New love has given Gwyneth Paltrow a fresh perspective on her painful 1997 breakup with Brad Pitt, the loss of her father last year, and the drive to rejuvenate her career.
In an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer on Primetime Thursday, Paltrow unflinchingly takes responsibility for the ill-fated engagement to Pitt, but says she has found peace.
"I'm so lucky that I spent time with Brad, somebody who was such a good person! Especially when I was, like, such a mess," Paltrow said.
The interview marked the first time Paltrow, 31, talked on camera about losing her father, producer-director Bruce Paltrow, last year to throat cancer. The Oscar-winning actress also offered perspective on another ex-boyfriend, Ben Affleck, saying she wasn't too surprised that he and Jennifer Lopez put their wedding on hold last month.
"Ben makes life tough for himself," Paltrow said. "He's got a lot of complication, and you know, he really is a great guy. So I hope he sorts himself out."
It's been a tough year personally and professionally for Paltrow, who has struggled through a string of disappointing movies since winning a Best Actress Oscar in 1998 for Shakespeare in Love. She moved from New York to London and took a lighter work load, to step out of the spotlight and hone her skills on the British stage.
Then, in July of last year, she met singer Chris Martin backstage after his band, Coldplay, performed in Britain. The couple now lives together, and the blond actress is looking forward to the Oct. 17 release of her next film, Sylvia as she takes on the role of American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath.
‘We Have Very Different Value Systems’
Her engagement to Pitt in her early 20s — and seeing her life played out in the tabloids — has made Paltrow more self-protective.
Looking back, she said she regrets any pain she caused Pitt, admitting for the first time to Sawyer that she hurt him.
"My kind of internal stuff really tripped up that whole relationship," she said. "And I felt really responsible, and also like I was the architect of my own misery … I just made a big mess out of it."
Pitt and Paltrow were hounded relentlessly in their two years together. In one instance, the couple sued after nude pictures of them vacationing in the Caribbean island of St. Barts, taken with a telephoto lens, were circulated on the Internet.
Paltrow says she carried grief for the breakup with Pitt for five years.
"I was very upset for a long, long time," she said. But, she said, she is over it and now she and Pitt share a cordial relationship.
"We're able to sort of see each other and smile and wish each other well," Paltrow said. Pitt is now married to Jennifer Aniston.
Paltrow looks back on her relationship with Affleck quite differently, saying she never expected to end up with him. "I just think we have a very different sort of value system," she said.
While they were dating, Affleck told Good Morning America that he believed Paltrow's perfect man would be someone like her dad. She said that his perfect woman would be "any sort of stripper at Scores. Anyone that serves cold beer in a bikini."
Now, Paltrow laughs when reminded of her comments.
"Oh, God!" she joked. "Why do I drink before these interviews?!"
An Enduring Grace