Catherine Zeta-Jones is a Welsh actress. She aspired to a theatrical career from an early age, and in her teens, she played roles in the West End productions of the musicals Annie and Bugsy Malone. Zeta-Jones established herself in Hollywood with roles in the action film The Mask of Zorro (1998) and the heist film Entrapment (1999). She has received an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Tony Award, and in 2010 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her film and humanitarian endeavors.
Zeta-Jones was born in Treboeth, Swansea, Wales, on September 25, 1969 to David Jones, the owner of a sweet factory, and his wife Patricia (née Fair), a seamstress. Her father is Welsh and her mother is of Irish Catholic descent. She was named after her grandmothers, Zeta Jones and Catherine Fair. She has an older brother, David, and a younger brother, Lyndon, who worked as a sales representative before venturing into film production. When she was 12, the family moved to the seaside village of Mumbles. She was educated at the Dumbarton House School, a private school in Swansea. The family came from a modest background, but they won £100,000 in a bingo competition, allowing them to pay for Zeta-Jones' dance and ballet lessons.
Her mother sent Zeta-Jones to the Hazel Johnson School of Dance when she was five years old. She participated in school stage shows from a young age and gained local media attention when her rendition of a Shirley Bassey song won a Junior Star Trail talent competition. As part of a dance troupe, she routinely took trips to London, where she auditioned for roles in the theatre. At the age of nine she was selected to play one of the orphan girls in a West End production of the musical Annie, and at 11 she became a national tap-dancing champion. In 1981, she played the lead role of Annie in a production of the musical at the Swansea Grand Theatre. Two years later, she played the lead role of Tallulah in a West End production of Bugsy Malone. When she was 15, Zeta-Jones dropped out of school without obtaining O-levels and moved to London to pursue a full-time acting career; she was engaged to perform in a touring production of The Pajama Game. She then went on to attend the independent Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick, London, for a three-year course in musical theatre.
In 1990, Zeta-Jones made her film debut in the director Philippe de Broca's film 1001 Nights, an adaptation of the Persian fable One Thousand and One Nights, which was not well received at the box office. Greater success followed when she starred opposite David Jason and Pam Ferris in the British period comedy-drama television series The Darling Buds of May from 1991 to 1993. The series was the highest-rated television show in the country at the time, and Zeta-Jones gained wide public recognition for it.
After growing tired of being typecast as the token pretty girl in British films, Zeta-Jones moved to Los Angeles. She believed that the anonymity she faced in America helped her get roles on merit and not due to her public image. She earned the part of Sala, the henchwoman of the villainous Drax in the superhero film The Phantom (1996). A reviewer for Variety considered Zeta-Jones to be a standout in her part, but the film had a negative critical reception and earned little at the box office. The CBS television miniseries Titanic (1996) was better received. Starring opposite Peter Gallagher and George C. Scott, she portrayed the lead role of Isabella Paradine, a young mother engaged in an extramarital affair on the RMS Titanic. Steven Spielberg took notice of Zeta-Jones in Titanic and recommended her to Martin Campbell, who was directing The Mask of Zorro (1998) for Spielberg's production company. The Mask of Zorro was positively received by the critics and earned over $250 million worldwide. The role proved to be a breakthrough for Zeta-Jones, and she was nominated for the MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance.
Zeta-Jones' first release of 1999 was the heist film Entrapment, in which she starred opposite Sean Connery as a seductive insurance agent on the lookout for an art thief, and despite a negative critical reception, the film was a commercial success. Later that year, Zeta-Jones appeared alongside Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor in The Haunting, a remake of the 1963 film of the same name about a team of paranormal experts who look into strange occurrences in an ill-fated mansion. The horror feature received generally poor reviews but found a large worldwide audience. After then taking the supporting part of star John Cusack's romantic interest in the comedy-drama High Fidelity (2000), Zeta-Jones starred in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (2000). The ensemble of Traffic won the SAG Award for Outstanding Cast and Zeta-Jones was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The romantic comedy America's Sweethearts was Zeta-Jones' sole film project of 2001. The following year, Zeta-Jones starred alongside Renée Zellweger as the murderous nightclub singer Velma Kelly in Chicago (2002), a film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name from the director Rob Marshall. Chicago earned $306 million worldwide, and was the recipient of the Academy Award for Best Picture. For her performance, Zeta-Jones won the Academy Award, SAG Award, and the British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, among other awards and nominations.
After the success of Chicago, Zeta-Jones starred in several high-profile films, including the black comedy Intolerable Cruelty (2003), the heist film Ocean's Twelve (2004), the comedy The Terminal (2004), and the romantic comedy No Reservations (2007). Parts in smaller-scale features were followed by a decrease in workload, during which she returned to the stage and made her Broadway debut, portraying an ageing actress in A Little Night Music (2009), which won her the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Following a three-year sabbatical from acting, Zeta-Jones made her screen comeback in Lay the Favorite (2012), a comedy co-starring Bruce Willis and Rebecca Hall, which received mostly negative critiques. In the ensemble musical comedy Rock of Ages, co-starring Tom Cruise and Bryan Cranston, Zeta-Jones played the part of a religiously conservative wife of a mayor, but the film received mixed reviews and failed commercially. Her final release of 2012 was Playing for Keeps, a romantic comedy with Gerard Butler, which proved to be her third box office failure of the year.
In 2013, Zeta-Jones took on a leading role in the crime thriller Broken City, co-starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. As with Zeta-Jones' previous few projects, the film was not widely seen, and received poor reviews, but this changed when Zeta-Jones collaborated with Soderbergh for the third time to film the critically acclaimed thriller Side Effects (2013). In the action-comedy film Red 2 (2013), a sequel to the 2010 film Red, Zeta-Jones played a seductive Russian double agent, alongside Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and Mary-Louise Parker. With a worldwide gross of $148 million, the film emerged as her biggest box office success since No Reservations.
Following Red 2, Zeta-Jones took another sabbatical from acting. In 2016, she played opposite Bill Nighy and Toby Jones in the British war comedy film Dad's Army, based on the television sitcom of the same name. As of August 2016, Zeta-Jones is scheduled to portray the Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco in the upcoming biopic The Godmother. She will also be playing the actress Olivia de Havilland in Feud, an anthology television series from Ryan Murphy about the rivalry between the actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
In the early 1990s, Zeta-Jones had brief relationships with the television personality John Leslie, musician David Essex, and the pop star Mick Hucknall, which were widely reported by the British press. In the mid-1990s, she was briefly engaged to the Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen.
In August of 1998, Zeta-Jones met actor Michael Douglas, with whom she shares a birthday and who is 25 years her senior, at the Deauville Film Festival in France, after being introduced by Danny DeVito. They became engaged on December 31, 1999 in Aspen, Colorado, and were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York on November 18, 2000, after Douglas' divorce was finalized. The high-profile ceremony, which cost an estimated £1.5 million, was called the "wedding of the year" by the BBC.
Douglas and Zeta-Jones have two children together, a son Dylan Michael (born August 2000) and a daughter Carys Zeta (born April 2003). The family lived in Bermuda until 2009, and as of 2016, they live in New York. In 2010, Douglas was diagnosed with tongue cancer, and Zeta-Jones found it stressful. This trigger led to Zeta-Jones suffering from depression, and despite initial apprehension, she spoke publicly about suffering from bipolar II disorder. She sought treatment by checking herself into Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut on April 6, 2011 and again on April 20, 2013. Owing to the stress of both their illnesses, the couple decided to live separately in 2013, though without taking legal action towards separation or divorce. They reconciled in 2014, with Douglas stating that they were "stronger than ever".
- Catherine Zeta-Jones was Ryan Murphy's only choice for the role of Olivia de Havilland, which he offered to her personally.
- Feud (2017) is the first television show for Catherine Zeta-Jones in 21 years, the last being Titanic (1996).
- In the early 2000s, Zeta-Jones was among the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.
- She was actually born "Catherine Zeta Jones" without the hyphen.
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