Every actor has roles they regret taking, but few are as open about their dislike of a project as Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2020 she was quizzed about her “least favorite performance” and didn’t even hesitate before dubbing one movie a “disaster”.
This is 2001’s Shallow Hal, a romantic comedy starring Paltrow opposite Jack Black. The concept is that Black plays a man hypnotized into seeing a person’s inner beauty, leading him to fall in love with a 300lb woman who he believes resembles the skinny Paltrow.
Shallow Hal has not aged well, if it was ever good at all. It’s been described as “an endless parade of fat jokes” and just outright “cruel”. Paltrow herself seems to have realized this early on. While wearing the character’s prosthetic fat suit Paltrow decided to go down to a restaurant and order a drink, describing what happened as “incredibly isolating and really lonely and sad”, and that:
“I didn’t expect it to feel so upsetting. I thought the whole thing would be funny, and then as soon as I put it on, I thought, well, you know, this isn’t all funny.”
Paltrow seems genuinely regretful about taking the role, perhaps compounded by her plus-sized body double used for close-ups developing an eating disorder after the movie. Ivy Snitser went public with her story earlier this year, saying that she was “technically starving to death” and that:
“I got really scared and I just got really small. I was like: maybe I’m done with the concept of fame, maybe I don’t want to be an actor. Maybe I’ll do something else.”
Well, audiences on Hulu are still laughing along with the movie, as it’s just re-entered the top ten most-streamed movies and is climbing the chart fast. We suspect Paltrow would prefer this movie be sealed in a box and thrown into the deepest ocean, so she’s unlikely to be happy it’s still being sought out by millions of viewers.
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Khushi Patel is a science fiction author who lives in Austin, Texas. She has published three novels, and her work has been praised for its originality and imagination. Khushi is a graduate of Rice University, and she has worked as a software engineer. She is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and her books have been nominated for several awards.