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Beyoncé, Faith Hill helped Paltrow through 'Country Strong'

Famous as she may be, taking on the role of a country music superstar was more than a little daunting for Gwyneth Paltrow.

LOS ANGELES — Famous as she may be, taking on the role of a country music superstar was more than a little daunting for Gwyneth Paltrow. But it wasn’t the singing that had her worried — Paltrow has previously belted out a few tunes onscreen, after all.

“I was nervous about playing somebody that was such a huge star, which is different from playing someone who, you know, has a guitar and sings or is trying to make it,” she says. “My singing teacher in London worked me really hard. She was like, ‘There’s a big voice in there. We’re going to get it out.’ And I was scared of my own kind of voice.”

Luckily, she had some friends with a little experience in the area. Paltrow turned to Beyoncé Knowles and Faith Hill for advice and guidance. “They were both so supportive of me. They were so generous of spirit,” she says. “Beyoncé was in London, and she helped me so much before I went. I obsessively watched Beyoncé perform. I just wanted to get a little bit of that incredible self-belief and abandon that she has on stage.”

On set, Paltrow found support in Hill, whose husband, Tim McGraw, co-stars in the film. “When I got to Nashville, Faith helped me so much,” she says. “Faith said to me, ‘30 days before you do, just start singing it. Sing it every day so you know the vocal part, it’s just in your muscle memory.' I just did everything she said, and she got me through it.”

As much as she looked to her diva pals, Paltrow did have a music superstar at home to turn to, but she says husband — and Coldplay frontman — Chris Martin wasn’t as much help as the ladies.

“I mean, he was great,” she says. “But to be totally honest, I kind of picked the brains of my girl singer friends more, because I think it’s a very different thing — to be a male in a band as opposed to a lead. You’re just there by yourself.”

If Paltrow had any doubts about pulling off playing fresh-out-of-rehab singer Kelly Canter, they were nothing compared to those of the studio. At least that’s what Screen Gems head Clint Culpepper told her.

“When the script came to him I was already attached, and he’s like, ‘You all are crazy. She is so wrong for this part,’” Paltrow remembers, adding that Culpepper later changed his tune. “But yeah, I think when you think of country superstar, drug-drink addict, you maybe don’t think of me immediately, but it’s in there. She’s in there,” Paltrow says. “I think the image that I had for a long time was extremely exaggerated.”

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