Gwyneth Paltrow’s Shallow Hal body double reveals how the movie nearly broke her

Actor reflects on her mixed feelings about being cast in the 2001 comedy

Peony Hirwani
Wednesday 23 August 2023 07:59 BST
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Gwyneth Paltrow’s body double from Shallow Hal has given a rare interview in which she discusses the impact of playing the Hollywood star’s body double in the 2001 comedy.

The film follows Hal (Jack Black), a superficial man obsessed with dating stereotypically “hot” women who is hypnotised into seeing a person’s inner beauty. He ends up falling in love with Rosemary (Paltrow), unaware that she looks very different to how he sees her in his mind.

Ivy Snitzer, who was the real-life body double for scenes where Paltrow would otherwise be wearing a 25-pound fatsuit and prosthetics, was cast for body, thigh and arm closeups of the character Rosemary.

Paltrow alternated between scenes wearing the fatsuit and ones without, the latter to show how Hal sees Rosemary while he is hypnotised.

In a new interview with The Guardian, Snitzer reflected on how she underestimated just how many people would see her body featured in the movie, and the effect this had on her mental and physical health.

“It didn’t occur to me that the film would be seen by millions of people,” she said. “It was like the worst parts about being fat were magnified. And no one was telling me I was funny. It is not the worst thing in the world to be fat. I got really scared.

“I was like: maybe I’m done with the concept of fame, maybe I don’t want to be an actor. Maybe I’ll do something else. I just want to make people laugh; I don’t want to make people sad.”

Snitzer said that “of all of the fat people in the world that they could have hired for that job, they hired me, because of my personality”.

“Before, I had to fight really hard to be seen as a personality and not just my size. I wasn’t body positive, because it didn’t really exist that way. I was kind of ‘me positive,’ because I was like: I’m funny, that’s good enough! I hated my body the way I was supposed to. I ate a lot of salads. I had eating disorders that I was very proud of.”

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The actor recalled that the movie in itself didn’t make her feel bad about herself.

“Until you know, other people started telling me I probably should have felt bad about myself,” she said. “I wanted to be small and not seen. I’m sure that’s there, but I don’t ever remember consciously thinking about it. I was always my personality. I’ve always been a personality in this body.”

In 2020, Paltrow revealed the least favourite performance of her career to be Shallow Hal.

In an interview with W magazine, the Contagion star spoke about the “disturbing” experience of wearing a fat suit on the film set. “The first day I tried it on, I was in the Tribeca Grand and I walked through the lobby.”

“It was so sad; it was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese. I was wearing this black shirt with big snowmen on it. For some reason, the... clothes they make for women that are overweight are horrible. I felt humiliated because people were really dismissive.”

At the time of its release, Shallow Hall received criticism for discriminating and mocking overweight people.

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