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The legend of Zeta-Jones
The Welsh-born actress reprises the role that made her a star, and triggered her romance with Michael Douglas. Jamie Portman reports.
October 26, 2005
BEVERLY HILLS, California - Catherine Zeta-Jones will always have a tender spot for the name of Zorro.
After all, the 1998 release of The Mark Of Zorro made her an international star, thanks to her swashbuckling performance opposite Antonio Banderas's masked hero.
More to the point, it triggered a whirlwind romance and marriage to Michael Douglas, who was smitten with her after seeing the film.
"For me it was not just professionally important -- but personally important," the Welsh-born beauty grins. "Michael saw me in it -- and seduced me! He hounded me. He followed me around the world. ... So look at me now! Two kids later."
Her trademark humour keeps bubbling to the surface as she talks about marriage to Douglas and how it really was a no-brainer to return to the world of her first big film success and team up with Banderas and director Martin Campbell again for The Legend Of Zorro, opening Friday.
"I used to bump into Antonio and Martin and it was always in the conversation: 'Let's do another one.' ... So we always talked about it. We had a few drafts that were sent that were just not right. All the elements had to be in place. We didn't want to do a sequel unless we were going to do one that was as good as or could surpass the original."
The screenplay by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman sets the new story a decade after the previous film. Don Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) and Elena (Zeta-Jones) are married with a 10-year-old son named Joaquin (newcomer Adrian Alonso) and the territory of California is on the brink of becoming the 31st state. Trouble is brewing because of the plotting by a mysterious medieval sect to sabotage statehood -- which means that Alejandro must once again transform himself into Zorro and come to the aid of the people of California.
But the situation triggers a rift with Elena, who wants Alejandro to give up the mask of Zorro and concentrate on being a good husband and father. This causes a rupture within the family and a dangerous new complication in the person of a villainous French aristocrat (Rufus Sewell) who covets Elena for himself.
Zeta-Jones was hoping that The Legend Of Zorro would offer her new action challenges and she wasn't disappointed. Still, she didn't intend to cause Sewell physical damage during a fight scene.
"I nearly broke his nose," she confesses. She then offers a bit of mock indignation over the fact that Sewell is telling everybody who'll listen about what a dangerous adversary she is -- and that she delivered a tougher kick than anybody else in the film, including Banderas.
"Is he still talking about that?" she exclaims, eyes sparkling. "God -- enough already! I sent him flowers. I went into his trailer three times to make sure he was OK. I felt bad." She gives a helpless shrug.
Although she loved doing the action, she did have a love-hate relationship with her wardrobe.
"Visually, I think it's absolutely superb. But the reality is that I have no idea how the hell they got dressed and undressed in that heat." She's glad the world of corsets and petticoats has ended "because to do sword fighting in them -- it's unbelievable."
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