Gwyneth Paltrow Looks Back on the Terrifying Night She Sang at the Oscars

Ramin Setoodeh

When Bradley Cooper belts out “Shallow” on Sunday night with Lady Gaga, he won’t be the first actor to perform a song from his movie at the Academy Awards. In 2011, Gwyneth Paltrow sang the ballad “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” in front of 38 million viewers.

That awards season, Paltrow crooned at the Country Music Awards and the Grammys, but it was the Oscars that scared her the most. “Oh my God, it was the most terrifying moment of my life,” Paltrow tells Variety. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel my hands.”

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The other live performances didn’t prepare her for the Oscars, where Jennifer Hudson introduced her as “country music’s newest star.” In “Country Strong,” she played a Nashville singer battling with the perils of fame.

“The Grammys was so silly, and I was with CeeLo and there were Muppets for some reason,” Paltrow says. “It didn’t strike me until after it was done like what I was actually doing. I remember at the time, my baby daddy” — her ex-husband, Chris Martin — “was like, ‘This is crazy, because most people have their first concert like at a pub with their uncle watching and a friend from college.’”

She continued, “He’s like, ‘Your first gig was playing at the Country Music Awards. This is insane.’ But the Oscars was way worse. I have never felt like that in my entire life. I was like, ‘I’m not going to be able to walk.’ I was hyperventilating and I thought I can’t walk to my mark. That’s how much my body was giving up.”

Paltrow’s other big Oscars moment — wining best actress for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999 — is also a blur. “I don’t remember a thing,” she says. “I don’t remember walking up the stairs. I don’t remember saying anything.”

Where does she keep her Oscar? It’s in her library. “I have a house in Long Island and it’s there,” she says.

Paltrow spoke to Variety for this week’s Oscars issue about the 20th anniversary of “Shakespeare in Love.” For more from our interview, click here.

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