WorldWhat made Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas one of Hollywood's most enduring...

What made Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas one of Hollywood’s most enduring couples

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Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, who this Saturday turn 52 and 77 years old, respectively, have been one of the most admired couples in Hollywood for just over two decades, although few would have bet on them. Over the years, they have shown that neither crises nor illnesses or any other obstacles can bring them down. With more than 40 films and an Oscar in her case, and almost 70 features and two statuettes in his, her work is one of the issues that most keep them together. In fact, the volatility of their professional agendas, although it could indicate otherwise, turned out to be very useful to them. Or, at least, this is what is meant by the statements she herself gave in April to the The Wall Street Journal: “The reason my husband and I spend so much time together is that, unlike most couples, we’ve never had a steady job with a 9am-5pm schedule. For example, I work 16 hours a day or I don’t work at all. And he, the same. Thanks to this, we had the opportunity throughout our relationship to spend many hours alone”.

In fact, on that occasion he said that they were both still “having a lot of fun together” and he didn’t bother to mention one of the most repeated aspects about them all this time: the difference in age. “My husband is 25 years older than me, this is no secret. And no sentimental relationship would be normal if there were no inequalities. Our constant is to love and respect each other. We never lost our sense of humor and we still enjoy our company a lot,” said the actress.

This film history dates back to September 1998. Concretely to the day their paths crossed at the Deauville American Film Festival, the second most important in France after Cannes. Taking advantage of what she disclosed Zorro’s mask and that he was in the Norman city to present a perfect crime, Antonio Bandeiras and Melanie Griffith organized a private dinner. At first, there was every reason to believe there might be a crush at first sight between them, but suddenly Douglas made a comment that baffled Zeta-Jones. As the actor narrated in 2016 in the program The Jonathan Ross Show: “After about half an hour I said, ‘You know? I will be the father of your children’”. The Welshwoman, stunned by that phrase, immediately ended the conversation by claiming that the next day she needed to travel to Scotland, where she would participate in the shooting of Trap.

That’s how she would tell the magazine this year The New Yorker: “I replied, ‘Fine. I have read a lot about you. I saw a lot about you. I’ve heard a lot about you. Good night’. I went to bed and got up at five in the morning. I flew to London, changed planes, went to Aberdeen and boarded a ferry to cross to the Isle of Mull. Once there, there was a large bouquet of flowers that said, ‘Sorry if I scared you. With love, Michael Douglas’. He always says that the florist who brought these flowers to the Isle of Mull saved his life. If someone tells you they’re going to be the father of your kids as soon as they meet you, that’s a little scary. But he was right.”

From then on, they spent the next few months talking endless hours on the phone and seeing each other secretly whenever their footage allowed. Their relationship, to their surprise, continued to strengthen by leaps and bounds. So much so that on December 31, 1999, while on vacation in Aspen, Colorado, Douglas proposed to her with a 10-carat Fred Leighton diamond ring, valued at a million dollars. “We were both sick like dogs, with the flu”, recalled the protagonist of a day of fury to Ross King.

The year 2000 marked a before and an after in their lives. On August 15, Dylan Michael was born, the first child of Zeta-Jones and the second of Douglas (he had made his paternity debut in 1978 with Cameron, the fruit of his marriage to film producer Diandra Luker). And on November 18, they were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The ceremony, attended by the cream of Hollywood, cost 1.5 million dollars. Far from embarking on a luxurious honeymoon, they took refuge in their New York apartment with the baby. The following years were fruitful. In 2002 the family moved to one of Douglas’ properties in the Bahamas. And 2003 was full of good news: in March, Zeta-Jones won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the musical Chicago, and a month later Carys Zeta Douglas, their second child, would be born. These were happy times.

But the couple did not count that, soon after returning to live in New York, in 2009, they would face a flood of dramas that would put the foundations of their relationship to the test. In August 2010, Douglas was diagnosed with advanced throat cancer. “We try to keep it as private as possible, but because of what we do it’s very difficult. I haven’t talked enough to other people about the topic. It was very hard for our children to ask us if daddy was going to die”, voiced Zeta-Jones in the publication Good Housekeeping in 2016.

In January 2011, the actor was declared cured of cancer. But after struggling with the stress of those harsh months, in early April Zeta-Jones was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital to treat her hitherto secret bipolar disorder. “I hope I can help eliminate any stigma related to this,” he said in InStyle. Two years later, in April 2013, the actress returned to seeking professional help. Unlike the first time, when her agent attributed the hospitalization to the strain caused by her husband’s illness, no specific reason was offered to justify the hospitalization. Since then, there has been no relapse, at least publicly.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, nine months pregnant, with her Oscar for best supporting actress for ‘Chicago’. REUTERS

That period was billed. Shortly after her second hospitalization, Zeta-Jones temporarily stepped away from the screen. In mid-2013, the couple went their separate ways. It is true that they would reconcile at the end of the same year, but the press did not find out until later. “I’m crazy about her. I think all couples have their hard times. The only problem is that, as you well know, we are in the public eye and the tendency is for us to have a little more exposure than most. But we’re back, stronger than ever,” a elated Douglas told presenter Ellen Degenere in 2015.

Once this crash was over, everything returned to normal. He is living a second cinematographic youth after playing Hank Pym in the saga Ant Man, from Marvel. Since 2017, she has been very busy with Casa Zeta-Jones, her own line of cosmetics, fashion, footwear and decoration. as she said in the The New Yorker: “Casa Zeta-Jones is the umbrella for everything I like. My mother was a seamstress and I sew. I’m a phenomenal and crazy aspiring interior decorator. What I was looking for was to create a brand that really embodied me as a woman, not as Catherine Zeta-Jones walking the red carpet in high heels”.

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