Just a year ago, Paula Patton never would have slipped into a barely there outfit to straddle a pommel horse in front of a camera. The occasional innocent bra shot? Sure. But steamy sexual provocation, complete with come-hither eyes and generous amounts of skin? Not a chance. Believe it or not, she was just too shy. From the outside looking in, Patton’s insecurities seem ridiculous. For one thing, she’s drop-dead gorgeous. She’s also a respected actress who’s graced romantic comedies (Just Wright, Jumping The Broom) and critical darlings (Déjà Vu, Precious) alike. Off screen, she and husband Robin Thicke—the Grammy Award–winning singer and songwriter—keep on giving lovesick fools hope by maintaining one of Hollywood’s most functional celebrity marriages.
(Their first child, Julian Fuego, was born April 2010.) Her unforgettable performance in Thicke’s steamy “Lost Without You” video shows she’s not exactly as shy as she claims to be. Still, the Los Angeles native was never comfortable disrobing for anyone else’s visual pleasure. But she’s never had a lead role in a blockbuster like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol either. Sharing screen time with Tom Cruise in the fourth installment of the mega-successful spy franchise, Patton has found her confidence skyrocketing. She’s packing heat and beating down bad guys. It’s the kind of role that very few actresses get to tackle, and Patton knows it. No wonder she’s feeling better than ever about herself. And when she feels good, we feel good, too.
How big of a factor is your husband in this new confidence?
He is my greatest supporter. He’s never stopped me from doing a single thing; he only encourages me to go for it. He tells me to do things before I even think I’m ready myself.
The two of you have been together for half of your life. For a couple in the public eye, that’s unheard of. How does it continue to work amidst all the stress of fame?
There’s no recipe. There’s no other way to say it—it’s true desire. We’re crazy enough that we just keep wanting to be together. We just don’t not want to be with each other. [Laughs.] It doesn’t mean that we don’t have our ups and downs. We just don’t want to be with anyone else. That’s how we keep it together: desire.
You two seem more comfortable than most celebrity couples discussing your relationship publically. His very sexy “Lost Without You” video felt like a sneak peek into your bedroom.
[Laughs.] I guess it’s because we were in love way before either of us encountered any of this celebrity stuff. We knew each other and loved each other way before any of this. There’s never been a sense of, OK, we shouldn’t talk about it to the press, because we’re in each other’s lives. I don’t know how to keep that a secret.
In one interview, he called you his “sex therapist.” Does it ever make you uncomfortable to read things like that in print?
I hope he’d say that! [Laughs.] Who else would I want it to be? Your wife should be your sex therapist, or if you’re not married, your girlfriend should be your sex therapist. If she’s not, then things aren’t going so well.