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Zeta, Julia and a question of billing

Nov 6 2004

Hannah Jones, Western Mail

 

WALES' most famous export has unwittingly outshone one of the most powerful actresses in America - by getting a bigger billing in her latest film.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, soon to be seen in the film Ocean's Twelve, has unexpectedly received a better placing on adverts than Julia Roberts.

Although a relative newcomer to Hollywood compared to Roberts, who was once consistently the highest paid US actress, Zeta-Jones seems to be outstripping her.

She has been given fourth billing on film posters in the US after George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

The billing for the Swansea- born actress, who won an Oscar last year for her supporting role in Chicago, has, according to US reports, upset the Pretty Woman star because of the advertising blip.

Roberts, who is expecting twins, has been around long enough to know her value to a film. So she was said to be less than delighted when she learned the Welsh star was given a higher billing in ads for the sure-fire hit.

To make matters worse Zeta-Jones, who plays Pitt's love interest Isabel Lahiri, wasn't in the earlier film in the series, Ocean's Eleven.

Roberts, who reprises her role as Tess Ocean in the sequel, has to wait until after the supporting cast of Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac to see her name propping up the rest.

Although the cast got on well during filming, rumours circulating from Hollywood claim there could be fireworks before the premiere unless Roberts, another Oscar-winner, gets a hike up the pecking order.

It's not the first time Roberts has played second fiddle to the Welsh beauty.

In 2001's America's Sweethearts, Roberts played her assistant in the film.

Whispers that they didn't get along during the filming have since been denied by Roberts who said, "I honestly didn't have a problem with Catherine.

"She's extremely professional and I enjoyed working with her.

"She's a lovely person and we got along really well.

"She's a genius."

Zeta-Jones concurred saying, "I can't for the life of me understand why the media finds it titillating to have a feud going on between two women.

"I mean, if it was Robert De Niro and Al Pacino working together, everyone would say 'Wow, what a wonderful pairing.'

"They wouldn't sit there and even think of drumming up some feud or nonsense like that."

Nevertheless, the unexpected placement is likely to please Zeta-Jones' husband, Michael Douglas.

He reportedly told his wife to sack her former William Morris agent George Freeman because other actresses were being offered better roles.

IMDb.com, the definitive guide to film, reported an industry source as saying, "Julia's not happy.

"She was in the original Ocean's film - Catherine wasn't - and she assumed her name would be first.

"It might sound petty, but being top means a lot in Hollywood.

"It means you are the biggest star. Julia and Catherine get on well on a personal level but this is business."

Welsh director Justin Kerrigan, the director of the 1999 "rave" film Human Traffic, said billing was a matter of debate between an actor's agent and a production company.

He added, "But I'm not surprised that Catherine has got a higher billing than Julia. She's a far bigger crowd puller these days. Ten years ago it would have been the other way around.

"But now everyone wants to see Catherine."

Ocean's Twelve will be released in the UK on February 4.

 
 

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