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My passion for Zorro - Zeta

Oct 23 2005

Rachel Mainwaring, Wales on Sunday


ZORRO changed Catherine Zeta Jones' life forever. Not only did the film propel her to stardom, her on-screen presence seduced Michael Douglas. Nearly a decade later, the Swansea beauty is back in the long-awaited sequel The Legend of Zorro, released on Friday. In an exclusive interview, she tells RACHEL MAINWARING about her latest Hollywood role, her determination to keep her British passport and she offers some advice to Charlotte Church if she wants to make it in the movies...

SWANSEA starlet Catherine Zeta Jones may have made her name in America, but she has revealed she will never give up her British passport to become a US citizen.

The actress left Wales to pursue her Hollywood dream 10 years ago but while she owes her success to the States, she has vowed to stay forever true to her Welsh roots.

Looking every inch the LA glamour puss at the Four Seasons hotel in her elegant Narciso Rodriguez black dress and diamond choker, the raven-haired 36-year-old said: "I cannot vote because I am not an American, I am still a British citizen. I'd have to give up my passport so I cannot vote.

"I am married to an American and I have two children who are American.

"I think three Americans in my household is more than enough, thank you very much!"

Catherine, who now lives in a secluded luxury home in Bermuda, away from the prying eyes of the public and paparazzi, admits she's finding it hard to analyse how her life has turned out.

In fact, The Legend of Zorro, in which she is reunited with co-star Antonio Banderas, reminds her of the first Zorro film, when she was relatively unknown.

"Personally and professionally, the last film is my big movie that got me internationally recognised and my husband saw me in that movie, married me and now we have two kids," she said.

"Michael saw me in the first one and seduced me. He hounded me and followed me around the world until he found me. I can't believe it's nine years since we did the first one."

Back then, Catherine, famous for her role in Brit TV hit The Darling Buds of May, could travel all over the world without hesitation.

But life as a mum to Dylan, five, and Carys, two, has changed the logistics of her life and she admits being a working mother is hard.

But having Fatal Attrac-tion star Michael, who can also pick and choose his roles to suit the family, makes it much easier.

She said: "It was difficult filming in Mexico because of the night-shoots. I could not keep the children quiet.

"I tried but they were trampolining, then my dog was trampol-ining and I said, 'OK guys, I need to sleep'. So I rented a house and we used to come back and forth at weekends. There were a lot of air miles.

"With Zorro, it was important to me to make sure we made a movie which had the excitement, the fun, the charm and that it could be for the kids as well as the adults.

"It is hard to find all those elements in one script.

"My son Dylan has got his Zorro outfit. He's got a hundred swords.

"He had a very deep conversation with Antonio when he was on set. I have a great photograph of Dylan looking at him with his hands on his hips and Antonio is looking down with his sword having a really hard conversation with my son."

And, inevitably, it seems both Dylan and Carys have inherited some of the Douglas and Zeta Jones acting genes.

Catherine laughed: "They were absolutely actors from the moment they popped out, both of them! Drama!

"Everything is drama in our house but beautifully done, I must say. This morning, I was admiring my daughter's directing abilities, that's how bossy she was being!

"And Dylan is just unbelievable. And they have both got the Douglas dimple! Seriously, if they both wanted to be actors I would support them wholeheartedly.

"Acting has been great to me. Michael might have a different swipe on it, because he had to live up to being the son of Kirk but it was a different dynamic for me.

"Nobody knew me, nobody cared. That was what I wanted to do."

Catherine, who has always been close to her family, mum Pat, dad Dai and brothers Lyndon and David, said she knew she always had her family to fall back on if her acting dreams didn't materialise.

"When I first came to the States, a lot of drive and ambition came from the fact that I could always go back to my family if it didn't turn out right. It's great to know I can just go home and be Catherine and they wouldn't say, 'Why did you fail so miserably? It is just going to be fine'. For me, I always need a security blanket. I still do."

And it's her close relationship with her family that constantly brings them back to her Welsh homeland.

"I was there with my kids in August and when I was there I saw a girl who I had not seen for 21 years! And I was 36 last month!

"And this woman looks exactly the same as she had been then. She has two little kids and when I saw her I said, 'Don't tell me you are Helen Davies?'. I couldn't believe it, it was so great. My kids and her kids got together. I have a lot of good friends, not just from school but from my dancing days too."

But while she is proud of her Welsh blood, Catherine said there is no place for Welsh accents in Hollywood.

So if Charlotte Church, a fellow patron of the Children's Hospital for Wales' Noah's Ark Appeal, is hoping to branch into films one day soon, she has one important bit of advice.

She said: "I know Charlotte well.

"She's fabulous, and really does have the voice of an angel. She's really pretty amazing.

"If she wants to make it in the movies, she's going to have to disguise her accent, because there's not many movies for Welsh girls.

"That was one of my biggest problems when I first started. So that's my advice for Charlotte - darling, you'll have to lose the accent!"


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