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A look back at Gwyneth Paltrow's trial and its viral moments

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

A lot has been happening over the last few days, and now we're going to spend a few moments diving into just one of those events. Gwyneth Paltrow has won her ski crash case. And if you have not been following along, in 2019 retired optometrist Terry Sanderson filed a lawsuit against Paltrow. He alleged the actress committed a ski and run, as he called it, while vacationing in Park City, Utah, in 2016. Paltrow countersued Sanderson, claiming that he, in fact, struck her. And as a result, she testified...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GWYNETH PALTROW: Well, I lost half a day of skiing.

SUMMERS: New Yorker writer Naomi Fry has been following all of this. Her latest story is titled "Gwyneth Paltrow's Trial Is Her Best Role In Years." Welcome.

NAOMI FRY: Hi.

SUMMERS: So celebrity trials like this one, they often capture people's attention and imagination. Why is that?

FRY: Well, I think there's, you know, a couple of different reasons. As a culture, we're fascinated with celebrities. And so, of course, the celebrity trial is one way for us to get an extended look over days or weeks at celebrities usually dealing with things that they'd rather keep under wraps. And I think that is extremely attractive to a lot of viewers.

SUMMERS: I mean, it has been hard to surf the internet without seeing news about this trail. But I am curious, for you personally, what drew you to this trial?

FRY: With this trial, I think, there was something relatively guiltless about watching it. We got a celebrity trial which is letting us get a glimpse into the life of a famous person, but we're not getting it with a side of trauma that we're, you know, usually used to having to bear as we're watching, you know, a legal spectacle like this.

SUMMERS: I mean, this trial has created a number of viral moments. But I'm curious, is there one or two that stands out for you?

FRY: I mean, obviously, the most famous and shared meme was where the plaintiff's lawyer asked Gwyneth Paltrow if the accident - the collision with Sanderson deterred her from having an enjoyable vacation, and Paltrow said, well, I did lose half a day of skiing. But I did also like another moment when, again, the lawyer - Sanderson's lawyer asked Paltrow how tall she was, and Paltrow said...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PALTROW: I'm just under 5'10.

KRISTIN VANORMAN: OK. I am so jealous.

PALTROW: I think I'm shrinking, though.

VANORMAN: You and me both. I have to wear 4-inch heels just to make it to 5'5. So...

PALTROW: They're very nice.

VANORMAN: Oh, thank you.

FRY: I just thought that was a very telling reaction, and ironically so because the lawyer is supposed to be, obviously, you know, on the offense with her, and yet she seemed kind of as if she was in her thrall.

SUMMERS: We often try and end conversations like these in interviews with some sort of a big-picture question, one that has significance. But I guess my question for you is, does this trial have a larger significance beyond being a really nice kind of breezy distraction for a lot of people?

FRY: I think it's definitely a breezy distraction, and let's not knock breezy distractions. But beyond that, I do think it has some significance, at least in terms of how we look at celebrity culture because nowadays, especially post-Trump, post-BLM, celebrities are very much on board with trying to appear like regular people. And Paltrow might strike a lot of people as annoying and out of touch, but she is in other ways unafraid to kind of be an old-school star who is removed from the kind of hustle and bustle of regular life. You know, it kind of gives an interesting twist to the way we've been thinking about where we are in our relationship to the famous.

SUMMERS: New Yorker writer Naomi Fry. Her story about the trial is called "Gwyneth Paltrow's Trial Is Her Best Role In Years." Naomi, thank you so much.

FRY: Thank you so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christopher Intagliata
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
Ivy Winfrey
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.