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Sat, December 11, 2004

Intolerable cruelty
Zeta-Jones waiting to get punk'd by George

PALM SPRINGS -- Catherine Zeta-Jones is a little more guarded than usual right now. She's been checking over her shoulder a lot these days -- and not to sleuth out there whereabouts of the paparazzi who seem to be her constant and unwanted companions.

Rather, Zeta-Jones is on the look out for George Clooney -- her co-star in Ocean's Twelve and the man she worked with earlier on Intolerable Cruelty.

"I'm waiting for George to play one of his infamous pranks on me. He did nothing when we worked together on Intolerable Cruelty and I was one of the few people in the Ocean's Twelve cast he didn't play a prank on," says Zeta-Jones.

At first she was relieved -- but then she was sad.

"I thought maybe none of the guys liked me because they didn't play tricks on me -- especially George. They were always doing something to each other."

Then someone confided in Zeta-Jones that she would have to "look over my shoulders for three years. It sometimes takes that long, and I've only known George for two years."

Zeta-Jones is convinced Clooney is plotting something special for her, because she took him up on an offer he expected her to refuse.

"George was always inviting the cast members (of Ocean's Twelve) to come to his Italian villa (in Lake Como) for a holiday.

"He just figures no one will turn up but I did with Michael (Douglas) and the kids. We could see he was genuinely surprised, but he's a great host."

It was Clooney who suggested that Zeta-Jones play Brad Pitt's love interest in Ocean's Twelve.

"I didn't even ask what the part was. I just asked when they wanted me to show up."

Her character Isabel Lahiri is a Europol agent who is trying to stay one step ahead of Ocean and his crew.

"I loved that Europol agents wear red leather to work. I didn't discover that in any of the research I did. Then I met the guys and it all fell into place."

Zeta-Jones' first meeting with the cast of Ocean's Twelve was in Chicago for a line read-through and costume fittings.

"I knew I was the new kid on the block so I was definitely intimidated. Then again, I'm intimidated every day I go on a stage or turn up at a movie set. I only start having fun when I'm convinced I'm not going to be fired.

"In that way, it was no different on Ocean's Twelve. What I learned within minutes was that, with George and his gang, I had to leave my prissy girliness at the door each day. You have to be one of the guys or you won't survive."

Pitt jokes that Zeta-Jones "thought Ocean's Twelve was a regular kind of movie. While we were out goofing around and partying, she was learning lines and working on character study. We had to break her of that habit quickly."

Though she has been called a classic Hollywood beauty, Zeta-Jones insists she is as insecure as the next person.

"I'm humbled by the accolades I've received but I'm just a regular woman. I'm forever checking to see if my butt looks fat in a dress I wear or a costume they give me."

She says the one thing she hopes to be able to accomplish is "to grow old gracefully. That's extremely important to me."

Zeta-Jones is filming Legend of Zorro the sequel to 1998's The Mask of Zorro, the film that turned her into an international star and caused Michael Douglas to woo her.

She is also in negotiations to star opposite Alan Cumming in Joel Zwick's Coming Out.

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