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Wed, October 26, 2005
Leaving her mark

Catherine Zeta-Jones returns for Zorro sequel


By JIM SLOTEK, SUN MEDIA

Catherine Zeta-Jones back in Zorro sequel.

LOS ANGELES -- The actual amount of time between the original The Mask of Zorro and Friday's release of its sequel, The Legend of Zorro, was seven years. In the lives of the characters, it's presented as 10.

For Catherine Zeta-Jones, it's the time that elapses between entire lives.

LAUNCHED HER TO STARDOM

"I used to bump into Antonio (Banderas) or (director) Martin Campbell and it was always, 'Let's do another one,' " Zeta-Jones says of the movie that turned her from an unknown into a bankable lead.

"And it was not just professionally important to me, but personally too. Michael (Douglas) saw me in it, seduced me ... hounded me ... followed me around the world! And look at me now, two kids later."

Maybe it's the allergy medication that makes Zeta-Jones especially ebullient this day. But she has given a pretty good thumbnail sketch of how one of the most improbable of cross-generational Hollywood couples came to be.

She and Douglas met at the Deauville Film Festival in France where she was promoting Zorro and Douglas had become besotted by the unknown woman he'd seen playing the fiery Elena Montero. A whirlwind courtship followed that led to her marrying a Hollywood star 25 years her senior.

Just how whirlwind it was becomes clear when Zeta-Jones, who is now 36, mentions that Michael rented a house in L.A. last year as a midpoint for Zeta-Jones and family while she filmed The Legend of Zorro in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

She had to rent in L.A.? The Douglases own several houses, with a principal residence in Bermuda (they recently bought a winter place in Mont Tremblant, Que.). How could they not have a place in Los Angeles?

"I don't like it. And Michael never lived there. He was brought up on the East Coast and only came here sometimes to see his dad (Kirk Douglas)."

So no, it wasn't the same old Catherine Zeta-Jones who returned to Mexico. That Catherine could wander around shopping in the local markets while photographers snapped furiously at her co-stars Banderas and Anthony Hopkins.

"This time, just keeping where I lived private was hard enough. But San Luis Potosi really opened its arms to us. There were restaurants that became my cantinas. They'd cook for me, and my driver would pick it up."

In The Legend of Zorro, Zeta-Jones goes from a real improbable marriage to another onscreen. In it, Don Alejandro de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro (Banderas) has arrived at a crossroads in his marriage with Elena (Zeta-Jones) - his commitment to the people of colonial California having reached a fever pitch with the electoral decision of the state to join the U.S.

She wants more of him, as much for the sake of their child Joaquin (Adrian Alonso), a mini-Zorro who already exhibits signs of his dad's swashbuckling flair, as for herself.

The couple separates, and with a divorce decree comes a new suitor, a sinister French nobleman played by Rufus Sewell. All this as nefarious plans unfurl all around.

What thrilled her the most was that she had even more swordfighting to do than she did the first time around.

BROKE ACTOR'S NOSE

Sewell says Zeta-Jones was so jazzed by the fight scenes that she actually broke his nose. "Is he still talking about it?" she says with mock disgust. "God, enough already. I sent him flowers. I went to his trailer three times to make sure he was OK.

"I'd never fenced until the first Zorro. And I had no time, this time, between finishing Ocean's 12 and going to Mexico where they'd already been shooting for a few weeks. But it kind of came back."

It was also an emotional reunion, she says. "I had a tear in my eye when I saw Antonio in his Zorro getup."
Next story: Wyrd twist could keep Potter film in limbo


Sun Media Corporation

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