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Published October 26, 2005

Zorro rides again

Zeta-Jones was eager to reprise role as masked hero's love interest

Catherine Zeta-Jones has a soft spot in her heart for swashbuckling heroes in black cowls and capes.

So when the idea of doing a sequel to the 1998 smash hit the Mask Of Zorro was brought to her attention, Zeta-Jones jumped at the chance to revive her role as the sword-savvy Elena de la Vega.

 "We didn't want to do a sequel unless we could do one that was as good as or could surpass the original," she told a press conference in Los Angeles earlier this month.

Along with Antonio Banderas as the title character and director Martin Campbell back at the helm, the Legend Of Zorro took shape, only this time the hero runs into family trouble before scrambling to save his wife and son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) from a cast of dastardly villains led by British actor Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale) as the debonnaire Armand.

Zeta-Jones feels that Zorro will always be meaningful to her not only because it was her first major feature film role, but also for another, more romantic, reason.

 "For me (the Mask Of Zorro) was important professionally and personally. Michael (Douglas) saw me in it, seduced me, hounded me and followed me around the world until he found me. Look at me now, two kids later."

But Zeta-Jones isn't alone in her fondness for the iconic Mexican character. Zorro has been portrayed in dozens of movies dating back to the silent film era. Director Campbell (Beyond Borders, GoldenEye) feels that the character's lasting popularity derives from his everyman appeal.

"I think it's just because he's a human being," he explains. "He has no super powers … He's very sexy, he's a great romantic, he's all of that."

Rather than bringing the Mexican hero's antics to life with extensive use of computer-generated imaging, Campbell instead chose - as in the 1998 Zorro film - to keep the special effects and stunts as real as possible and to use CGI only when absolutely necessary.

"It's not like in Batman where you're shooting at night and you can make up a slight fantasy kind of thing where you're into some kind of imaginary world. This is out in the bright sunlight and all of the action has to look possible, even though clearly some of it's impossible."

The Legend Of Zorro opens in theatres on Friday.

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