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Shallow Hal star was “really scared” by fatphobic reaction to movie

The actress who played Gwyneth Paltrow's body double in comedy movie Shallow Hal has recently talked about the experience of making the film, and the aftermath.

Shallow Hal

The late 90s and 2000s were a very different time in the media landscape and in its treatment of famous women in particular. The likes of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Megan Fox were vilified in the press. There was also enormous pressure to be thin, which wasn’t helped by the likes of America’s Next Top Model and other reality TV shows. It’s in this context that a Farrelly Brothers ‘comedy movie‘ starring Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow was released called Shallow Hal.

In the movie, Gwyneth Paltrow wears a ‘fat suit’ to portray a 300-pound woman who Jack Black falls in love with. He only does this because he’s been hypnotized to only see inner beauty. For close-up shots of Paltrow’s character’s body, a body-double was used – 20-year-old Ivy Snitzer, who was an aspiring actress and comedienne.

Over 20 years later, Snitzer has given an interview to The Guardian talking about her experience making the movie, and the aftermath. She was initially excited and flattered to be asked to be involved; “It was so exciting. It was just fun to be part of a movie – there are so few people who actually get to do that.”

Snitzer says she was naive about the reaction to the movie because; “it didn’t occur to me that the film would be seen by millions of people. It was like the worst parts about being fat were magnified. And no one was telling me I was funny.” Snitzer did some promotion for the movie, but this opened her up to people contacting her in strange ways; “I got really scared. I was like: maybe I’m done with the concept of fame, maybe I don’t want to be an actor. Maybe I’ll do something else.”

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Shallow Hal seems like the kind of movie that couldn’t possibly be made today, but we recently had Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, which had a similar storyline. Just last year, Brendan Fraser won the Best Actor Oscar for The Whale, a role in which he wore a ‘fat suit.’ Hollywood still has a long way to go in terms of portraying a wide variety of ages, abilities, and body types positively – especially when it comes to women.

Check out our guide to the best drama movies, and the best actors of all time. You can also see if you agree with our lists of the best movies of all time and the best directors of all time.