Strange Things About Catherine Zeta-Jones And Michael Douglas' Marriage

The following article includes mentions of addiction and mental health issues.

Hollywood is a place known for whirlwind romances. Relationships among the stars burn bright, but they burn out fast. Just look at Julia Fox and Kanye West, whose hot-and-heavy romance dominated the tabloids for six short weeks until it fizzled out. Short-lived relationships in Tinseltown are a dime a dozen, but if there's anything Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones prove, it's that sometimes marriage is meant to last.

Zeta-Jones is young enough to be Douglas' daughter, but age is nothing but a number when soulmates are involved. The strangest thing about this couple is the fact that they've been married for a whopping 21 years and counting — and they appear to be as wildly in love as ever. The tabloids still catch the pair locking lips in public, and they still post adorable tributes to each other on social media.

These two have had their ups and downs, from Douglas' cancer diagnosis to Zeta-Jones' struggle with bipolar disorder. Regardless, they've always had each other's backs (Zeta-Jones even said as much on a too-sweet Instagram anniversary post). Nonetheless, there are a couple strange things about the pair (aside from their really, really long marriage).

The way Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas met

Introduced by Danny DeVito in 1998, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas' courtship was nothing short of a whirlwind, despite the former's admission to People that "we never even kissed until nine months later." But that didn't seem to slow Douglas down at all. He proposed on New Year's Eve in 1999, and the couple had their first child together, Dylan, in August 2000. They were married three months later, which according to Douglas, is actually a miracle since he felt he flubbed their initial meeting pretty badly.

During an appearance on "The Jonathan Ross Show" (via the Daily Mail), Douglas admitted that the first thing he said to her was, "You know, I'm going to be the father of your children," which is a line so admittedly skeezy even one of Hollywood's hottest actors couldn't pull it off. Zeta-Jones' response was classic: "I've heard a lot about you and I've seen a lot about you and I think it's time that I said goodnight." Ouch. Supposedly, he won her back with roses and "a touching apology note," which is also probably where that legendary leading man status came back into play. 

We're pretty sure if some dude in a grocery store suggested he was going to put a baby in Catherine Zeta-Jones, then followed her to her car with flowers, it would probably have ended in pepper spray and a restraining order, not one of Hollywood's most celebrated marriages.

Their supposedly crazy prenup

Because prenuptial agreements are legal documents between private citizens, they aren't public record. There's also a huge amount of speculation around Hollywood prenups for the obvious reason that they deal with celebrities and huge sums of money, so naturally, the one between Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones has become one of legend.

According to The Telegraph, Zeta-Jones' father was reportedly embattled with Douglas' attorneys over her demands that she receive "£3 million per year in alimony if the marriage fails or he dies." There were also rumors of a "cheating clause," which would pay Zeta-Jones an additional lump sum if Douglas strayed outside the marriage. While there's a lot of speculation there, Douglas' first marriage to Diandra Luker culminated in "one of the largest divorce settlements in Hollywood history: a reported $45 million," per Harper's Bazaar. It also ended badly, and with the specter of infidelity around it. When he went to rehab in 1992 for substance use, it was widely believed he was also there for treatment of sex addiction. According to biographer John Parker (via HuffPost), while in group therapy Douglas allegedly admitted, "Sex is just a wave that sweeps over me, an impulse that is overpowering. I'm helpless. Every time." 

Of course, Douglas has denied the sex addiction angle, so we're right back to speculating about rich people fighting over money that neither one of them really needs. Who's the real loser in all of this? Us, for not having something more constructive to do with our time.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas' age difference

Okay, we admit it, right now you're probably saying to yourself, "Wait, an older Hollywood actor is married to a beautiful younger woman? Get right out of town!" And no, it's really not that uncommon even for "normal" older men to have younger wives, but a 25-year age gap is still significant. Not only that, but Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones actually have the same birthday, which is certainly not typical.

They also have a great sense of humor about it. In an interview with Jonathan Ross (via Express), Douglas said, "We joke all the time about when I reach my 80s and she's wheeling me around and I'm saying, 'Whoa, where are we going?' And she will say, 'Cartier darling, Cartier. It's your favorite store.'" Zeta-Jones' take is just as bemused. "At night, he lets me hold the TV remote until he starts to get tired, then he gives me carte blanche to turn everything off," she joked to People.

So they seem to know how to deftly handle any "trophy wife" or "robbing the cradle" commentary, although it's always fun to do the numbers and point out stuff like when Michael Douglas was already a full-blown Hollywood megastar headlining movies like "Romancing the Stone" and "Jewel of the Nile," his wife was in high school.

The whole tongue cancer oral sex thing

First of all, we should point out the still commonly misreported statement that Michael Douglas had throat cancer, which he revealed in 2010. He did not. He actually had tongue cancer but chose to tell everyone it was in his throat on the advice of his surgeon. In a 2013 interview on "This Morning" (via Fox News), Douglas said he was told, "Well if you really want to know why, if we do have to have surgery it's not going to be pretty. You'll lose part of your jaw and your tongue and all that stuff." Yeah, not exactly stuff you want to have to talk about when you're plugging kid-friendly Marvel movies, right?

Then there was the whole oral sex thing. In a now infamous interview with The Guardian, Douglas was asked if he thought his years of tobacco use caused the cancer, to which he surprisingly replied, "No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus." Alrighty then. Obviously, a media storm ensued. His reps issued denials in as much as they could through some fancy PR speak, telling USA Today, "Michael Douglas did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer. It was discussed that oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers as doctor's in the article point out but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer."

Also, and probably most importantly here, what did Catherine Zeta-Jones think of all of this? Well, keep reading.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas took a break

That interview with The Guardian about the cunnilingus was published in June 2013. By late August, Michael Douglas' rep confirmed to the Mirror that the couple was "taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage." Obviously, neither he nor Catherine Zeta-Jones has ever come out and said his admittedly clumsy remarks were the reason for the separation, but come on. They may have already been having some issues, but if there was ever a "straw that broke the camel's back," it's insinuating to the world that your wife's fun parts might have given you cancer. It doesn't take a marriage counselor to figure that one out.

After a few months, they reconciled, which is several decades sooner than we would have anticipated, but while talking about their reunion on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (via the Daily Mail), Douglas said, "The only problem is, as you well know, we're all in the public eye and it tends to get a little more exposed than most." Yes, and under that watchful gaze he said perhaps one of the dumbest things a married man has ever said about his wife in history. Douglas also appeared to minimize the split to the Mirror, saying, "We had a little bump in the road." 

So, either Douglas is some kind of hypnotic genius, or he and Zeta-Jones' marriage is the exception to the normally disastrous concept of "taking a break."

This celeb couple shared a stalker

Dealing with stalkers is unfortunately par for the course for a lot of celebrities. It's always creepy regardless of the degree of severity, but in Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' case, it was especially disturbing. During the preliminary hearing for Dawnette Knight, the woman accused of making threatening phone calls and sending graphically violent letters to the couple, Zeta-Jones testified that she had multiple panic attacks as a result of the continual harassment.

According to the Daily Mail, Knight carried out her reign of terror over a period of a year and a half as a result of her "girlish crush on Michael Douglas," which is the surprisingly banal categorization Knight's lawyer used to describe the 19 letters and many phone calls from his client to Douglas and Zeta-Jones, one of which included the phrase "slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs." Allegedly enraged over rumors that Zeta-Jones had an affair with George Clooney during the filming of "Ocean's 12," Knight also alluded she was paid hush money by Douglas in order to keep quiet about an affair they were having.

Knight was eventually sentenced to three years in jail, but the damage of her actions had a lasting effect on Zeta-Jones. "Your actions will be with me for the rest of my life — how I will be constantly observing, looking over my shoulder," she said through a statement at the trial.

They bounced back quickly from hard times

Okay, we know it seems like we may have just made it seem like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas' separation was entirely caused by his infamous remarks, but there was obviously more to the story than that. For starters, we imagine that whole stalker and alleged affair thing back there couldn't have helped. But then, in 2010, the year Douglas was diagnosed with tongue cancer, his son from his first marriage, Cameron, was sentenced to five years in prison for drug trafficking charges. Also during this time, the stress from dealing with her husband's illness and stepson's incarceration exacerbated Zeta-Jones' yet-to-be diagnosed bipolar disorder to the point where she entered a rehab facility for treatment for it in early 2011. That is a lot for one couple to deal with in such a short amount of time.

Zeta-Jones' publicist even issued a statement attributing her "brief stay" at the facility to "dealing with the stress of the past year," according to ABC News. But by 2013, post-separation, the star told The Telegraph that she felt she had a good handle on her mental health. "I'm looking forward to the sunshine more. I get a bit gloomy when it's gloomy. But I'm looking forward to the sun, my kids are doing great at school. I am very happy; we live a blessed life," Zeta-Jonas said. 

That's a remarkable turnaround time to bounce back from three major life events that each on their own had the power to drive a permanently damaging wedge in a marriage.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

The married pair don't share a bathroom

If you thought all of that tongue cancer and oral sex stuff was scandalous, well strap in, because here comes the real shocker — Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones don't share a bathroom! Alright, so maybe it isn't the strangest thing about their marriage, but this is definitely odd, right?

In a 2006 interview with the Daily Mail (via Closer Weekly), Zeta-Jones said, "Separate bathrooms is always a really great idea. Mine is so messy. I'd hate for my husband to realize just how incredibly cluttery I can be." Look, we totally get not wanting to be in the room when a significant other is doing their throne business, but maintaining entirely different rooms is arguably a little much. Zeta-Jones gave some more insight in an interview with The Telegraph: "We spend a hell of a lot of time together, so we are careful to maintain our space. We recently had an extension built, to house a closet. It's like the Tardis — I go in there and never come out. My husband knocks on the door and says, 'Can I come in?' But I've got a TV in there, and my daughter brings her friends in — they play shop, put on all my stuff. I could be in there for the whole day, happily." 

At this point, normal married couples who don't even have a double vanity, and who share a living room and television with children, should be rolling their eyes so hard they're falling out of chairs.

They lived in paradise for a while

Even though Hollywood is the paparazzi capital of the U.S., at lot of celebrities feel like they have to live there to be available for work. While some get away with retreating to the less tabloid-crazed New York City, the true A-listers leave the country completely.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are definitely part of that crowd, and they expatriated in 2002, choosing instead to raise their children on a little slice of paradise. The couple called Bermuda home until 2009, having completely renovated a four-bedroom cottage to include guest quarters and custom interior work by London designer, Stephen Ryan, according to Architectural Digest. They eventually had to return stateside to be closer for work, but Douglas' family ties — his mother's family dates its lineage in Bermuda to the early 1600s — and their own love of the island has kept them coming back. Not only do they still own the "cottage," which they now rent out for $28,000 a month, but they're also investors in the Ariel Sands Cottage Colony Hotel, which is set to open in 2024.

We realize that rich people dashing off to the Caribbean may not exactly come across as strange, but actually moving there isn't that common, even in their crowd. Choosing to dabble in real estate development when you don't need the money or the headache that comes along with that sort of things is also a bit surprising. We've all seen those house-flipping shows on HGTV, right? No thanks.

They once shared a home with Michael Douglas' ex-wife

Things can get messy when an ex is involved — and that's exactly what led to the uncomfortable living arrangement Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones endured in Mallorca for two decades. The pair shared a home with Douglas' ex-wife, film producer Diandra Luker. Think of it as a very awkward luxury timeshare.

According to local Mallorcan newspaper Ultima Hora (translated by the Independent), Douglas and Luker agreed to share their 250-acre estate, dubbed S'Estaca, when they divorced in 2000. They reportedly "arranged a six months on-and-off agreement." To make things even more uncomfortable, that was the same year Douglas married Zeta-Jones and the pair had their first child together. Just imagine sharing a space with your ex and the entirely new family he seemingly obtained with the snap of a finger. Awkward.

This bizarre arrangement, which Douglas admitted wasn't necessarily ideal, lasted for 20 years until he finally bought Luker out of her share in 2020. "It was very uncomfortable sharing the property with my ex-wife Diandra," he told Ultima Hora (via the Independent). "Six months for each of us wasn't very pleasant for anyone." Now that the villa is all his, Douglas admitted that Zeta-Jones "feels much more comfortable." Who wouldn't?

Who waits 20 years to see their wedding photos?

When Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas tied the knot in 2000 at New York's Plaza Hotel, it was one of the largest celebrity weddings of the era. Photos from the event were so sought after that they even sparked a tabloid lawsuit. According to The Guardian, OK! exclusively purchased rights to the official wedding snaps, but the event was infiltrated by paparazzi. Their tabloid rival, Hello!, somehow managed to obtain these "sneak photographs," voiding their investment, and igniting a battle of the exclamation points. According to the Daily Mail, Hello! ended up paying more than £1 million after duking it out in High Court.

At the time, Zeta-Jones lambasted the paparazzi shots as "sleazy and unflattering" — but the weird part was she didn't actually see her official wedding photos for years. In 2020, she allegedly told the Daily Mail, "I looked at the proofs and that was it — I never made an album. The photographer got in touch recently, so about three weeks ago I got to see all my wedding photographs. It was a wonderful day."

Where most couples wait two minutes, the actor somehow waited two decades.