When you’ve got Goop in your life — not to mention Netflix — who needs Iron Man? That’s more or less the message we’re getting from actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who, after a decade playing secretary and then-girlfriend to Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark in the Marvel films, is ready to say goodbye.
In a new interview with Variety, she admitted, “I feel honored to be a part of something that people are so passionate about,” though she did note, “I’m a bit old to be in a suit and all that at this point. I feel very lucky that I did it, because I actually got talked into it. I was friends with [Iron Man] director Jon Favreau. It was such a wonderful experience making the first Iron Man and then to watch how important it has become to fans.”
In regards to that first Iron Man, which was released in 2008, executive producer Louis D’Esposito explained, “Casting Gwyneth as Pepper Potts was really an inspired choice and we all felt extremely blessed that she accepted the part. She is such a fantastic actress and from the first time we watched her in the room with Robert, it was electric.”
Gwyneth, 46, found the decision to sign on an easy one: “I grew up with Marvel comics around the house because my brother loved Spider-Man from a very young age, but I had never been in a film of this size or scope. When I heard Robert Downey Jr. was playing Iron Man and that Terrence Howard was also in it, and Jon Favreau was directing, I said, ‘I’m in.'”
“In the comic, Pepper Potts is Tony’s secretary who fawns over him a bit,” explained Jon Favreau. “We wanted to update the role based on Gwyneth, who is sharp, poised, and classy. Pepper Potts keeps Tony in line and on track and organizes his life. There is a yin and yang between them that culminates in a bit of a romantic tension. We wanted to explore that dynamic a bit because it really wasn’t necessarily fully defined in the original comic.”
“There [was] definitely an underlying sexual chemistry between Tony and Pepper, but it’s more about what they don’t say than what they don’t do with each other,” she observed. “Pepper is the closest person in Tony’s life and is really his lightning rod. She protects him, takes the hit for him when he screws up and keeps him on time and as responsible as she can. Tony is a genius and is able to create all these amazing things, but, like many artists, he’s not very good with the pragmatic side of his life, and that’s where Pepper steps in and whips him into shape.”
Gwyneth reprised the role of Pepper in Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and this April’s Avengers: Endgame. The latter of which, if rumors are to be believed, could not only mark the end of her run in these films, but Robert Downey Jr.’s as well should Iron Man not survive.
Despite all this, the actress is certainly leaving the door open for further appearances, either in new sequences or flashbacks: “If they said, ‘Can you come back for a day?’, I will always be there if they need me.”
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26.