Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnny Depp, Wagatha Christie: Are high-profile lawsuits really worth it for celebs?
Gwyneth Paltrow consciously uncoupled from ordinary life years ago.
In the era of celebrity relatability, with once mysterious A-listers now sharing everything from breakfast to breakdowns on social media, she is one star completely comfortable with the world knowing she exists on a higher plane of bone broth, vagina candles, and $8,000-a-day skiing lessons.
Facing a lawsuit, many A-listers might simply choose to pay-up, regardless of whodunnit, rather than go through the rigmarole of a potentially reputation-damaging court case. But the Oscar-winner turned wellness guru is not one of them.
The internet has been flooded with Paltrow in the last two weeks, as her high-profile legal fight played out on camera. This all started with a skiing accident involving a retired optometrist in Utah in 2016, and somehow ended in global headlines about the star’s outfits, controversy over her offer to hand out treats in the courtroom – declined! – and questioning about her friendship with Taylor Swift.
She won the case – only asking for $1 in damages, because this was about principle – but for a woman who would barely have noticed making it all go away for $300,000 (£242,000), the amount she was sued for, was it really worth it?
Many were shocked hearing the details of the wealth and privilege that spilled out in court, but perhaps there were just as many impressed by her dry response when asked what she had lost as a result of the accident. “Well, we lost half a day of skiing,” quickly went viral. (Luckily, she was still able to get a massage.)
And turning the courtroom into a catwalk for her own brand Goop, as well as other designers, no doubt has helped with sales.
Depp’s two court cases – and very different outcomes
For some reason, celebrity lawsuits seem to be like buses at the moment. At the same time as Paltrow was in court in the US, here in the UK a group including Prince Harry, Sir Elton John and Liz Hurley were taking on the publisher of the Daily Mail at the High Court; last year, we had Johnny Depp v Amber Heard: Round 2 and Wagatha Christie.
In 2020, when Depp first went to court in the UK – suing the publisher of The Sun newspaper – the revelations about his and Heard’s relationship were jaw-dropping: “mega pints” of red wine, insults scrawled in blood and paint on walls, gross text messages, trashed apartments, human faeces apparently left in a bed… let alone the actual claims of abuse.
Even before he lost the case, his reputation seemed to be ruined. But in 2022, he chose to go through it all again; this time suing Heard herself and, like Paltrow’s case, all on camera. After following the UK case through news articles and bulletins, now the world was able to watch everything as it unfolded.
Depp told the US court he lost “nothing less than everything” as a result of allegations of abuse by Heard. When asked why he had chosen the humiliation of his private life being publicly scrutinised over staying quiet, he said he was “obsessed” with the truth and wanted to clear his name for himself and for his children.
After six weeks of evidence, the majority of the public seemed to side with the actor and the jury went the opposite way to the judge in the UK, finding in his favour.
Before the verdict had even been delivered, Depp was on stage in Sheffield, having joined Jeff Beck on his European tour. More gigs – and a trip to meet a rescued badger – followed in the days surrounding his legal win. Now, he is due to appear as Louis XV in Jeanne Du Barry, his first major film role since the court cases, later this year; his supergroup The Hollywood Vampires goes on tour in the summer, and there are reports he may even return to the Pirates franchise.
‘It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account’
For Depp, arguably it was all worth it. For Rebekah Vardy, who refused to back down in her lawsuit against Coleen Rooney despite a settlement being offered before the eventual court case, it probably wasn’t.
During the court hearing, it was alleged she had leaked stories to tabloids, not just about Rooney, but about teammates of her Leicester City footballer husband Jamie Vardy and others, and that she set up paparazzi shots of the England players’ wives and girlfriends during the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
In a damning verdict, Judge Justice Steyn described Vardy’s evidence as “manifestly inconsistent… evasive or implausible” – while Rooney’s evidence was “honest and reliable”.
Afterwards, Vardy maintained her innocence in an interview with TalkTV, saying: “It feels like the judge just read what was written in the media and took on their narrative bias.”
Still, she seems to be moving on. Perhaps all publicity is good publicity, as long as you can afford the costly legal fees if things don’t go your way. Her latest Instagram posts show her on the ski slopes herself; hopefully she’s aware of the dangers.
After Paltrow’s win was read out in court, the claimant, Terry Sanderson – who has to pay the star’s legal fees, as well as his own, despite the minimal $1 damages – was questioned by reporters waiting outside. Asked if the trial had been “worth it”, he replied: “Absolutely not.”
For Paltrow, perhaps it was. She has faced years of stick about her wellness brand, but has never cared about the haters. And long after the point of this case has been forgotten, the outfits – and no doubt visits to the Goop website – will live on.
Rod Stewart labels Vladimir Putin an ‘a******e’ and urges support for Ukraine ‘right to the end’
Sir Rod Stewart has lashed out at Vladimir Putin on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The music veteran branded the Russian president an “arsehole” in an interview with Sky News on Friday night.
And he said revealed his fears about the consequences of the US “pulling money away from Ukraine” as the conflict enters its third year.
“And we’ll have to join the army,” he added.
“We have to support Ukraine right to the end,” he continued, adding: “Peace in the Middle East as well.”
Sir Rod appeared on Sky News alongside friend and fellow musician, Jools Holland to discuss their new album, Swing Fever.
“We need joy, we live in very dark times,” he told Sky News.
Sir Rod described how the album “brought them together”, while pianist and composer Holland revealed how, when Sir Rod first called him to discuss the project, he believed it was a crank call.
Sir Rod is no stranger to speaking his mind.
In January last year, he called into Sky News to donate for medical scans after hearing NHS crisis stories.
He said it was ridiculous people had to wait long periods for essential treatment and called for a change in government.
Sir Rod said: “I personally have been a Tory for a long time but I think this government should stand down now and give the Labour Party a go, this is heartbreaking.
“In all my years in this country I’ve never seen it so bad… change the bloody government.”
Jessica Chastain on ‘hiding’ from her co-stars and allowing herself ‘not to be liked’
Jessica Chastain says she “hid” from her co-stars during her latest project, going out of her way to distance herself and allow herself “not to be liked”.
The 46-year-old Oscar winner, who stars in Michel Franco drama Memory, told Sky News: “Sometimes I play characters who know everything. They’re the smartest person in the room, and they know what’s going to happen.
“It was interesting to play something and to work in a way where you just didn’t know, and you were free to discover.”
She plays Sylvia, a recovering alcoholic, whose past trauma is reawakened when Saul, played by Peter Sarsgaard, follows her home from their high school reunion.
Dopesick star Sarsgaard, chips in: “I don’t mind the smartest person in the room as they also listen.”
Happily married to Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal for 15 years, he tells Sky News: “I remember when my wife was younger, some arsehole telling her, ‘Oh, you always have to be the smartest person in the room, don’t you?’
“And I think that’s something that’s levelled on people, certain women, especially, and those same people, if they’re really good at what they do, also really listen”.
Despite their good working relationship, Chastain explains how she used a method approach to bringing her character’s conflicted emotions towards Saul to the screen.
‘I didn’t know if the sound of my voice annoyed him’
“Peter and I didn’t really talk on set. We would say good morning to each other, but I kind of hid from everyone. And then we got to know each other as the characters in chronological order.
“So, every time we would get to set and speak, I was looking at him, not knowing how he felt about me, not knowing if he liked me, not knowing if the sound of my voice annoyed him.
“Just these normal things that we think about someone else, I was experiencing as Sylvia because I was allowing myself to not be liked.
“Sometimes you feel like you need to woo someone when the cameras aren’t rolling, so they’ll like you. And I was willing to be ok if he didn’t like me, to find out how the characters would interact.”
Chastain used the same approach with her onscreen daughter, Anna, played by Brooke Timber.
“I hung out with her, I had a lunch with her, but at the same time I kept her this little bit at arm’s length because Sylvia would have acted like that. And I allowed that to create a little bit of an unknowing and a tension between us.”
She goes on: “Sylvia never had an example of what good mothering would be. So, she doesn’t really know how to communicate, and to solve a problem she buys an iPhone for her daughter… I really was discovering a whole new way of mother daughter dynamic in this film.”
‘The goal was Jessica Chastain’
Meanwhile, Sarsgaard’s character Saul faces a different challenge – he is suffering from early onset dementia.
Sarsgaard says he’d never seen this aspect of dementia bought to the screen before, “the period where families are adjusting, people are adjusting to new conditions and trying to figure out how to live their lives”.
Gleaning insight from real-life dementia sufferers, including his own uncle who had the disease, he pieced together a way to faithfully portray the condition in the film.
“For me, the condition in the end was just the obstacle. The goal was Jessica Chastain… He’s just a guy who wants something incredibly beautiful. You know, he wants something that we all want in our lives. And so, it was very easy to play on some level.
“I was playing someone who had nothing to lose and didn’t mind being rejected or partially rejected – I mean I minded it – but my reaction to rejection was always to put my heart out a little bit more, show a little bit more of myself, show up, try to connect.”
Michel Franco’s next feature
Both Chastain and Sarsgaard speak incredibly highly of the man leading the film, Mexican director Michel Franco.
Chastain says the 44-year-old filmmaker whose movies often depict dysfunctional families, kept his cast on their toes.
“He did surprise me from day one when he said during rehearsals: ‘Go to the Target [a big US discount superstore] and find some clothes for Silvia’. I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve never worked like this before, except in drama school where I’m getting my costumes together for scene study class’.”
It’s a process she clearly enjoyed, reuniting with Franco over the summer on his follow-up feature Dreams, which is currently in post-production.
Memory is in UK and Irish cinemas now.
Amy Dowden: Strictly Come Dancing star says ‘no evidence of disease’ after cancer treatment
Strictly Come Dancing star Amy Dowden has revealed her latest health check showed “no evidence of disease” after undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Dowden shared the development with her 656,000 Instagram followers on Friday, describing the news from doctors as “words I dreamed of” and her “biggest accomplishment yet”.
The 33-year-old – a professional on Strictly Come Dancing since 2017 – explained that she won’t get the all-clear for five years, during which she will need monthly injections as well as regular check-ups.
But she added: “Words I never thought I’d hear at one point”, as she thanked her husband, Ben Jones, family, friends and fans for their support.
Dowden, from Caerphilly, South Wales, revealed she had been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in May last year and underwent a mastectomy.
Describing the impact of the disease, she wrote on Friday: “Chemo and this past year has certainly took its toll on my body both physically and mentally, so I’ll be taking the next few months to heal and recover.
“I have so much to strive and live for, and [I’m] so grateful for another chance at life! Something I know not all get.
“I certainly see life differently and my life has changed forever!”
The dancer also vowed to raise awareness of the disease and encourage as many people as possible to check themselves for the signs of breast cancer.
Dowden, who describes herself as a “breast cancer warrior” on her Instagram profile, has partnered with stars including EastEnders actor James Bye, comedian Brian Conley and McFly singer Tom Fletcher.
In her post, she added: “Dance floor, I’m coming for you!”.
Fellow Strictly stars including Dianne Buswell, Anton Du Beke, Giovanni Pernice, Oti Mabuse and Gorka Marquez were among an array of colleagues who congratulated Dowden.
The post was liked more than 132,000 times with hundreds of fans also sending their best wishes.
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