Although Gwyneth Paltrow and her ex-fiancé Brad Pitt have both moved on from their 1997 breakup, Gwyneth, 46, candidly revealed in a new interview with Variety that calling off her engagement to Brad, 55, made her initially turn down her starring and later Oscar-winning role as Viola De Lesseps in Shakespeare In Love.
“I was in the middle of a terrible breakup and the idea of going to England and being far from home just seemed …,” she said before trailing off. “I didn’t even read [the script]. I was just like, ‘I can’t read anything right now. I’m having a really hard time.’”
After Gwyneth took some time to heal, the movie’s script went through a few changes before director John Madden could find his leading lady. “The movie had many iterations,” Gwyneth explained. “Julia Roberts was going to do it for a long time, and then that version fell apart.” The script was even sent to Titanic‘s Kate Winslet but she eventually turned it down to pursue other opportunities. “It ended up in Miramax, and I was the first person they offered it to,” Gwyn gushed. “I just couldn’t put it down. It was perfect.”
When Shakespeare In Love premiered in theaters in 1998, it instantly became a success and catapulted Gwyn to super-stardom. The following year, she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical for her performances as Viola.
The movie was such a big part of Gwyn’s life and career that her husband, Brad Falchuk, even sweetly talked about the film in his wedding vows with Gwyneth this past September. “In my husband’s wedding vows, he actually said it’s no coincidence that I played this muse because that’s who I am to him,” she recalled. “And his perception is that’s who I am in real life. It was really sweet.”