Gwyneth Paltrow had a long tenure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dating back to the very first movie: 2008's Iron Man. The Oscar winning actress has played Pepper Potts with ferocity and vulnerability in the decade and change since, always willing to appear for a quick cameo or set of scenes. But Paltrow isn't super invested in the overarching story of the shared universe, and can often forget that actors and characters. In fact, she even forgot that Samuel L. Jackson has been playing Nick Fury for just as long she's been Pepper.
Sam Jackson's Nick Fury was the connective tissue of Phase One, helping to assemble Earth's Mightiest Heroes as various origin stories were revealed. And despite both having roles in movies like The Avengers, Gwyneth Paltrow didn't realize that Jackson was part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As studio head Kevin Feige recently revealed when speaking about Tony Stark's Endgame funeral:
Gwyneth Paltrow [was] asking why Sam Jackson was there, and the other actors [were] jumping in saying, ‘What are you talking about? He's Nick Fury! You've been in movies with him.' But it was really something special.
Gwyneth Paltrow may consistently bring a strong performance to her version of Pepper Potts, but she doesn't bother to keep up with the larger MCU. Instead, her focus is solely on Pepper's journey, and bringing life to her scenes with Tony Stark. She likely doesn't sit and watch MCU blockbusters, even the ones she's in. As such, Samuel L. Jackson's role in the MCU was a surprise to her while filming Tony's lakeside funeral.
Kevin Feige's comments to Empire are sure to surprise Marvel fans, given what a long tenure Sam Jackson's Nick Fury had had in the shared universe. At the time of writing, Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in a whopping ten Marvel blockbusters over the last decade and change, with roles that varied in size. He's one of the most recurring characters in the entire shared universe, so its shocking that Gwyneth Paltrow didn't realize Jackson's involvement.
Just how little Gwyneth Paltrow is keeping up with the MCU has become obvious in the past few years, especially since she stepped down into more of a tertiary presence onscreen. For instance, she was recently shocked to hear that she filmed a role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Granted it was a brief cameo, but she truly didn't realize she was in that blockbuster.
Additionally, Gwyneth Paltrow has had a penchant for forgetting Marvel actors throughout the years. Tom Holland shared a story when she did just that to the Spider-Man star. Additionally, she's met Sebastian Stan a.k.a. The Winter Soldier multiple times, seemingly failing to remember him every time.