It's the story of Sylvia Plath, the American writer whose stormy marriage to British poet Ted Hughes ended in her suicide. It's been called the most tragic literary love story of the past century. But, it is not a movie you would expect a grief-stricken actress to be drawn to.
"Actually, it turned out to be the right thing to do at the time because as I was suffering so much in my personal life and [Plath] was suffering so much," Paltrow explains. "There was an incredible overlap of feeling and I think I had access to her in ways that I wouldn't have had."
The romance wasn't all suffering, at least not in the early stages when Plath, as an American Fulbright scholar in 1950s Britain, met Hughes. But the suffering — real or imagined — and death is what Plath is all about in the end.
Paltrow says Plath's suffering helped her understand the emotional pain she was experiencing after losing her father, television creator Bruce Paltrow.
The actress had signed onto the film before her father died and decided to honor her obligation. She had some family help in the making of the movie. Her mother, Blythe Danner, plays her mother.
"It was so nice being with her and having her around it was just very comforting," Paltrow says.
But the movie may not be comforting for fans of Plath. Her account of her life in her best-seller, "The Bell Jar," and her suicide at just 30 years old, blamed by many on the philandering of her husband, led to her becoming a poster woman for feminism. But anyone looking for a good girls-bad guys approach in "Sylvia" will be disappointed.
"[In the movie], no one is vilified, no one is held up as the monster and the victim because that's not how it works in life," Paltrow says. "I don't think she is blameless in the scenario."
Sylvia may or may not turn out to have broad commercial appeal, but being back in cinematic focus inevitably puts Paltrow back in gossip column, too.
"I really made an effort to go underground and not to go to any events and really kind of drop out," she says. "But, unfortunately, our culture is totally celebrity obsessed, which is too bad because it is such a waste of time."
Paltrow, who has had well documented relationships in the past, seems to be in the middle of another one. She is reportedly linked with Coldplay's front man Chris Martin. But, she won't let her love life read like an open book.