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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.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Catherine Zeta-Jones, September/October 2009

(continued from page 5)

"He said, 'Let's swing by the house. I want you to meet Dad,'" she recalls. "Before I knew it, we were swinging into the driveway. And Kirk was so charming. He started flirting with me and ignoring Michael. Finally, Michael said, 'Dad, what am I, chopped liver?' Kirk is an amazing guy: He's had a stroke, a pacemaker, a helicopter crash, both knees replaced—and he's writing his 10th book and doing a one-man show where he talks onstage for an hour and a half. He hasn't lost his love of life."

The pair were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York on Nov. 18, 2000, a wedding attended by an all-star guest list, prompting a media frenzy. And no, Zeta-Jones says, never in her wildest girlish dreams did she imagine having a wedding that would require security guards to keep reporters, photographers and the public at bay.

Indeed, she says, she remembers, years earlier, taking her mother to see Basic Instinct at a local cinema, and the nudges from her mother during the movie's sexier moments, neither of them dreaming that the actor on the screen would one day be part of the family.

Shortly before the wedding, while Zeta-Jones was pregnant with Dylan, she and Douglas appeared in a film together for the only time so far: Traffic, in which they never shared a scene and only shared a trailer on set for a half-day. They hope to finally make a picture together in the near future: a comic action-adventure with a Romancing the Stone vibe, called Racing the Monsoon. But they won't play romantic leads opposite each other.

"The history of married couples playing romantic roles is not great," says Douglas, who will produce the film. "The audience misses the mystery. I'm comfortable playing the villain. I think the audience will enjoy me lurking over her and her male lead."

Adds Zeta-Jones, "He wants me to have a young hunky guy to seduce."

Since the birth of their children (she was hugely pregnant with Carys when she accepted her Oscar for Chicago), she's gotten pickier about roles, averaging one film a year since the turn of the millennium. Like The Rebound, most have been comedies: America's Sweethearts, Intolerable Cruelty, No Reservations. But there was also Chicago, the film of Bob Fosse's Broadway musical that earned her an Academy Award for playing headline-hunting murderess Velma Kelly.

"Despite my roots, I never thought I'd get to do a musical on film—I thought musicals were dead and buried," she says. "Winning the award was like a blur. I had to go back and watch a rerun to see what I said. I remember that I sang a song with Queen Latifah, then had to change before going back to my seat—and getting changed was not easy to do when you're eight months pregnant.

"I was dumbstruck when I won. Afterward, I called up my mother and said, 'I won!' She said, 'I know.' It was 3 a.m. in Wales but they were watching—and drinking. The Welsh can drink!"

After Chicago, she says, "every musical that was going to be revived came across my desk." While Zeta-Jones would welcome the chance to get back on stage for the first time in 20 years, she's not interested in a show that's already part of the musical-comedy canon.

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