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Actress Paltrow learns of 9/11 "Sliding Doors" moment

Sep 5, 2011, 8:12 a.m.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, cast member of the movie "Contagion", reacts on the red carpet at Cinema Palace during the 68th Venice Film Festival September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - Gwyneth Paltrow has received a letter from a woman who believes the actress may have inadvertently saved her life on the day of the attacks on New York nearly 10 years ago.

As the United States prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Paltrow told Reuters she was more closely involved in the events than she had known at the time.

"Basically, what happened was I had gone to a yoga class very early," the Hollywood star said in an interview in Venice to discuss her latest movie "Contagion."

The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, also features Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and Kate Winslet, and tells the story of a deadly disease that quickly spreads around the world causing panic.

Particularly in its examination of how governments react to a crisis, some of its themes echo the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers.

"I was on the way home and it was the morning of September 11 -- not that I knew at the time what that meant -- and a girl was jaywalking across the street and we kind of both stopped at the same time and waited a really long time," said Paltrow.

She said she and the woman did "this stop-start thing" for a time and began to laugh before the woman finally went on her way.

"Ten years later I got a letter from her saying that she had been late for work and we had that thing and she went down to the Christopher Street station to catch her train to go down to the World Trade Center where she worked on the 77th floor of the South Tower and the train was just pulling out.

"So had we not had that interaction she feels like her life would've taken a much different course. She called it her 'Sliding Doors moment'," Paltrow added, referring to one of her movies in which the plot follows different paths based on whether or not she catches a subway train.

"It was an extraordinary story and all I could think about is all of the people who had experiences like that that day, but aren't able to reach out because it wasn't a recognizable person," said the 38-year-old Oscar winner.

"She saw it was me so she was able to get me a message, but I think a lot of fates were changed that day obviously and I am very humbly happy to be a part in her story."

Contagion, which is not in the main competition at the Venice film festival, opens in theatres on September 9 and has been well received in early reviews.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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