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The Woman from Wales

Movie star. Oscar winner. Wife of Michael Douglas. Catherine Zeta-Jones is all those things as she nears 40 but at heart, she is still a small-town girl.

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Her parental instincts have tempered her hunger to work: "It used to be, 'What? You want me in Africa? What time?' Now I've got kids in school and that's what my life is about. So I've got to be passionately enthusiastic about a role for it to take me away from them. There aren't many movies made in Bermuda—and I don't know why because it's quite beautiful."

Instead, she's leaning toward producing and even directing. Her production company, Milkwood Films (named after Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's play, "Under Milkwood"), is developing a miniseries for HBO based on Geraldine Brooks's novel, People of the Book.

She has a couple of acting projects in development as well, including a film about the death of gangster Johnny Stompanato, in which she'd play Lana Turner, and a possible 3D rock musical about Caesar and Cleopatra that her friend Steven Soderbergh (who directed her in Traffic and Ocean's Twelve) is putting together: "Only Steven could do that. I'd read the phone book for him, if he asked."

There's also the possibility of television. Zeta-Jones, who has been a commercial spokesperson for T-Mobile and Elizabeth Arden, points to actresses such as Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Kyra Sedgwik, Mary Louise Parker and Toni Collette—all of whom have found substantial roles starring in their own series on cable TV.

"There used to be such a stigma about movie stars going on TV," she says. "Then Helen Hunt won an Emmy and an Oscar in the same year. A lot of the best writing is on television these days. There was also a taboo about appearing in commercials. But I've been very successful in those. It's all business."

As lunch ends, the conversation turns back to her native Wales and the fact that most Americans, hearing her accent, assume she is English.

"But we're not English," she says emphatically, then smiles. "Except when it comes to the World Cup; Wales never does too well, but England does. When England's in the World Cup, all of a sudden, the whole country is English!"

Marshall Fine is an author and film critic whose work can be found at

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