Sadder Gwyneth Gets Back to Work

10/13/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

After a pronounced silence following the death of her father last year, Gwyneth Paltrow has stepped forward to reflect on her past decade in the spotlight.

"I spent my 20s just working back to back to back. I don't even know how many films I did: I think, close to 30 in 10 years," the "Shakespeare in Love" Oscar winner, 31, tells Reuters. "Then I took a year off when I was 29, and I sort of lost the joy. I lost the thread of why I was doing it."

Tracked by the tabloids when she was dating Brad Pitt and then Ben Affleck, Paltrow, who's now involved with Coldplay singer Chris Martin, said: "I think also the whole celebrity part of it really just put a bad taste in my mouth, all the time."

And after pulling out of some film projects after her father's death, Paltrow is returning to the screen in the literary drama "Sylvia," about the iconic, tragic poet Sylvia Plath, who killed herself in 1963.

"I think that the experience of playing her really changed me," Paltrow said. "It was so difficult and so harrowing, but I got so much back from it, that I thought: I really don't want to waste my time doing things that are mediocre."

The actress, described by the news service as elegant and graceful, credits the death of her father, Bruce Paltrow, from cancer as providing her with the gravity to play Plath.

"I think when you're suffering to the degree I was suffering during the film, and you're playing somebody who is also suffering, the overlap was quite extensive," she says.

His passing also permitted her to refocus her career. After critics took zestful aim at two comedy bombs she starred in, "Shallow Hal" and "View from the Top," she says, "I thought, from now on I want to do things that are worth my time."

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