While most folks dread their birthdays, especially in youth-obsessed Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow is actually looking forward to blowing out the candles on her cake come September 28 — and this year, she'll be facing quite a bonfire. "I cannot believe that I'm turning 30," exclaims the big-screen scene stealer, coming off as incredulous as a teenager who has just gotten away with using a fake I.D. "It sounds so grown-up."

At the same time, hitting the three-decade mark also feels quite right to the Shakespeare in Love Oscar winner. "My 20s have been action-packed," says the tabloid favorite, whose little black book reads like a Who's Who of A-list actors. "I think I've lived more in my 20s than most people live in a lifetime, and in a way, I'm sad to let go of it. In [another] way, I'm relieved to sort of enter into the next phase and see how my life is as a woman."

Unlike so many of her botox-injected, silicone-implanted Tinseltown contemporaries, the star of the time-warping romance Possession (opening tomorrow) isn't worried in the least that her job prospects will dry up along with her complexion. But then, the daughter of Blythe Danner (star of CBS's fall hospital drama Presidio Med) knows she comes from good genes.

"When I went to see [Danner on stage] in Follies, she came out in one scene wearing this pink dress with high slits in it," she recalls. "I was thinking, 'She is gorgeous! If I age like that, then I'm in good shape.'"