'Iron Man' forges role for Paltrow

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Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow has joined the cast of "Iron Man," the first feature film to be produced independently by Marvel Entertainment. Jon Favreau is directing the movie, which will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Paltrow joins Robert Downey Jr. — who plays armor-clad superhero Iron Man and his alter ego, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark — and Terrence Howard, who will play Stark's best friend Rhodey.

Paltrow will play Stark's personal assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts, one of the few people in Stark's life who can go toe-to-toe with him and who occasionally serves as his conscience. The pair also share a secret attraction to each other.

"We've been casting for a long time, and we really took our time in finding the perfect person," Marvel president of production Kevin Feige said. "We've talked to our prototype for Pepper, and we kept mentioning 'someone like Gwyneth Paltrow,' and it was relatively recently that it came to our attention that maybe we should go to Gwyneth. Her representatives let us know that she wanted to do a movie like this; a few phone calls later from all parties involved, and over the weekend it happened.

"It happens rarely in this business where you get exactly who you wanted and where it happens very quickly," Feige said. "We have a lot of actors and filmmakers who are very happy, myself right among them."

Production is scheduled to begin in March in Los Angeles.

The movie will be produced by Avi Arad and Feige. Executive producing are Ari Arad, Peter Billingsley, Louis D'Esposito, Favreau and Michael Helfant.

Paltrow, who won an Oscar for her work in "Shakespeare in Love," most recently appeared in "Running With Scissors." Her credits include "Infamous" and "Proof." She is repped by CAA and Brillstein-Grey.
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