Gwyneth Paltrow might be a bit of a “love or hate” figure (and if you want to know why, just google her lifestyle brand Goop and read some of the comments) but the one thing neither side of the party can deny is that she knows how to make money. And we’re not talking pocket money either. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the Oscar winner is currently sat on the envy-inducing worth of $100 million. How did she do it? You’re about to find out….
If you’re ever wondered why Paltrow decided to get into acting, a quick look at her family tree should settle your mind. Whichever branch you choose to study, you’ll find someone who’s made a mint in entertainment, or at least, made a mint in something: her father is film producer-director Bruce Paltrow; her mother is actress Blythe Danner; her younger brother, Jake, is a director and screenwriter; her half-cousin is actress Katherine Moennig; her uncle is opera singer and actor Harry Danner; her cousin is actress Hillary Danner, her cousin by marriage is WeWork founder Adam Neumann; and her godfather (yep, we appreciate this doesn’t constitute a blood relation, but wait till you find out who it is) is none other than the iconic director, Steven Spielberg.
Now with that kind of family, what chance did Paltrow have not to make a success of herself, or equally, to make a success of herself without dipping at least a few toes into the murky waters of showbiz? No wonder it only took a few semesters of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before she realized she was wasting her time in the classroom and dropped out.
A Healthy Dose of Nepotism
As soon as Paltrow decided to abandon Anthropology for acting, it was go-go-go on the career front… thanks in no small part to that very special family tree we mentioned earlier. Her TV debut in 1989 came courtesy of the Bruce Paltrow directed TV movie High (1989). Her stage debut came at Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts (the very same venue she’d been watching her mother perform at for several years), while one of her first film roles was in Hook (1991), directed by none other than Mr. God Daddy himself, Steven Spielberg. Within a couple of years, however, she was making her mark on her own merit: following her first big role in Flesh and Bone (1993), the plum parts started rolling in, and by 1996 (the year she stopped being referred to as “Blythe Danner’s daughter” and Blythe Danner started answering to “Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom”), she was all set for the big time.
The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Gwyneth Paltrow
In 1996, Paltrow’s portrayal of the titular character in Jane Austen’s Emma made her the overnight darling of the film press. “Gwyneth Paltrow shines brightly as Jane Austen's most endearing character, the disastrously self-assured matchmaker Emma Woodhouse,” said Variety’s Ken Eisner, and so, almost to the letter, did everyone else. Over the next few years, Paltrow was every casting director’s dream, and every studio’s payday: Great Expectations and Sliding Doors both grossed over US$55 million globally, A Perfect Murder bought in $128 million worldwide, while Shakespeare in Love scored a massive US$289 worldwide (not to mention more awards for Paltrow than we have space to mention). Further success followed, with the likes of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Duets, Shallow Hall, and The Royal Tenenbaums all cementing her status as box office gold.
And then along came the noughties… and there, everything changed.
For several years, Paltrow seemed to have given up on Hollywood, in spirit if not in body. Small parts in the likes of Love and Other Disasters, Running with Scissors, and Infamous failed to set the world on fire, and it seemed, for at least a while, that Paltrow would never again match the dizzying heights of her Shakespeare in Love period. But then, in 2008, the part of Pepper Potts in Iron Man came a-calling, and with it, Paltrow’s career was back on track. Iron Man ended up grossing US$585 million; Iron Man 2 took US$623.9 million, and Iron Man 3 ended up taking a giant US$1.215 billion. She subsequently reprised the role in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), all of which have gone on to become some of the highest-grossing films of all time... at least according to Wiki.
She’s in Fashion
It’s not just in the movies that Paltrow has made millions. In 2005, she won her first big endorsement deal when she became the face of Estée Lauder's Pleasures perfume. The following year, she signed another lucrative deal to represent Korean fashion house, Bean Pole International, and in 2014, she joined forces with Blo Blow Bar.
Goop and Gwyneth
Controversial though it may be, you can’t deny the cultural impact of Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop. Since starting life in 2008 as a weekly lifestyle newsletter, Goop has grown into a huge, multi-national sensation, branching into e-commerce, partnering with fashion brands, creating a Netflix documentary series, and launching everything from pop-up shops to wellness summits and podcasts. It may have a slightly ‘creative’ interpretation of science, but few would argue it’s pulling power… or the millions Gwyneth, as head of the brand, has made from it.
Releasing her Inner Foodie
Paltrow might look she lives on fresh air and purified water, but the actress is actually a big old foodie at heart. Over the past decade, she’s released several well-received cookbooks, including It's All Good: Delicious Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness, Notes From the Kitchen Table, and It's All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook. She’s even credited as the reason avocado toast became such a huge deal in the 2010s.
The Route to the Millions
Paltrow’s first steps on the road to fame and fortune may have been helped along by her family, but since then, she’s truly been the agent of her own destiny. Wise film choices, a back-breaking work ethic, an entrepreneurial spirit, and, apparently, a stockpile of awesome recipes…. that’s the way to $100 million, Gwyneth Paltrow style.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee