Before Chris Martin and their eventual “conscious uncoupling,” Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines for her 1990s and very early 2000s romances with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck. (Not shocking to see why, considering those three were—and still are—some of the most famous and gorgeous faces in the world.) Appearing on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, Paltrow opened up about her love life during this era, saying of ex-fiancé Pitt that it was “major, major love at first sight” when they met on the set of the movie Seven, People reports. “It was crazy,” she said—and the couple went on to be together from 1994 to 1997, when they called off their engagement.
“One night we were on the balcony of this house we were renting in this little town in Argentina,” Paltrow said of Pitt’s proposal in December 1996. “I wish I remembered exactly what he said, but he proposed, it was fantastic, I was thrilled. We had talked about it, but I was surprised in the moment, I remember that. I must have been 24.”
Only six months after getting engaged, the Hollywood power couple called it off, with Paltrow revealing that she didn’t feel ready to get married. “I had a lot of development to do, looking back in hindsight,” she said. “In a lot of ways, I didn’t really fully start to come into myself until I was 40 years old. And I had such a pleasing issue. I didn’t really even understand how to listen to my instincts and act from that place for what was right for me. I was always trying to adjudicate what was right for everyone else.”
She continued “When I look back, I really was a kid, really more than most 22-, 24-year-olds I meet now. I really had not explored who I was, what was important to me, what my boundaries were.” Despite not feeling ready, Paltrow said she was “totally heartbroken when we broke up.”
“It was the right thing at that time, but it was really hard,” she said. “There were a number of things that had happened, he was nine years older than me so he was far more…he knew what he wanted, he was ready to do it, and I was kind of all over the place, so it was really one of those difficult things where I felt like ‘Oh my God, not only am I not ready, I’m not living up to the standards again.’ It was a familiar refrain I felt about myself.”
Pitt and Paltrow have remained close, she said, calling him a “great guy”: “He’s wonderful,” she said. “I really like him a lot.”
Later in the interview, host Alex Cooper brought up Ben Affleck, who was linked to Paltrow on and off from 1997 to 2000—even getting GP to indulge in a game of “Brad or Ben.” Who is more romantic? Pitt, apparently. Who was more likely to make you laugh? Affleck. Who are you more likely to get into an argument with? Affleck again, Paltrow said. Paltrow said both were “good kissers,” and, as to who was better in bed, Paltrow called the choice “really hard.”
“Brad was like the sort of major chemistry, love of your life, kind of, at the time, and then Ben was like, technically excellent,” she said. “I can’t believe my daughter is listening to this!”
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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