She famously said a million pounds wasn’t a lot of money and boasted of collecting houses like other people collect art.
If you think that was big-headed, brace yourself – because Catherine Zeta-Jones says she’s had enough of being modest.
The Welsh star, who is married to Hollywood legend Michael Douglas, says it is high time she stops apologising for her £200million fortune, stunning looks and Oscar-winning talent.
Catherine, 48, says: “One thing I’m not is humble any more. I’m sick of being humble. I really am. ‘So sorry I’m rich, so sorry I’m married to a movie star, so sorry I’m not so bad looking.’
“No sorrys. Enough. All that is important to me now is my work.
“That’s what I love and the rest of my life is a joy because I’ve got two beautiful kids and a healthy, happy husband. It’s all good, and I’m not going to be humble for that either.”
Catherine certainly shows no modesty when it comes to her children. This week she and Michael, 71, celebrated their 17-year-old son Dylan’s high school graduation in New York.
The proud mum is certain he and his sister Carys, 15, will continue the Douglas acting dynasty founded by paternal grandfather Kirk Douglas, 101, a star of Hollywood’s golden age.
Catherine says: “I have two kids who want to be actors and I am so proud. It’s not about fame for them. They’ve been brought up around famous people. They know what that is like.
“They want the craft because that’s what they love. And it gives me such pride that they get it. They understand that this is not a quick fix. They’re so good. I can’t wait for you all to see which way they’re going to go because they’re going to go somewhere, I’m telling you.”
Catherine wasn’t always so self-assured. Her confidence and desire to act has dipped at times during her career.
Now, as she wins more mature roles, she no longer frets about her choices.
She says: “What shaped me as an actor, more than anything, is getting older. I genuinely lost my mojo. I didn’t like it very much any more. I was on a successful path, there wasn’t any crisis or anything. And I remembered how I started off so young and became successful, because I was fearless.
“There was no questioning, wondering what people would think.
“Somewhere along the middle I got frightened again and I started to question myself as an actor, my choices.
“As I matured as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, I’m not scared anymore.”
Catherine had an incredible rise to fame. Brought up in Mumbles, Swansea, by seamstress mum Patricia and sweet factory boss dad David, she was starring in West End productions of Annie and Bugsy Malone when she was just nine.
She landed her breakout role as Mariette in ITV’s The Darling Buds of May in 1991 aged 22, and was talent spotted by American film-makers who cast her in The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment.
After romances with singer Mick Hucknall and TV presenter John Leslie, Catherine married Douglas in 2000 when Dylan was three months old. In 2003, while pregnant with Carys, Catherine won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Velma in Chicago.
Little wonder she feels no need to downplay her achievements. She says: “I come from a working-class family in Wales and I worked to get to where I am. And for many years all of us are victims of the fact that we’ve all got so humble.
“If you were a sports star and won an award you would go, ‘S*** yeah, that was the best work I’ve ever done, I rocked!’
“Whereas actors are like, ‘Oh I’m so sorry and thanks, can I say thanks?’”
Catherine recently appeared as actress Olivia de Havilland in Feud and as a drugs baroness in TV movie Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story.
She is now set to star in Queen America, which will be streamed on Facebook’s new video platform Facebook Watch. Catherine plays Vicki Ellis, a renowned and ruthless beauty pageant coach, in the 10-episode dark comedy.
She says: “She’s a great character and I couldn’t let this one go. I’ve got to get my Tulsa, Oklahoma, accent going. I love doing accents. There’s not many Welsh roles around, as you can imagine.”
Looking back, Catherine feels she owes a great debt to her former headmaster and to the poet Dylan Thomas.
She says: “I went to an academic school and they had no drama, nothing. But I was lucky enough to be born in Dylan Thomas’s hometown and so the government would finance the Dylan Thomas Theatre’s amateur dramatics and I was in. So we had a lot of art in a very working class coalmining town.
“I went on a big tour with Annie, then to get my Equity card I was offered a role in The Pyjama Game. So I had to ask my headteacher if I could leave school at 15 and he said to my parents, ‘She has to do it’. So he gave the green light with the promise that if it didn’t work out I’d go back to school. And I didn’t.”
Catherine is now preparing to film Queen America in the scorching summer heat of Atlanta, Georgia. She says: “I did say to the producers, ‘I’m the only actress who said yes, right? Yeah I’ll do it. I’ll turn up.’ I’ve always turned up. I’ll keep turning up. Because this is why I left home at nine to do Annie in London.”
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