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Paltrow on Emma

Many people expected that you would get an Oscar nomination for Emma. Were you disappointed that you didn't?

No, I'm not disappointed. I was surprised that people thought I would be nominated. I think it was a terrific year for women. I'm glad that people can go around and say "How come you weren't nominated?" or "It's such a shame that Debbie Reynolds wasn't nominated," or Winona for The Crucible, which was fantastic. You know, on and on. Why wasn't Madonna or Courtney Love or whoever nominated?

Why do you think Jane Austen so obviously makes contact with our quite different modern sensibilities?

 

She had such insight into people that we recognize ourselves in them. She also liked people, with all of their faults and vanities and even vices. If you see yourself in her characters, even perhaps an exaggerated version of your own faults, and you sense that she doesn't dismiss you as a bad person, it's easier to identify and empathize. She also had a wonderful sense of humor, and it's enjoyable exploring human foibles when we can laugh at them... and maybe at ourselves.

 

It was subtle humor. It was all subtle by today's standards. To what extent was that a factor in developing the character of "Emma"?

 

Oh, there was so much there! She made you understand every nuance of Emma's character at all times. You never have that luxury with a character unless you're working with Shakespeare, or Austen, or someone who really existed that you can research.

 

But what can we say about Emma? She was what? Young?

 

She was YOUNG. Yes! She was young! I don't think she was narcissistic or shallow. I don't think she really had a bad bone in her body. She was just young, and you watch her grow up during the course of the film... becoming the person you always knew was inside, once she allowed that grownup side to come out.

 

Still, Emma can appear shallow. Isn't that the danger in playing her -- that she'll come across as a lightweight?

 

Oh, yes. Getting the balance was everything. Sometimes I would get up to go to work and read a scene and think, "I just don't like Emma today." I had to remind myself that she didn't stay that way throughout.

 

How did your boyfriend, Brad Pitt, react?

 

He's my harshest critic. He wasn't sure I could pull it off, but when he saw it, he said, "Well you did it!" That was a good moment.