Monday October 24, 2005
CATHERINE Zeta-Jones apologises to the group of international journalists gathered around the table at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. She has a trace of a cough and a slightly hoarse voice.
The poised and elegant star is feeling a little under the weather but that does not prevent her from animatedly discussing Zorro 2, the long-awaited sequel to 1998’s The Mask of Zorro (MOZ), as well as the changes in her life after playing Elena – Zorro’s love interest and eventually wife – in the movies.
Peppering her sentences with “you know” the actress tells us that MOZ is a film that’s very dear to her. The role of Elena catapulted her into the international limelight and she met, and subsequently married, actor Michael Douglas while promoting the movie in France.
The couple tied the knot in November 2000 and are now parents to five-year-old Dylan Michael and three-year-old Carys Zeta.
Thus, it’s little wonder that Zeta-Jones, who turned 36 on Sept 25, has a strong sentimental attachment to her character.
“Playing Elena was like going back to an old friend. It was easy to play her the second time and doing the accent was much easier,” she says.
Catherine Zeta-Jones getting direction from director Martin Campbell for Zorro 2. On reprising her role as the fiery Elena, Zeta-Jones says: ‘Playing Elena was like going back to an old friend.’
In the sequel, the fiery Elena gets a couple of Zorro-like moments of her own when she battles it out with the bad guys. According to the star, the fight choreography was quite similar to dancing and as she is a trained dancer, mastering the steps was not a problem. However, what proved to be a challenge was sword-fighting in her lavish costumes.
“I had to do so much sword-fighting in the green one that at the end of it, I wanted to, like, burn it! They are so beautifully made but it takes 25 minutes to get into them – the corset, the petticoats, the this, the that – it was very restricting,” she shares.
“I took some nose dives a few times because I just tripped over. (There were) lots of bruises but no big injuries.”
Zeta-Jones may have taken a number of falls for Zorro 2, but her star power has always been on the rise since gaining recognition through MOZ.
To date, the actress has worked with the best in the Hollywood industry such as directors Steven Spielberg and Steven Soderbergh, as well as talents like Tom Hanks, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and of course, Antonio Banderas.
In 2002, the star added another luminous feather to her cap by bagging an Oscar for her portrayal as the murderous Velma Kelly in the musical Chicago.
Yup, the Wales native has experienced lots of positive changes – both professionally and personally – in the past seven years, but the one change Zeta-Jones appreciates the most is that of being a wife and a mother.
“There’s nothing else really (but) my husband and children,” she reveals. “There’s so much to being a mother. I’m giving them the best upbringing I possibly can. They didn’t ask to be born to us. They don’t get it when they get chased by photographers.
“I just want to bring them up as good kids. They’re wealthy, been to nice places and live a privileged life so I think my duty as a parent is to just make them good kids.”
However, having a family has dramatically changed her lifestyle. She admits to being thoroughly committed to her career before settling down. Back then, she could just pack up her bags and leave to go anywhere at any time for a job, but that isn’t possible anymore.
“I can’t do movies back-to-back now. My son’s in big boy’s school, so you know, every year it’s going to change.”
Since family comes first, does she regret having to give up plum roles with award-winning potential?
“No,” she replies. “Well, you’ll always get sick when you pass on something and then when you see it, it’s really good. You get really pissed and go something like: ‘What was I, on drugs?! (laughs)’”
“That’s just one of those things but no, I actually had my children, actually went through the gestation period and gave birth to them. I can’t imagine my life without them. I don’t want to live my life just for movies.”
So perhaps the star should combine both work and family; after all, Douglas is also in the business.
The Welsh beauty scrunches up her face when that is suggested and says: “I think it’s harder when you are married, you know. To get beyond that ‘Oh, they are going to be sleeping together tonight’ or ‘I wonder who made the coffee this morning’ ... I don’t really know what it is but I think reality kicks in and the magic’s gone.”
Nonetheless, there is one movie she’d like to make opposite Douglas. “I’d like to remake The War of the Roses with my husband. And I think that would be the only film people would be interested in watching – seeing us fight each other.”
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