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The woman who has it all

Oct 16 2003

By Robin Walker, Daily Post


She has a life most women can only dream of, but Catherine Zeta Jones, whose latest film Intolerable Cruelty is out next week, puts her success down to one thing... hard work.

SHE may be one of Wales' most glamorous - and richest - exports, living a jet-set lifestyle and bagging some of the best film roles going. But actress Catherine Zeta Jones is surprisingly down to earth when it comes to sharing tips for lasting marital bliss. "Take one day at a time. And be kind. Just keep a clear head and be nice to each other," is the advice of the 34-year-old Swansea-born star who married Hollywood actor and producer Michael Douglas in November, 2000.

And when it comes to singing the praises of her children, Dylan, three, and six-month-old baby Carys, Catherine is just like any other devoted mother.

"I'm having a great time with my children," she says. "I have a little boy telling me I have the prettiest eyes he has ever seen - it makes me feel very special. And I have a little lady-in-waiting who is going to drive her dad mad in 15 years time."

She has previously admitted that becoming a mother for the second time was entirely different to when she had Dylan, saying she was more scared because she knew how painful giving birth would be.

Catherine was pregnant with Carys during the end of filming her latest movie, Intolerable Cruelty, produced and directed by art house favourites Joel and Ethan Coen, who also made O Brother, Fargo and Where Art Thou?

She plays calculating Hollywood gold-digger Marylin Rexroth, who seeks financial security through serial matrimony in this glitzy, black comedy.

"But divorce happens all over the world, not just in Hollywood," she says. "I know people who've divorced a lot and have really nice houses out of it and they're from all walks of life."

Despite a potential raft of people to choose from in la la land she denies basing hard-hearted Marylin on anyone in particular. "Even if I did I wouldn't give their names," she says discreetly.

In Intolerable Cruelty, the actress, who has worked professionally since the tender age of 11 and made her name in the Darling Buds of May before hitting the celluloid big time in The Mask of Zorro, fulfilled an ambition most women can only fantasise about - starring opposite heart-throb George Clooney.

Clooney plays a jaded Los Angeles divorce lawyer who falls for the serial gold-digging ex-wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) of one of his clients in this tongue-in-cheek look at greed and infidelity, Beverly Hills style.

"You take a piece of material like this, then you get Joel and Ethan in that equation, then George," says Catherine. "That whole equation was really exciting to me."

What's more, working with the suave George Clooney, who set a million female hearts a flutter as ER's sexy Dr Ross and has continued to do so ever since, was a lot of fun and the pair hit it off from the start.

"I think the first scene we did was the one in the restaurant and it was like: 'Hi, nice to meet you'," she says. "It was just a very easy working experience."

The comedy follows on the heels of her Oscarwinning performance as the bold and brassy Velma in Chicago and her cool-headed, druglord's wife in the acclaimed Traffic.

Intolerable Cruelty was her chance to put her acting skills to good use, trying something entirely different, she admits.

"There's only so many ball breakers and murderesses I can play," says Catherine. "It's about trying to mix it up.

"When I was offered Traffic, it was amazing because it wasn't the sort of role you'd think would be given to me."

Because Intolerable Cruelty takes a long look at cheating partners, Catherine hopes it may make people think about their own relationships. "I hope people just enjoy it, then

go home and take a look at their marriage," she says simply.

Judging by recent comments she doesn't feel the need to put her own marriage under scrutiny as she has recently said that when it comes to juggling her family life and work, there is no contest.

"How could I possibly juggle my children and my husband, the love of my life? If something would have to go, it's certainly not my husband or kids. The obvious choice would be goodbye career," she recently told one magazine. "Work is a big part, but not the only part of my life."

Despite that sentiment Catherine already has her next career move planned. Next up, she's doing a Steven Spielberg project with Tom Hanks called Terminal, in which she plays a flight attendant. Hanks is also linked to the Coen brothers' next project, a reworking of the Peter Sellers/Alec Guinness classic The Ladykillers.

And there's never a dull moment in the Mumbles actress' schedule as Catherine also has her own production company, with three projects on the go.

"I'm always proactive as there's so little material out there," she says, offering an insight into her forward career planning. "You have to go and instigate it yourself. I have something for when I'm 40, 50 and so on."

She is also unconcerned by competition from younger actresses, confessing to wanting to play the now classic older woman role of Mrs Robinson in The Graduate.

Unlike husband Michael, whose father Kirk played mammoth film parts like Spartacus, Catherine does not hail from a showbiz family. Nonetheless, she would be happy to see her children follow in their parents' footsteps onto the big screen. "I wouldn't mind at all," she says. "Our careers have been good to us - they've provided us with a great life."

To say Catherine Zeta Jones has it all is something of an understatement. But although she admits that she's surprised at being so successful, she stresses that she worked extremely hard for it, adhering to the Welsh work ethic of the more you do the more you will receive.

"I'm lucky, but it seems the harder I work the luckier I get," she says honestly. "It was something that I so wanted to do that I've just been pursuing it all my life."


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