Gwyneth Paltrow on the power of turning 50: “We stop trying to be what other people are expecting us to be”

When she was 20 or 30 years old, how did Gwyneth Paltrow see what she’d be doing at age 50? “I don’t think I thought about it,” she replied. “I thought, you know, 50 is, like, you’re dead at that point!”

Though clearly far from dead, Paltrow, who will indeed turn 50 this week, is already well into a second life. She’s founder and CEO of the lifestyle brand Goop. It comprises a website, TV shows, and lots of products aimed at making you feel and look good.

The Goop flagship store is in Santa Monica, Calif., where Paltrow was raised by her mom, actress Blythe Danner, and dad, producer-director Bruce Paltrow.

Growing up watching her mom, Paltrow knew she wanted to act. And success came early; she won an Academy Award for best actress for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love,” at age 26.

“It’s crazy when I think about that now,” Paltrow told correspondent Tracy Smith. “At the time I thought I was, like, a full adult, you know?”

“What do you think that did to your mind?”

“F***** it up!” she laughed.

Actress and CEO of Goop Gwyneth Paltrow.

CBS News

In what way?  “You know, to reach that kind of, like, pinnacle at that age and have that much scrutiny and attention, and then it’s like, no matter what you do after that, you can’t really win, right? It’s like you have a few years of it’s, like, nothing’s gonna live up to that. It’s just a lot to hold.”

She continued to star in movies for the next decade, from “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” to “The Royal Tenenbaums,” to “Iron Man.” But her father’s untimely death in 2002 put her on a new path.

Smith asked, “When did you start caring about wellness?”

“I’ll tell you exactly: When my father got cancer,” Paltrow replied. “And I was helping him one day feeding him with a syringe and feeding tube. And it struck me, like, ‘What is in this can that I’m injecting directly into his stomach?’ And it was the first time I made a connection between food [and] wellness. I’ll never forget that moment.”

She started researching and sharing what she learned, which turned into the website Goop [her initials, plus two Os, because she’d heard successful internet companies have double-Os in their name].

Today, the company’s reported to be a $250 million business. It’s also a controversial one. Some doctors and scientists have slammed Goop, and Paltrow, for recommending methods and products that aren’t scientifically proven.

Smith asked, “What do you say to people who say that you’re promoting pseudoscience?”

“I genuinely don’t understand where that comes from, because we don’t do that,” Paltrow said. “We’ve never done that. I mean, especially when we started, there were so many modalities and ways of achieving wellness that had no scientific backing, but that have worked in India for thousands of years, or worked in China. So, I think it was, like, a way to take shots at us. But there’s nothing that we talk about that’s actually that wacky.”

“Some of it’s maybe a little wacky?” said Smith.

“Okay, like what?”

“Maybe the egg?”

Goop used to say that a $66 jade egg, inserted vaginally, could regulate hormones and tighten the pelvic floor. They were investigated by a California medical task force for false claims in 2018, and settled the case for $145,000. They admitted no wrongdoing, but offered full refunds, and tweaked the product description. And they’re still selling the egg online.

Paltrow said, “There’s a whole industry now around strengthening your pelvic floor. We were just early!”

She said that she and Goop are often misunderstood because they’re ahead of their time: “We would talk about something and the internet would freak out. And then, you know, six months later or two years later it would be widely adopted.”

One example, she said, was “the gluten-free thing … People thought that was totally nuts.”

“Where at the time people were like, ‘Oh, that Gwyneth’?” asked Smith

“Yeah, this crazy girl talking about, you know, gluten-free, or getting a nice divorce.”

Yes, the divorce. When Paltrow and musician Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling” in 2014, eyes rolled. But they’ve raised their two kids together while remaining good friends.

Smith asked, “As much as people said, Oh, conscious uncoupling, you guys really did figure it out.”

“I think we did. I think we did,” Paltrow said. “And he’s completely my family, and I love him, and he would do anything for me. I would do anything for him. We would do anything for our kids. We really did commit to wanting our children to be as unscathed by the divorce as possible.”

Paltrow now has a blended family with husband, TV producer Brad Falchuk, and his two kids. Her oldest, Apple, just left for college.

How was that?  “Oh wow. I know it sounds nuts, but it feels almost as profound as giving birth,” Paltrow said.

And as she approaches another milestone, Gwyneth Paltrow seems to be handling it well: “As a woman, you turn 50 and maybe we all give ourselves permission to be exactly who we are. And we stop trying to be what other people are expecting us to be, and you kind of exhale into this other thing.”

“Have you given yourself permission to be who you are?” asked Smith.  

“Yes!” she replied. “But it’s taken me time.”

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Story produced by Jon Carras. Editor: Steven Tyler.

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