For Hollywood stars, rehab has become a rite of passage, but not always the kind you think. Sometimes, it's just their personal brands that need rehabilitation. Just ask Gwyneth Paltrow.
Heralded as a gorgeous and gifted ingénue in the nineties, Paltrow quickly rose up the celebrity ladder (alongside her fiancé at the time, Brad Pitt) and capped off that decade with a Best Actress Oscar in 1999. But 2011 seems to be centuries away from that bygone era of golden tresses and Hollywood happiness.
Gwyneth, remember when everyone loved you? When did it all go wrong? Did it begin with your burbling, emotional acceptance speech at the Oscars? Or the much-criticized fat suit you wore for the 2001 movie Shallow Hal? Perhaps it was the quip about British men and their lack of romantic prowess (the British tabloids were merciless over that) or, conversely, the time you were quoted as saying Brits are more intelligent and civilized than Americans?
If Paltrow was angling for Miss Unpopularity, she won that race. By 2008, poison pens were poised and ready to mock the debut of GOOP, her lifestyle newsletter. And it was by everyone from Vanity Fair to The Independent.
Jackie Burns, celebrity columnist for MSN Canada, believes that GOOP was Paltrow's biggest trip-up. "I think people took exception with the fact that she was telling people how to live their lives," Burns says. Yet isn't that exactly how lifestyle gurus like Oprah, Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray make their daily scratch? By telling people how to live? "She's the person people love to hate," Burns says. "She's got this holier-than-thou vibe about her."
Many celebs have rehabbed their image with great success. Remember when Angelina Jolie was a freaky goth, wearing vials of blood and open-mouth-kissing her brother on the red carpet? What about Katie Holmes, who went from Dawson's Creek to matriarchy Mrs. Cruise with a sleek new bob and eerie robot-like speech? We may not like Holmes much any more, but her brand revival succeeded in making her seem less of a child bride.
It takes a concerted effort to change public opinion. Perhaps that is why Paltrow's projects this year have been so varied and even surprising. In the musical realm, Paltrow performed with Cee-Lo at the Grammys and on Glee. Her latest movie is Country Strong. Really ... country music?
Snobs often turn their noses up at country music, so Paltrow, who is persistently seen as elitist and stuck-up, aimed well with this one. Over the past year, it seems, she has received some of her shine back. She is reportedly entertaining a record deal and is also shilling a cookbook, My Father's Daughter, due this May. The cookbook, of course, is full of recipes for burgers and fries and mac and cheese, not the macrobiotic diet she previously touted. Paltrow's rebranding as an everywoman is, in short, almost complete.
If only travails of a more conventional kind could be so successfully beat. To the Lindsay Lohans, Charlie Sheens and John Gallianos of the celebrity world, try going to Gwyneth. She might have some useable advice for you.