It’s what’s on the inside that matters. In 2001, Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow fell in love in Shallow Hal while learning all about the importance of inner beauty.
In the classic rom-com, penned by the Farrelly brothers, the School of Rock actor plays Hal, who follows his dying father’s advice to only date physically perfect women. However, after he has an unexpected encounter with motivational speaker Tony Robbins (played by himself), he becomes hypnotized to only see women’s beauty from within. That’s when he meets, and subsequently falls for, Rosemary (Paltrow), and remains unaware of her actual appearance as they date.
The Goop founder looked nearly unrecognizable throughout the film, even donning a fat suit and prosthetic makeup to portray the character.
“I had no sense of where I ended,” Paltrow recalled of her transformation to the Los Angeles Times in November 2001. “Being in the suit, it’s like you have to create body language; fat dictates your body language. So once I found the center of gravity in the suit and didn’t knock things over, then I had the physicality of it.”
She added at the time, “No one would even look at me. If I was walking by a table, you know how naturally you just glance up. But people would see that I was heavy in their peripheral vision and not look, because I think they assume that’s the polite thing to do. It was incredibly isolating and really lonely and sad. … I didn’t expect it to feel so upsetting. I thought the whole thing would be funny, and then as soon as I put it on, I thought, well, you know, this isn’t all funny.”
While the film was criticized ahead of its release over potential fat-shaming remarks, the creative team made it clear that was not their intention in crafting the romantic comedy.
“We have nothing to hide,” codirector Peter Farrelly told the California newspaper at the time. “This movie’s heart is in the right place. … You’ve got to realize that if you fall in love with a particular person and you do marry them and you spend your life with them, they’re not going to look like that in 40 years. So you better be in love with the thing inside.”
Not everyone saw the film’s merits as even the Glee alum notably looked back on the film in February 2020 during a Netflix interview. She quizzed best friend Kevin Keating on her favorite and least favorite acting performances, to which Keating was quick to note what he perceived was her least-loved role.
“I would say it would be Shallow Hallow,” Keating quipped at the time, mixing up the film’s title. “I’m not sure who told you to do that one, but it wasn’t me.”
Paltrow agreed with her friend, noting, “Exactly, that was before your time. See what happened? Disaster.”
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