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Valley girl Catherine feels at home at the sharp end of acting

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Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas in the film Legend Of Zorro

"He really allows the humour to come through amidst all the action, especially in the use of the Zorro theme," she says.

"It makes the movie so much fun. Also, there is no heavy violence in the movie - it relies on the beautiful artistry of swordplay. The fights are amazing, wonderfully paced and stylised."

Not only did the actress have some extremely demanding fight scenes to contend with, she also had to battle against severe weather fluctuations -in particular during a crucial dance sequence which included 500 extras.

"Every time we were ready to roll the cameras, thunder and lightning would start in the distance. Within seconds there would be a torrential downpour. All the flowers would be damp and limp. The candles would go out. They'd be hurrying to drag in the fireworks so they didn't get wet.

"When you see the scene in the finished movie, you'll find it incredible that all that actually happened, because it looks so effortless. But let me tell you..."

Making hard work look effortless is something Catherine knows a lot about. It's a long way from the Welsh valleys to the peaks of Hollywood stardom, but the patriotic actress has taken the shift in her stride.

Despite eyebrows being raised at her marriage to Michael Douglas - a Hollywood stalwart some 25 years her senior, the couple appear rock solid. They have two children - Dylan, five, and two-year-old Carys, and spend as much time as they can near Catherine's family in Wales to avoid the Hollywood hubbub.

"In Wales it's brilliant," she says.. "I go to the pub and see everybody who I went to school with. And everybody goes, 'So, what are you doing now?', and I go, 'Oh, I'm doing a film with Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins'. And they go, 'Ooh, good'. And that's it."

* The Legend Of Zorro opens on Friday October 28.


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