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CANNES, France (Reuters) - After starting a family, Gwyneth Paltrow recently returned to movies in the hit "Iron Man," but it is her new movie "Two Lovers" that fully returned her to the art form she loves, the actress said on Tuesday.
The film, which had its world premiere at the Cannes film festival Monday night, stars Paltrow as a mixed up young woman who wins the love of a complex man, played by Joaquin Phoenix.
Yet their attachment comes with emotional troubles.
Far from the perky assistant Pepper Potts in big budget Hollywood flick "Iron Man," Paltrow's role of Michelle in "Two Lovers" fuelled the 35-year-old's desire to return to acting.
"It gave to me kind of a lifeline," she told reporters at a festival news conference. "I feel like I was really able to be very free and raw and true.
"Going from being a mother at home for a long time, which is the greatest joy of my life, to feel like an artist again ... that was a gift."
Paltrow, the daughter of actress Blythe Danner and producer Bruce Paltrow, burst onto the Hollywood scene in the 1990s and was almost immediately catapulted into leading lady status.
Her role as Viola, who captures the fancy of a young William Shakespeare in 1998 romantic comedy "Shakespeare in Love," earned her the Oscar for best actress. Afterward, she became one of Hollywood's hottest young names.
In 2002, she married singer Chris Martin and the couple has two children. Also in 2002, her father died.
"Obviously I've had an incredibly blessed life and I'm very lucky. But I've also had some difficult things happen, and I think those things make you deeper and make you more wired up to your emotional life," she said.
Paltrow has worked fairly steadily in recent years, but many of her parts have been in supporting roles.
The difference now is that she is appearing in two movies almost simultaneously: major blockbuster "Iron Man" and low-budget "Two Lovers" from director James Gray.
Michelle is a complicated woman who longs to remain the free-spirit she once was yet her long affair with a married man has left her emotionally scarred.
When she moves into an apartment near a young man Leonard, who also suffered an ill-fated romance, the two strike up a friendship. But the pair quickly proves that love rarely comes without complications.
The actress admitted to concern over whether she would be accepted again in Hollywood, which is known for quickly turning its back on actresses who fade from the limelight.
"I really did not know if there would be a place for me any more," she said. "Hollywood is pretty cutthroat, and everybody's got a short memory and there's always somebody younger or hotter or prettier, or whatever."
Paltrow added, however, that she hoped the right roles would come her way and she felt: "I had something to say again."
So far what she is saying has resonated with some Cannes critics. "Paltrow positively glows," said show business paper "The Hollywood Reporter" in its review.