If you are watching Apple TV+’s WeCrashed, you might assume you are going to get the true-life story of the rise and fall of the co-working space startup, WeWork. But that’s not all you’re in for: there’s also an A-list celebrity who plays into some of the early episodes in ways viewers never imagined. Yep, Gwyneth Paltrow is a subplot in Rebekah Neumann’s life.
Rebekah is the wife of WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, and also Paltrow’s first cousin (their dads were brothers). You won’t find the Goop founder portrayed onscreen, but her name is mentioned quite a bit because — certain scenes in the series suggest — her Hollywood achievements may have impacted Rebekah psychologically. What makes their connection even more fascinating is that they both had an interest in similar industries as they made their way in the world.
Rebekah, who once went by Rebekah Paltrow, initially gave an acting career a try, but it didn’t work out for her as it did for Paltrow. A 2021 Vanity Fair article on Neumann says that “her famous cousin loomed large in her mind” and reports that she “debated about whether to continue using her birth name in the industry and met in WeWork’s office with consultants to advise her about the issue,” as well as setting up “a Google alert for news about Paltrow.”
Without including Paltrow herself in the series, WeCrashed wanted to explore how having Gwyneth Paltrow as a close family member might have played into Rebekah Neumann’s story.
Showrunner and co-creator of WeCrashed Lee Eisenberg explained to Entertainment Tonight how they wanted the Iron Man star’s presence without actually having her in front of the camera. “There was no interest in casting someone for Gwyneth Paltrow and playing that up in any way,” he said, adding that the actress’ background presence “reflects on Rebekah and how it informs the character.”
Showrunner and co-creator Drew Crevello added that they were interested in how Paltrow’s “megastar and mega-talent” might have cast a shadow over Neumann: “it’s very difficult to look at Rebekah and not sort of wonder what does that do to someone, especially someone who at one point wanted to be an actor to have a megastar and mega-talent be sort of just five feet away.”
The cousins eventually teamed up to promote Rebekah’s private school called WeGrow, which was designed as a disruptor to the education system. While the school is now in limbo after the Neumanns’ ouster from WeWork, Rebekah hopes to revive it as Students Of Life For Life, or SOLFL, which is pronounced as “soulful.” It fits right into Paltrow’s Goop brand, but it does leave a lot of questions on the table: Are the cousins still close? Would Paltrow promote Rebekah’s brand again? It’s a fascinating look at familial relationships, money, and how the call to stardom impacts everyone around them — even without ever entering the room.
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