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Paltrow on Emma... and Boyfriends

Do we really need another Austen film about the manners and mores of early 19th-century England?

Paltrow: I had read Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, but not Emma. When I read it, I thought, It's brilliant---and so funny and sweet. We're so starved for that kind of material. In this time of email, phones and movies about explosions and car crashes and aliens blowing things up, it's nice to have a film that's about people and the mistakes they make, and falling in love.

Wasn't it risky trying to match British accents with all those dyed-in-the-wool limey actors?

At first, I thought, Oh brother, I've really bitten off more than I can chew. By the second week, the English crew were teaching me Cockney rhyming slang.

Are they bringing out a line of Emma Barbies?

If they do, I hope I have the licensing.

Emma's a meddler and a wanna-be matchmaker--she pokes her nose into everything. Is that close to home?

I don't share any of those qualities. I'm no matchmaker. I pretty much let people alone. But I loved Emma, though at times I hated her. I disliked the ruthless way she is determined to help, no matter what cost to the person she's helping. She thinks she knows everything. But I think it's important to see a heroine who is not perfect and makes mistakes and feels the pain of those mistakes--and then ultimately grows and learns from that.

Isn't there some irony in the fact that Emma is a gossip and in real life, since you've been going with Brad, you've become a prime gossip target?

I can see the irony--and yes, we're trying to cope. It's difficult to explain. I can understand why we're interesting to people, but I just feel like nothing's different. And I sometimes forget that I'm a recognizable person. Then suddenly I see someone staring at me at the supermarket and I think, "Oh God."

Has it dampened your private life?

Yes, but the whole thing is silly. We can't go to a mall, can't go to any tourist sites. We go to restaurants and bookstores, walk around, ride our bikes in Manhattan, until someone goes, "Omigosh--it's Brad!" Sometimes we go to a bar with friends, and then within minutes the bar owner is on the phone giving play-by-play reports. I don't know if anyone's gone through our garbage. Maybe they have. When Brad finished shooting 12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis gave him a paper shredder.

Then how do you retain your privacy?

We go to movies to support our friends. But we hang out alone, read papers, have coffee, watch Unsolved Mysteries or have friends over for dinner and laugh and play Pictionary. All very normal.

So, what's it like dating the Sexiest Man Alive?

I think Morgan Freeman is the Sexiest Man Alive--he's handsome, cool and awesome and wins the contest hands down. I can't understand why people go crazy when they see Brad. Maybe I'm jaded. When I was a kid, I'd think, Wow, that's Keanu Reeves! Now, I say, "Hi Keanu--what's up?"

Will you and Brad do another film together?

He's going to Argentina for his next movie (about the early years of the Dalai Lama), and I'll go with him. We're together more than we're not. We'd like to be in the same city at the same time if the right thing came up.

Your parents have been very successful in show business. Did they teach you how to cope with all of this?

I've never placed too much stock in Hollywood or in what people think of me, because it's all so fleeting. You never know when everyone's going to turn on you. If I just stay the way I am, and the way they raised me to be, then I'll be able to sail through without any kind of real heartbreak. I guess they just showed me by example.

You've got two other movies in the can. Tell us about Hard Eight, which opens later this year, and your part in it as a bizarre cocktail waitress? It sounds like a million miles from Emma.

I'm extremely proud of Hard Eight. I did it before Seven--I'm this strange woman, an emotionally retarded cocktail waitress, Clementine, very vulnerable, with skewered perceptions of what's right and wrong. It's not the Lion King--it's a dark character piece. And then there's Kilronan--they'll probably change that title, as well. It's a psychological thriller I did it with Jessica Lange, who plays the mother-in-law from hell. Later this year I'm doing a contemporary version of Great Expectations for Fox.

A final word on Emma--have you heard the Oscar buzz?

Oh, boy, I don't think about those things. I have to ignore the buzz. You can't take it all too seriously. I just take everything as a learning experience.