1990 is when Catherine Zeta-Jones emerged on the big screen, while the road to fame was a rocky one, once she established herself – she was a force to be reckoned with. Her marriage to Michael Douglas was the talk of the town, her beauty is known worldwide as are her charitable efforts, and finally, Zeta-Jones is fairly open with her most intimate feelings, including her battle with depression. Catherine Zeta-Jones: this is her story, get ready.
When it comes to Catherine Zeta-Jones’ family, we have a lot to say. Her father, David, is the owner of a sweet factory, while her mother, Patricia, is a seamstress. Growing up meant that the family didn’t have a lot of money but David and Patricia worked hard to provide the absolute best for Catherine and her two brothers. A trait Zeta-Jones passes onto her own children.
Catherine Zeta-Jones: How It All Began
1969 in Swansea, Wales is when and where the story of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones takes place. At just age four, Zeta-Jones began taking dance lessons – mostly because she was a hyperactive child. No really, her parents have said that her energy levels were off the charts! That’s precisely why she was sent to dance class, to help burn off some of that energy!
But because her parents, who worked “blue collar jobs”, did not have a lot of money, they looked at other avenues to help pay for classes. And get this, they actually won a bingo competition which helped pay for her classes. Laugh all you want, they won $135,700 off of that Bingo competition! Yes, we’re being serious.
About The Name
Have you ever wondered just how Catherine Zeta-Jones got her name? It is pretty darn unique. And no, she did not change it once she got famous! She was indeed named after her grandmothers, Catherine Fair and Zeta Jones. Nice!
The Next Step
“I spent more time in front of a mirror dancing than I did in front of a desk,” Zeta-Jones said about her childhood. At just age 15, she dropped out of school at age 15 and joined a touring production, The Pajama Game, of which she said, “All the gay guys in the show were my surrogate mothers.” Quite challenging beginnings for Zeta-Jones but she loved every minute.
As a kid, she was a part of a dance troupe that often took trips to London, where Zeta-Jones would audition for theatre roles. When she was just nine, she was chosen to play an orphan girl in the musical Annie. However by 1981, she was playing the lead of Annie in a Swansea production of the musical. There were quite a few instances after this where Zeta-Jones snagged the lead in theatre productions – something that would mirror her film career later on.
Whenever talking about her teenage years in London, Zeta-Jones once said, “I would queue up for auditions and then change my costume or put on a different leotard and audition again. It might take me two tries, but I always got the job. I figured out what they wanted.”
On The Big Screen
In 1990, Zeta-Jones made her film debut but it was her TV work that hit big with British audiences. After starring in the comedy-drama series The Darling Buds of May from 1991 to 1993, Zeta-Jones had made it. As the highest-rated TV show of that time, Catherine said, “Literally, with one hour of television my life completely changed. I couldn’t go anywhere.”
After a string of film roles in England, Zeta-Jones was tired of getting typecast as the token pretty girl in all her British films, so she moved to Los Angeles. She said, “There was all this fuss about who I was and wasn’t dating. I was a pretty face and a big bust and nothing else. People in the business believed what they read about me. So I decided to move away and start again.”
The Mask of Zorro
1998 is when Catherine Zeta-Jones broke out in the American film scene. Obviously when she starred alongside Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins in The Mask of Zorro. After this, she landed plenty more leading roles. Maybe it’s because of her sophisticated style and sultry looks? Probably. In any case, she starred in the hit film Entrapment with Sean Connery and in Traffic, earning a Golden Globe nomination.
Landing the Role
Speaking of ‘Zorro’, Steven Spielberg had noticed Zeta-Jones when she appeared in the mini-series Titanic so he recommended her to Martin Campbell, who was directing The Mask of Zorro at the time. Moreover Campbell chose Zeta-Jones as his leading lady over Izabella Scorupco, who originally was his choice for the part.
Additionally Zeta-Jones found a few similarities between her “explosive” Celtic personality and her Latin character’s temperament – this made it quite easy to convincingly portray the role. Furthermore, in preparation for the film, Zeta-Jones studied dancing, riding, sword-fighting, and took Spanish lessons. Lastly, while filming all of the action and dance sequences, she had to wear heavy corsets in the hot Mexican desert – albeit this was incredibly challenging, but Zeta-Jones found the whole experience “worth suffering for”.
Zeta-Jones would return to musical theater roots when she starred in the 2002 film Chicago. Her portrayal of Velma Kelly was so well received that she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
After appearing in The Terminal and Ocean’s Twelve, Zeta-Jones became much more selective with the roles she took on. Why? Well she and Michael Douglas, her husband, were spending a lot of time in Bermuda, well away from the Hollywood spotlight.
1998 is the year Catherine Zeta-Jones met fellow celebrated actor Michael Douglas, and the rest as they say, is history. After meeting, it didn’t take long for this duo to make it official – despite their 25-year age difference. Together they have two children, a son Dylan and a daughter, Carys.
On November 18, 2000, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas tied the knot! In fact, the ceremony was all very high-profile and totaled to a cost of $2 million dollars (£1.5 million pounds)! Moreover, the news company BBC, labelled the event as the “wedding of the year”. AWW.
Now, speaking of the wedding, the couple did agree to a deal with OK! magazine to release pictures of the wedding, however the rest of the press was not permitted to enter whatsoever. Even so, Hello! magazine journalists secretly took pictures of the ceremony. Therefore the newly married couple successfully sued Hello! for invasion of privacy.
Welp, this adorable couple actually met at a bar while at the Deauville American Film Festival. When Douglas learned Zeta-Jones would be, he asked his publicist to arrange an introduction over drinks. As the evening came to an end, Douglas epically told Zeta-Jones, “I’m going to be the father of your children.” While he thought he sounded good, Zeta-Jones wasn’t so impressed, “She said, ‘I’ve heard a lot about you and I’ve seen a lot about you, and I think it’s time that I said goodnight.’” Immediately Douglas thought he blew his chance so he sent an apology note and flowers. “Obnoxiously so, I have to say,” Zeta-Jones said later on about his pickup line that special night. “What really annoys me is that he was right.” Never change, you two!
Sadly in 2010, Catherine Zeta-Jones left work aside in order to support her husband through an extremely difficult time, Michael was diagnosed with tongue cancer. While he successfully beat tongue cancer, the family crisis strained their relationship. With Catherine saying, “When you get sideswiped like that [with the illness] it’s an obvious trigger for your balance to be a little bit off – not sleeping, worry, stress.” As a result, Zeta-Jones fell into a massive depression.
Taking A Toll
While Douglas underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Zeta-Jones’ depression only became worse. Zeta-Jones, the following year, sought treatment for bipolar II, a kind of manic depression. Moreover she publicly acknowledged that she had been diagnosed with the mental health disorder she was seeking treatment for.
After revealing her struggles with depression, Zeta-Jones told InStyle magazine, “I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops but, with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable.” Then in April 2013, she checked into a treatment center again to receive help.
Trouble In Paradise
August of that year, it came to light that she and Michael Douglas were going through a rocky patch in their marriage. Intimately the couple chose to take “some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage,” according to a statement by their spokesperson in The Huffington Post. A year later, the pair reconciled and Douglas said they were “stronger than ever”.
Ever since Zeta-Jones was a kid, she idolized Elizabeth Taylor. “My mother used to say to me, ‘She has purple eyes and two sets—two sets—of eyelashes.’ All I wanted was to see them in real life,” Zeta-Jones recalled. She almost got her wish when she was little! Basically Zeta-Jones starred in an Annie production in London when she learned Taylor would be atthe matinee of The Little Foxes. Zeta-Jones eagerly bought daffodils (which is the Welsh national flower), but when Taylor’s car pulled up, she was wearing huge black glasses. Zeta-Jones very politely asked Taylor to remove them, but Taylor refused as she explained, “It’s far too early in the morning to do that, my love.” Later, Zeta-Jones said, “Well, she took my daffodils, anyway.”
Cook? No Way
In a 2017 interview with Vogue, Zeta-Jones admitted that she can’t cook. Gurl, we can so relate. “I make reservations; I don’t make dinner.” When the Welsh actress was asked if she prepares meals for her kids, she exclaimed, “Yes, but I wouldn’t call that cooking. I reheat.” Respect.
Not Even A Little
Catherine Zeta-Jones is not phased by the 25-year age difference she shares with her husband. In fact, Michael Douglas has even said she loves to tease him about it, “[She’ll say], ‘Oh, honey, I can’t wait when you get older and you’re going to be in the wheelchair and I’m going to be wheeling you around, and you’re going to be saying, ‘Where are we going?’ and I’ll whisper it to you, ‘Cartier, darling, Cartier,’” Douglas explained.
Not Holding Back
In 1995 with an interview with the Daily Mirror, she described her lifestyle beautifully (if you can call it that), “I drink, I swear, I like sex”. A woman of many words! Who may as well be after our own hearts!
Tap, Tap, Tap
Now here’s an odd but interesting fact about Catherine Zeta-Jones: ready? When she was a teenager, she actually became a national tap-dancing champion. And guys, that’s pretty much all we can say about that. All those years of dance paid off.
And going off that last fact, Zeta-Jones is actually a massive golf lover. Twice a week, at least, she plays a course. Moreover when she plays against her husband Michael Douglas, they have a sexy bet going – when you lose, you lose an item of clothing! Also in 2005, she took part in the victorious European team of “The All-Star Cup,” essentially a celebrity version of golf’s famous Ryder Cup, however her husband was on the losing American team.
Let’s talk money for a quick second, shall we? Together, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have a shared net worth of $345 million. Whereas, alone, she has an estimated net worth of $45 million. Either way, that’s a whole lot of Benjamin’s!
All of social media is claiming that Catherine Zeta-Jones and her 14 year old daughter, Carys, are twins! And they’re not wrong. Catherine’s “mini-me” is interested in following in mom’s footsteps, she wants to become an actress. Zeta-Jones told The Daily Mail, “She wants to get into the business in all its capacity. She is a wonderful actress and wonderful singer and pianist but she loves fashion.”
Now Carys is not the only Douglas/Zeta-Jones who has the acting bug. 17 year old Dylan performs in all of the summer musicals and threatre funtions – he has openly said to his parents that he wants to become an actor! Well he certainly two very skilled actors to teach him the ropes.
How About A Song?
For a brief period, Zeta-Jones had a singing career in the early 90’s. Just three years later and she released her first ever single, “In the Arms of Love”, on Wayne’s Wow! Records. Later on, she sang a duet with David Essex, “True Love Ways”.
Heart of Gold
We’re not surprised to learn that Zeta-Jones is a huge supporter of various charities and causes. Not only is she a patron of Swansea’s Longfields Day Centre for the disabled, but in 2001, she also auctioned off an outfit that she wore in The Mask of Zorro in order to raise funds for patients in Africa suffering from AIDS. Moreover in 2005, she became the ambassador of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children charity, and also stared the Full Stop appeal in Wales so she could raise awareness on child abuse. But the list doesn’t stop there, Zeta-Jones has a heart of gold!
Before her heart melting relationship with Michael Douglas, Zeta-Jones had a string of relationships in the early 90’s. With the TV personality John Leslie, the singer David Essex, and also the pop star Mick Hucknall. All of these relationships were heavenly reported by the British press. Especially when she became briefly engaged to Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen in the mid 90’s.
Just A Shy Kid
Just like any star, Zeta-Jones has a certain perceived media image. In 2004, she spoke to USA Weekend about how wrong the media really are, “The biggest misconception of me is that I’m some die-hard, ambitious, do-anything-to-get-anything kind of person, I’m not. I’m very shy socially.”
At the 75th Golden Globes, Zeta-Jones and the acting legend Kirk Douglas came on stage to present the award for Best Screenplay. When the two of them came on stage, they received a standing ovation! Douglas, 101 years of age, made a rare public appearance and the crowd loved it.
Sticking with the Golden Globes, Zeta-Jones was one of many Hollywood elite to wear black to the event. Why? To show her support with Time’s Up, a campaign that supports victims of sexual assault and harassment. In an interview once, Catherine said, “I like women who look like women. I hated grunge. No one’s more feminist than me, but you don’t have to look as if you don’t give a – you know. You can be smart, bright and attractive aesthetically to others – and to yourself.”
We’ve already told you that Catherine and Michael Douglas are 25 years apart, however there’s one important fact you don’t yet know. They actually share the same birthday! Douglas was born on September 25, 1944; while Zeta-Jones was born on September 25, 1969. That’s actually quite cute.
In 200, Zeta-Jones starred in the Steven Soderbergh thriller Traffic, alongside Michael Douglas and Benicio del Toro. Zeta-Jones played the part of Helena Ayala, the drug lord’s pregnant wife who takes over the “family” business when he’s arrested. Initially Soderbergh wrote her character as a mother of two, however he changed the role to a pregnant woman on Zeta-Jones’ suggestion, as she was pregnant at the time. Hey, it worked.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
When it comes to the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were made for those roles. But, Zeta-Jones was initially considered for the part of Mrs. Smith – who knows what could have happened if she had landed the part!
All That Jazz
Originally Zeta-Jones was approached to play the part of Roxie Hart (which was later played by Renée Zellweger) in Chicago. But she really wanted to play Velma Kelly. Why? Because of the song “All That Jazz” – that makes sense, it’s an amazing number. Plus when she got the role, she said, “Did I want this role? That’s like saying did I want to wake up in the morning wanting to breathe!”
From 2003 to 2004, Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas went through a pretty dark time together – when they were being stalked by Dawnette Knight. Knight send violent letters to the couple, many of which included graphic threats on Zeta-Jones’s life. Eventually the duo took legal action and while testifying, Zeta-Jones admitted that the threats scared her so much, she was afraid she’d suffer from a nervous breakdown. Knight admitted to the offenses as she was in love with Douglas, the court sentenced her to three years behind bars.
In the course of their 18 year marriage, Zeta-Jones and Douglas have dealt with a ton of divorce rumors. Especially when they took a break in 2013. In a 2016 interview with Good Housekeeping, Catherine opened up about her relationship’s highs and lows, “It’s a long road and I think people today are so quick to throw in the towel on marriage. You have to give it your best shot and not give up when the first problem arises, because that won’t be the last problem. There will be many more down the road.” After this, not many tabloids have uttered the word “divorce”.
Nothing But Love
Going off the last fact, Zeta-Jones also said, “I do think I’m lucky I met Michael. Not just Michael Douglas the actor and producer with two Oscars on the shelf, but Michael Douglas, the love of my life. I really do think it was meant to happen.” Basically don’t ever doubt their love!
“After The Mask of Zorro, people spoke Spanish to me for ages. I’m Welsh but that movie instantly gave me a new ethnicity,” said Zeta-Jones. Even to this day, some people assume that Catherine is Spanish! Even though she’s from Irish, English, and Welsh ancestry.
If you’re in need of marital advice or just want to prepare yourself, Zeta-Jones has just bit of advice for you. “For marriage to be a success, every woman and every man should have her and his own bathroom. The end.”
Okay, so apart from two bathrooms, she dishes on their own marital success. “Respect, space and a sense of humor. We spend a hell of a lot of time together, so we are careful to maintain our space. We recently had an extension built, to house a closet. It’s like the Tardis – I go in there and never come out. My husband knocks on the door and says, “Can I come in?”
Recently Zeta-Jones opened up on just how much The Mask of Zorro means to her. “This film holds a lot of meaning to me, both professionally and personally. I actually met my husband when I was promoting the film in Deauville, France, and it was such an amazing time for me, being completely unknown, really, in America or in Mexico, where I shot the first one.” She continued on to say, “It’s a very important film for me and it’s very close to my heart.”
If you’re wondering what someone like Catherine Zeta-Jones thinks makes a man irresistible, because you probably are, here’s what she had to say. “Humor and that wonderful word called ‘charisma’. You cannot translate it. I can’t nail it on the head, other than to just say that I’m completely over the top about my husband.”
In 2010, Zeta-Jones was actually appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Monarchy of the United Kingdom. Thanks to her success in film and charity work. A jack of all trades, we’d say. When being honored, she said, “As a British subject, I feel incredibly proud, at the same time it is overwhelming and humbling. And my mum and dad are delighted beyond belief.”
We’ve already said that Zeta-Jones grew up with a strong work ethic, and she still believes that that’s the way things should be done. “I didn’t even think about movies where I came from. I wanted to be on the stage. When I was 10, I did Annie in the West End. I did Bugsy Malone when I was 11 and 12. And then at 16, David Merrick saw me in 42nd Street. I took over the lead and he cast me. I was there for two and a half years. Right now, these young kids are going crazy. I never had that because I had a work ethic. I had to turn up and be there six nights a week.”
When it comes to the public spotlight, Catherine Zeta-Jones tends to keep a low profile. “I’m more insecure than I ever let anyone know, sometimes you protect yourself with this kind of armor that people see more than they see you.”
One Way To Put It
During an interview once, Zeta-Jones was asked what she thinks about the internet, people’s fascination with celebrities, and uhh, pornography. To which she said, “I don’t go into the triple-X sites. I’m certainly not going to pay money to see myself naked, when I can just go into the bathroom and whip it off for free.”
In an interview with The Telegraph in 2013, she was asked if she ever gets nervous performing. Oddly enough, she said, “I get terrified the first day I’m on a film set. I get nervous walking down a red carpet. I find making speeches the most terrifying thing in the world.” When asked how she copes with the fear, she said, “I have this system. I torture my husband and everyone around me with my nerves and anxiety. Then, when I get on stage, the fear is gone. I’ve exhausted myself. It just dissipates.”
“Being happy is the real key to beauty. It shows from the inside out. Everything else is a bonus,” said Catherine Zeta-Jones. And that just couldn’t be more true. If you’ve learned anything about the 48 year old actress, we hope you know that she is not a shallow Hollywood star. And I’m sure we’ve proven that already!