spanish and is learning Italian. For Jim Carter, who acted in Shakespeare in Love, Gwyneth's accent is enchanting: 'I like her English accent more than her real one - when she speaks English she sounds like a princess,' he says.

After the success of Shakespeare in Love, Gwyneth's future as one of Hollywood's brightest stars seems certain. Gwyneth sees the reason for her success and fame modestly: 'The parts I've chosen just seemed like the right ones to do at the time; there's not been any game plan. I don't worry about what I'm going to do next.'

The film industry reinvents Shakespeare

Although Shakespeare in Love has been a hit in both America and Britain, the film nearly didn’t happen. Back in 1993, Julia Roberts pulled out of the lead part after Daniel Day Lewis refused a role. The producer even tried to drop the word Shakespeare from the title of the movie.

‘Everybody thinks watching something Shakespeare-related is like going to the dentist’, he said. So, why have so many people enjoyed the film?

The young Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes, is suffering from
writers' block, but regains his writing powers when he meets Viola, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Their romance becomes the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. At the end of the film, Viola provides Shakespeare with inspiration once more and he goes on to write Twelfth Night with Viola in the main role. 

The film is set in Elizabethan London and the combination of historical interest, beautiful costumes and romance has made it a hit with a wide range of audiences. However, Shakespeare in Love is not based on historical facts. Very little is known about Shakespeare's life, which adds to many people's fascination with the writer. As Ian Rowley of the Royal Shakespeare Company says, 'Who was he? Was he a woman? Did he actually write the plays? Are there five more hidden away in the attic somewhere?'

Although the film is not based on historical fact, many of the characters in the play did exist. The British actor Dame Judi Dench plays a mature Queen Elizabeth, and Shakespeare's contemporary, Philip Marlowe, did in fact die in a
drunken brawl in London. Lord Wessex, played by Colin Firth, is the only character in the film who existed neither in real life nor in Shakespeare's writing.

Many Shakespeare enthusiasts
say that the film
encouraged people to read more of Shakespeare's plays and poetry. One thing is certain, Shakespeare's popularity is set to continue into the next century!

Source: English Digest


starred: has taken the lead part (ha protagonizado)
grew up:
became an adult (creció)
involved with: participating in (involucrad
a en, relacionada con)
to pursue: to try to achieve something (
a tratar de alcanzar)
poise: balance (equilibrio)
abandonment: with little self-control (poco autocontrol)
a cinema queue (UK): a movie theater line (US) (la cola del cine)
the media: press, radio and TV (los medios)
hard: difficult (difícil, duro)
her: protecting her (mimándola)
turned down: refused (rechazó, no aceptó)
shallow: not deep or intelligent (hueco, vacío)
in preference: pre-selected, chosen (pre-seleccionada)

the reason I'm turning into: the reason I'm becoming (el motivo por el cual me estoy transformando en)
: making films (filmando)
to adapt: to change or accomodate (
que adaptarte)
picks up: learns (aprende)

: charming, fascinating (encantador)
pulled out
: removed herself from (se retiró de, renunció a)
writers' block: writer's mental inability (bloqueo intelectual de los escritores)
regains: recovers (recupera)
attic: open space at the top of a house (ático, desván)
drunken brawl: alcoholic dispute (pelea de borracho)
d: stimulated (estimuló a)
certain: sure (segura, cierta)