While watching her mother, Blythe Danner, perform at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, 2-year-old Paltrow is thrust onstage and surprises everyone by reciting her mother's lines. "She could barely talk," Danner later tells Time, "yet she knew the whole speech better than I did. We should have known then, I guess."
Without much experience, 18-year-old Paltrow appears alongside her mother in Picnic at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Her father, television director Bruce Paltrow, is sufficiently impressed with his daughter's performance to encourage her to abandon university studies for acting. Previously, her parents said she should stay in school.
In her first television role, Paltrow appears in the NBC miniseries Cruel Doubt alongside her mother. Her more considerable acting background notwithstanding, Danner tells PEOPLE, "She got the part first, and I guess they thought I looked right as her mother.'' The following year, Paltrow takes a small part in the psychological drama Flesh and Bone, but her performance makes her a young actress to watch. The National Society of Film Critics nominates her for Best Supporting Actress for the role.