Catherine Zeta-Jones: a life in film

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Starting out in musical theatre, this week's Stylist cover star Catherine Zeta-Jones was a leading lady from the very beginning, commanding attention in shows such as Annie and 42nd Street, before hitting our screens (and, we have to admit, stealing our hearts) as Mariette in the TV series The Darling Buds of May. The Hollywood hills soon beckoned and Catherine quickly conquered the big screen with a series of action-packed roles in films such as The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, while the year 2000 brought a Golden Globe nomination (for her role in Traffic) and marriage to Michael Douglas. Catherine's film career continues to go from strength to strength, with memorable roles in Ocean's Twelve, The Terminal and Chicago, and now she's set to star opposite Tom Cruise in her latest movie Rock of Ages, out this week. Not bad for a small-town girl from Wales.

Take a look back at Catherine's glittering film career in our gallery below, and read Stylist's exclusive interview with the star here.

Image credit: Rex and 20th Century Fox

  • 42nd Street (1987)

    Catherine's career took off when illness befell both the lead actress and understudy in the Drury Lane production of 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal. Cast in the leading role of Peggy Sawyer, Catherine wowed the audience - including one of the show's producers, who cast her permanently in the role shortly afterwards.

  • Les 1001 Nuits (1990)

    Catherine's feature film debut came a few years later, when she appeared in the cheeky French comedy Le 1001 Nuits as the character Sheherazade, who re-lives the legends of the 1001 nights helped along by a genie watching her ancient adventures on television in 1990. With that synopsis, we can understand why the producers thought it a good idea for Catherine to appear in that particular outfit.

  • Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992)

    Obviously bitten by the adventure-film bug, Catherine followed up Les 1001 Nuits with a role in the New World pioneer drama, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, alongside Hollywood heavy-weights Marlon Brando, Benicio Del Toro and Tom Selleck.

  • Splitting Heirs (1993)

    Catherine's striking beauty lent itself easily to the role of the glamorous Kitty Farrant in the complicated British comedy of errors, Splitting Heirs, about a cursed aristocratic family that loses its heir and then finds him again.

  • The Darling Buds of May (1991-93)

    Swapping the big screen for the small one, Catherine blossomed before our eyes playing Mariette Larkin in the ITV series the Darling Buds of May. Set during the 50s in the idyllic Kent countryside, Zeta-Jones played the eldest daughter of the tricksy Larkin family, turning the head of naive tax collector Charley (Philip Franks) resulting in their marriage. Aired during a period of economic recession, the show's feel-good factor and 'fun for all the family' tone made it a huge success.

  • Blue Juice (1995)

    From Kent to the Cornish coast - Catherine joined Sean Pertwee and Ewan McGregor in British surfing film Blue Juice, playing Pertwee's fiesty girlfriend Chloe who attempts to get him to grow up and ditch his loser friends in favour of a committed relationship.

  • The Phantom (1996)

    Once in Hollywood, Catherine ditched her good girl persona in order to play a baddie in the superhero action-adventure, The Phantom. Starring alongside Billy Zane in the title role, Zeta-Jones appeared as Sala - the leader of a group of air pirates who kidnap the Phantom's love interest, Diana Palmer (Kristy Swanson).

  • The Mask of Zorro (1998)

    Positively thriving in leading lady territory, Catherine threw herself wholeheartedly into the role of Elena Montero in the first instalment of the swashbuckling adventure series Zorro. Starring alongside Antonio Banderas and Antony Hopkins, she learnt to sword-fight, ride horses and she even took elecution lessons to master her character's accent.

  • Entrapment (1999)

    The physical demands of Zorro put Catherine in good stead for Entrapment, where she played an insurance agent put through her paces by master thief Sean Connery. Taking her on as an apprentice, there's suspicion and distrust in the air, plus, with a highly valuable art piece ripe for the stealing, it becomes difficult to tell who is trying to trap whom.

  • The Haunting (1999)

    Catherine starred alongside Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor in The Haunting - a remake of the 1963 horror film of the same name - playing bisexual character Theo (Theodora). Invited to take part in a sleep study at a huge mansion, Zeta-Jones, Wilson and Taylor's characters they get more than they bargained for when Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson) tells them of the house's ghostly past.

  • Traffic (2000)

    Adpated for the big screen from the Channel 4 TV show Traffik, the film version - directed by Steven Soderbergh, of Erin Brockovich and Ocean's Eleven fame - was no less hard-hitting. Told from different perspectives, the film explores the illegal drug trade, with Catherine playing Helena Ayala, the pregnant wife (Catherine was also pregnant in real-life with her son Dylan) of a dangerous drug lord. Her role earned her a Golden Globe nomination, and later in the year Catherine married fellow Traffic star Michael Douglas.

  • America's Sweethearts (2001)

    This playful rom-com saw Catherine take up the leading lady mantel once again, starring as Gwen Harrison - one half of the Hollywood golden couple, known as 'America's sweethearts'. While the public sees a sizzling on-and-off screen romance between Gwen and husband Eddie (played by John Cusack), the reality is an acrimonious split. Unfortunately movie publicist Lee Phillips (played by Billy Crystal) needs to get the two back together in order to sell the pair's last film to their adoring fans.

  • Chicago (2002)

    Combining her two specialties, theatre and film, Catherine played murderous vaudevillian Velma Kelly in the big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago, alongside Richard Gere as her lawyer Billy Flynn and Renée Zellweger as fellow Cook County jailbird, Roxie Hart. The film was a worldwide success and netted Catherine an Oscar and a BAFTA, amongst other awards, in the best supporting actress category.

  • Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

    Starring opposite George Clooney in the Coen brothers' black comedy Intolerable Cruelty, Catherine played beautiful gold digger Marilyn Rexroth, who marries womanising divorce lawyer Miles Massey (Clooney) to inact revenge on him after he scuppers the divorce settlement of her previous marriage to a millionaire.

  • The Terminal (2004)

    Inspired by the true story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri who stayed in the Charles de Gaulle International Airport in France for 17 years, The Terminal tells the tale of Viktor Navorski, played by Tom Hanks, an immigrant from eastern Europe who takes up residency at JFK airport and is befriended by Zeta-Jones, who plays flight attendant Amelia Warren.

  • Ocean's Twelve (2004)

    Playing opposite George Clooney once again, Catherine joined the celeb-heavy ensemble cast of Ocean's Twelve, which featured Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia. The Ocean's Eleven sequel sees Zeta-Jones play Europol detective Isabel Lahiri, who is trying to prevent high-stakes thief Danny Ocean (Clooney) from pulling off three major European heists in order to pay $160 million back to casino owner Terry Benedict (Garcia), which was stolen in the previous film.

  • The Legend of Zorro (2005)

    Getting a feeling for sequels, Catherine reprised her role as Elena Montero in the follow-up to swashbuckling adventure, The Mask of Zorro, alongside on-screen husband Antonio Banderas.

  • No Reservations (2007)

    Catherine received a People's Choice Award nomination for her role in rom-com drama, No Reservations, in which she played hard-nosed chef Kate Armstrong, whose life is turned upside down when she takes in her young niece, played by Abigail Breslin (star of indie flick Little Miss Sunshine), following a tragic accident that killed Kate's sister.

  • Death Defying Acts (2007)

    Catherine cultivated an impressive Scottish accent for her role in mystic thriller Death Defying Acts, also starring Guy Pearce and The Lovely Bones actress Saoirse Ronan. The film tells the story of escapologist Harry Houdini (Pearce) who, 13 years after his mother's death, offers $10,000 to anyone who can quote her dying words to him in an attempt to unmask fraudulent psychics. Zeta-Jones plays Edinburgh con-artist Mary McGarvie, who sets her sights on Houdini's big prize.

  • The Rebound (2009)

    Before taking a break from movie-making to return to the stage (she made her Broadway debut in the revival of A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury in 2009), Catherine decided to spend some time in the company of a younger man in her role as Sandy in The Rebound. The 40-year-old mother of two begins dating her children's 25-year-old nanny, Aram Finkelstein (played by Justin Bartha), after a hasty divorce from her cheating husband.


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