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Catherine Zeta-Jones – reigniting the spark

Staying ambitious, alert and driven is at the very heart of who Catherine Zeta-Jones is. But as she reveals to Simone Lee, even the very best in the game, even one half of the ultimate Hollywood power couple, has experienced periods of life where she’s struggled to move forward.

Many people might label it ‘contentment’, ‘slowing down’, ‘kicking back’. We’ve all been there – perhaps a few days into a holiday, perhaps just a lazy Sunday afternoon… those times when you’re just happy for life to drift away as you relax.

For most of us it’s a pleasant feeling, and something to be enjoyed, but for Catherine Zeta-Jones, she found it the experience horrifying. “I guess it began a few years ago,” begins the 49-year-old. “Sometimes, approaching milestones or moving past certain years can make you look back and consider how much you have achieved; and because of that… because of the fact I have always been quite satisfied with how things have gone, it becomes easier to say, ‘you know, I think I’m okay for the time being’. And what that effectively does is dim the spark a little.”

Zeta-Jones admits that, inadvertently, she was boxing in her creatively. “That’s what it felt like – like I had shut a door,” she says.

“I guess the reality was I wasn’t actually boxed in because I’ve had an incredibly diverse career, from Chicago to Traffic to Zorro, extraordinary diversity musicals, dramas, TV and more. I was still enthusiastic, but I just didn’t feel that energy anymore.”

It was when landing the part of Griselda in Netflix drama Cocaine Godmother that the Welsh actress admits she rediscovered a large piece of herself. “It was exhilarating,” she says. “I went to another level, a level I have never been before. I was able to envelop and engross my whole being, emotionally and physically into another woman’s life, another’s woman’s experience, and that in turn transformed my own.

“I think what I learnt from the whole thing was to keep pushing, keep discovering, keep exploring.”

Crucially, perhaps, the actress admits the relationship she has with Oscar-winning husband Michael Douglas is one very much away from the big screen. “We rarely give each other any advice,” she says, “We’re not like that. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea, especially when you both work in the same business, you know, it’s easily best to just let the other do their job. After all, Michael is one the greatest actors in the world – who am I to give him advice?

“What we do believe in is trying to get every last bit out of the experiences we have – I think that’s very important.”

As a result of that, perhaps, the actress says the couple are also going through a phase where, curiously, they are continuing to find out new things about each other.

“Michael was dropping me off at the airport ahead of filming for ‘Godmother’, and he turned and said to me, ‘you know you’ve got this, and you know you don’t have to do very much’. And this to me is the most complex role I’ve ever played, so many layers, so intricate and detailed, and I said to him, ‘Actually, no, I’m going to have to do a lot… what are you talking about?’ And he said, ‘when you do nothing, when you say nothing, you’re scary’.

“And this was absolute news to me,” she laughs. “This was brand new information, that I am inherently terrifying to my husband when I do nothing. And my kids agreed. They said I have this look that stops time, everything freezes, and they know I’m serious. So it was quite gratifying to discover a secret weapon I never knew I had, and that’s something that makes you feel that however much you have done, there is just so much still waiting going forward… so much that you don’t know; and I do love that feeling.”


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Simone Lee

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