The Untold Truth Of Catherine Zeta-Jones

Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of Hollywood's most glamorous and graceful celebrities, one who blends talent with an indisputable natural charisma and a beauty that is almost otherworldly. She started her career on the stage before catapulting to fame on the British series, "The Darling Buds of May," after which she came to America to get her career started stateside. Zeta-Jones's film career took off after "The Mask of Zorro," and she went on to appear with huge names in films like "Entrapment," "Traffic," and "America's Sweethearts." 

Though she does not work as often as some of her contemporaries, Zeta-Jones has continued to make interesting choices over the years, which have included her Oscar-winning role in "Chicago" and her Tony-winning role in "A Little Night Music." If that's not all, she's also snagged the iconic role of Morticia Addams in the Netflix series, "Wednesday."

As far as mega-celebrities go, Catherine Zeta-Jones is somewhat less of a tabloid-fixture than others. We know a lot about the famous actor, her marriage to the equally famous Michael Douglas, and her career, but Zeta-Jones has always kept certain details about her life under wraps. And while she will talk about the tough stuff in interviews, she is certainly not flashing every aspect of her personal life on social media. No worries, because we have collected all of the crumbs and have found the most interesting aspects of Zeta-Jones' upbringing, career, and personal life. Here is the untold truth of Catherine Zeta-Jones.

She grew up far from Hollywood but was always a performer

Though she married into a Hollywood family, Catherine Zeta-Jones's own upbringing took place far from the glitz and glamor of Tinseltown. The actor was born in Swansea, Wales, into a working-class family headed by a candy factory owner and a seamstress (via The New Yorker). "Even though I've lived Stateside for 24 years, I still say Wales is my home," Zeta-Jones told Homes & Gardens in 2021. "My mother loved soft furnishings, and I think that's where I got my passion for interior design. I remember the smell of the coziness of home, lots of family around, and lots of beautiful fabrics everywhere."

According to an interview with The New Yorker, Zeta-Jones spent her earliest years idolizing Elizabeth Taylor — whose then-husband Richard Burton was Welsh — and dreaming of life as a performer. She began tap dancing at age five, and that set the stage for her future in musicals. "I was very excitable and kind of, I don't know, performy, as a child. I wasn't shy. As I got older, I got shy. But when I was young I was fearless," Zeta-Jones recalled in the article. Little could she have known that she would join Burton and Sir Anthony Hopkins to become one of the biggest names ever to come from her home country.

She got her start in musicals at age nine

Given that many of her early film roles were in action flicks like "The Mask of Zorro" and "Entrapment," American audiences were, for a long time, privy to only a small sliver of Catherine Zeta-Jones' talents. In addition to singing and dancing, Zeta-Jones also plays the piano (which she has shown off on social media). She eventually got to show off the full array of what she could do, even earning an Oscar for her performance in the musical "Chicago." But that was far from Zeta-Jones' first experience with musicals, as stage musicals are where she got her start at the tender age of nine. It was then that she got her first taste of professional theater when she was cast in "Annie" in London's West End (per The New Yorker).

After "Annie," Zeta-Jones auditioned for and was cast in "Bugsy Malone," and by then, there were no nannies or chaperones, which means she was alone in London at age 13. But it was acting that she dreamed about and, once she moved to the screen, Zeta-Jones assumed the musical part of her career was done. "When I was a teenager, I hung up my dance shoes, thinking I would never ever ever have to call upon that. What a waste of all my tap dancing!," she said in a Playbill interview. In addition to her Oscar-winning role in "Chicago," Zeta-Jones also drew upon these skills in 2010, winning a Tony Award for her work in "A Little Night Music."

She dropped out of school at 15

Because of her stage career in London, Catherine Zeta-Jones left school before completing her high school diploma. She had already appeared in multiple musicals, and Wales simply could not provide what she wanted at the time, which was to get her equity card. "As much as I love my country—and nobody loves my country as much as me, you know how patriotic I am—I knew I couldn't do what I needed to do there," she told The New Yorker. "And my parents said that to my headmaster when I left school, at fifteen, to go and do a touring production to get my Equity card. I kept saying, "I'll come back to school, I promise. But if I can get my Equity card, it's like the golden ticket in 'Willy Wonka.'"

Once she left school, she quickly found work in "The Pajama Game," where she was in the chorus. This is the show that earned Zeta-Jones her prized equity card, per The New Yorker. She then went on to appear in "42nd Street," where she was also in the chorus (via Playbill). She left the stage toward the end of her teens to pursue work in film and TV. Her first screen role was in "Les 1001 Nuits," but it was the television series "The Darling Buds of May" that turned her into a major star in the United Kingdom. Zeta-Jones appeared on the program from 1991 to 1993.

She came to America to escape British tabloids

"The Darling Buds of May" changed Catherine Zeta-Jones' life in a big way, launching her nearly overnight. She told The New Yorker that, while she had desired a break like the show, she was unprepared for the attention that came with stardom. "I never went on the Tube anymore or the bus. Walking out of my house on the streets of London, I'd get barraged. Or, even scarier, was coming home at night and trying to get into my door," she said. "Be careful what you wish for. I craved a break like that. I craved it. And, when it came, it was really terrifying." The overwhelming attention and the intensity of the British tabloids is why Zeta-Jones decided to make a break for the United States.

Per Bustle, Zeta-Jones made her way to Los Angeles in 1997, on a temporary work visa she received for a single scene in a Universal Studios Project. Being in the US allowed her to start to audition there, and to establish connections in Hollywood. She began to hang out with other foreign actors, like Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek, and quickly booked her breakout role, Elena in "The Mask of Zorro." "Moving to the States and meeting new people and learning how to drive at the other side of the road and renting my own little apartment and getting an agent — it was all new," she told Bustle. "It was humbling to be all of a sudden unknown again, just turning up and auditioning for things."

She is very athletic and has fun with her exercise routine

The pressures to stay thin and fit are high in Hollywood, but that does not seem to be what drives Catherine Zeta-Jones in her exercise routine. Instead, she draws upon her natural athleticism and chooses to engage in activities that make her happy. Zeta-Jones loves to ski, for instance, and she has been known to incorporate her talents as a dancer into her workouts. "I have my dancing. I'm lucky that I have a bit of a muscle memory, so once my body gets back in motion it seems to remember," she said in an interview with Good Housekeeping. "Being active and on my feet is much healthier for my psyche. I really feel it's healthy for a body to sweat every day."

Beyond dancing, Zeta-Jones has a vast array of activities in her routine, from the typical — like using the treadmill — to those you have probably never considered, like weighted hula hooping. She also loves to play sports, like tennis, and works out in her home gym, which has a ballet barre, a Peloton, and more (via W magazine). Finally, she also likes water sports, and has posted numerous Instagram videos of her doing this like swimming and kayaking. "If I become a little lethargic or lax in the physical part of my life, I get stressed. So I swim," she once told The Telegraph. "I have one of those pools where I can swim against the tide."

She thought Michael Douglas wanted to meet her about business

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have been married for decades and, though they have faced some hurdles, remain deeply in love with one another. The pair first met when Zeta-Jones was promoting "The Mask of Zorro" and Douglas was promoting "A Perfect Murder." Douglas reached out to meet, but Zeta-Jones assumed it was a professional connection he was after. "I genuinely thought that because I was in work mode and I was going to a film festival, and that's where film deals are made," she told Bustle. "And people get introduced and things like that. Schmoozing, whatever you want to call it. And I thought he wanted to meet me for a job. So I never thought, 'Oh my God, he wants to date me.'"

Zeta-Jones claims that Douglas said he "wanted to father" her kids that night, but they did not officially start dating for a while. He sent her flowers, and they talked on the phone for about a year before taking the step to coupledom (via Bustle). They married in 2000, briefly split in 2013, but reconciled and have weathered everything from Douglas' cancer to a #MeToo allegation. Despite Zeta-Jones and Douglas' 25-year age gap – to the day, as they share the same birthday! – the pair have proven that true love can persevere, even in Hollywood.

She lives an extravagant lifestyle

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Catherine Zeta-Jones is worth $150 million, while her husband Michael Douglas is worth $350 million. Unsurprisingly, the duo lives a rather extravagant lifestyle that puts much of that wealth on display. They have many homes, including a lavish Central Park West apartment, which has a library that Zeta-Jones has called her favorite room. "It is a British-style wood-paneled 1920s library with a spiral staircase," she told Homes & Gardens. "I've collected British female portraiture from an auction, eBay, and a Welsh estate. There is a big old fireplace, mid-century furniture to mix the old with the new, and my Oscar for Chicago on the mantel, so when I get insecure, I can say. 'It's alright; it's alright!' "

The couple also has a mansion in Westchester County, north of New York City, as well as houses in Swansea, Wales, and Mallorca, Spain. Per Hello! magazine, their 10-bedroom Spanish home is 11,000 square feet and has everything from a home theater to a personal vineyard. It is not just real estate that Zeta-Jones and Douglas spend their money on, either. Take her engagement ring, which has a vintage diamond "inspired by the lips of King Louis XV of France's lover, Madame de Pompadour" and is worth around $442,000 (per Hello! magazine). Zeta-Jones also seemingly spends a lot on fashion, as she has showcased on Instagram in a tour of her massive walk-in closet, itself bigger than many apartments.

She has felt pigeonholed because of her beauty

It is tough to feel pity for those complaining about their beauty, so we won't judge you if you roll your eyes at the idea that Catherine Zeta-Jones thinks her beauty caused her to be typecast early in her career. That said, her concerns are more about the perception of her being amongst the "most beautiful" rather than her own belief that she actually is. In fact, Zeta-Jones has expressed a disagreement with the attention that has been afforded to her looks. "When I read a script and the character's description has the prefix of 'beautiful, stunning, gorgeous', it's always intimidating," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. "Personally, I would never consider myself a great beauty but my mother always told me to make the best of myself."

Even if she herself does not consider her looks exceptional, Hollywood did, and Zeta-Jones' early years were spent in films that centered on her attractiveness and sex appeal. Movies like "Entrapment," "America's Sweethearts," and "Intolerable Cruelty" focused more on her looks than anything else, and that was not lost on Zeta-Jones. "In my career, there has always been a kind of beauty aspect to it," she told The Sydney Morning Herald. "I was pigeonholed for so many years as being a musical-comedy actress. I always wanted to be cast in one of Helena Bonham Carter's roles in those period dramas. I dreamed of that, but it never really came my way."

She has a lifestyle brand

Are you even a big-name celebrity today if you don't have at least one non-acting venture? Like so many others, Catherine Zeta-Jones has established herself as a lifestyle guru and businesswoman. And while she is not quite at the Kate Hudson or Gwyneth Paltrow level, Zeta-Jones has built a decent following for her Casa Zeta-Jones lifestyle brand. The company sells everything from activewear to footwear to coffee. "At this point in my life, I really enjoy having the time to work on my brand and I'm hands-on. I would be making things anyway," she told The Sunday Morning Herald. In a People article, Zeta-Jones discussed working on her beauty line, where she detailed her involvement in all parts of the process including idea generation, formula creation, testing, and packaging.

Makeup and home décor are two big parts of the Casa Zeta-Jones brand. Zeta-Jones sells her home products — including bedding, décor, and holiday items — on, and her makeup and beauty products on "My goal with this whole lifestyle brand was to make all of the things I love, all of my favorites that I use myself and that I've worked on myself — as opposed to being the talking head of something, which, don't get me wrong, is also fabulous," she said in an interview with New Beauty. "It's really, really special when you start creating things from the grassroots up and see them materialize. It's a lot of fun."

She values her privacy and the privacy of her family

For a celebrity couple of their stature, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas keep a relatively low profile. This is because privacy is important for Zeta-Jones, who craves the comforts of home and the companionship of family above all else. In an interview with New Beauty, she distinguishes between "Catherine Zeta-Jones" and "Cath," her everyday self. "Cath is the woman who is curled up on the couch with her family. Not everyone knows her, and that's Okay. I'm a very private person," she said. "I'm just not that person you're going to see posting my bathroom breaks and photos with my husband in the hot tub on social media."

Protecting her children from the lens of the paparazzi and the judgmental eyes of the public was so important to Zeta-Jones and Douglas that they even moved out of the country during their kids' formative years. "When we had our kids, and then it got really tricky living in the city, in that it'd become very exposed for them," Zeta-Jones told The New Yorker. "We used to take our daughter on the subway, and it just got me concerned—there were people following us with the cameras on the subway and stuff." The family chose Bermuda as their new residence, partly because Douglas's mother was from there, and lived there full-time for 12 years. According to an article in The Sunday Morning Herald, Zeta-Jones and Douglas moved so their kids could have a "normal childhood," which included always having one parent at home.

Both her kids want to join the family business

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have two children – son Dylan Michael Douglas  and daughter Carys Zeta Douglas, who is 19 (Michael also has an older son, Cameron, from a previous marriage). Though both of them have expressed an interest in joining the family business, Zeta-Jones and Douglas made it a point to shield their kids from the limelight as they were growing up. "I'm very conscious of my kids being very rooted, very down to earth, and I'm always big on manners," Zeta-Jones told The Sunday Morning Herald in 2021. "I get complimented on how unaffected they are and that's because they weren't brought up in Hollywood. We managed to retain some of their childhood longer than other folk."

Despite their un-Hollywood upbringing in Bermuda, both Dylan and Carys have made it clear they want to act in the future. In a 2018 interview with The Mirror, Zeta-Jones explained that her kids valued the craft of acting, not the pursuit of celebrity. "It's not about fame for them. They've been brought up around famous people. They know what that is like," she admitted. "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." Dylan graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, so time will tell if his next chapter includes acting (via Page Six).

She is a fan of massage, meditation, and the spa

Self-care is key to looking and feeling one's best, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is no stranger to this concept. She very much treats her body as a temple, which includes drinking a lot of water, abstaining from alcohol, and eating healthfully (per W magazine). Beyond those basics, the actor is also a big believer in yoga and meditation, and she sees these things as just as valuable as taking care of her outer appearance. "I've always been a potions and lotions fanatic," she told New Beauty, before admitting, "I like to keep my body and my mind as refreshed — clean inside and out." She lists long walks and decluttering as other exercises that help her feel clear-headed.

The spa is also central to Zeta-Jones's overall approach to health and beauty. Per W magazine, her favorite spa is in Montecatini, Italy, and it has natural hot cave saunas, amongst other features. COVID-19 was especially hard for the spa-fanatic, who had to stay away from her beloved massages, reflexology, and facial peels. "I'm missing my massages to the point where I would sell my arm for one," she said in March 2021 (to New Beauty). "I could spend all vacation in a spa, going from a body treatment to a face treatment to whatever else they have on the menu. I really could. I just love it. It makes me feel good."

Working with Michael Sheen was on her bucket list

There are not a ton of big celebrities who hail from Wales, but the ones that do are stellar. In addition to Catherine Zeta-Jones, other famous Welsh actors include Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Rhys, Iwan Rheon, and Michael Sheen. It is such a small circle that Hopkins even directed Zeta-Jones in a play when she was a youth, before they appeared together in "The Mask of Zorro" (per The New Yorker).

Sheen is another standout actor that Zeta-Jones had long wanted to work with, but she only got the chance in 2021 — despite their connections. "We come from the same hometown, which is a tiny little gorgeous ripe pimple on a spot on the world called Swansea, South Wales. And we were in different drama theater groups. We weren't in the same school together, but our parents know each other socially, and we (had) never met or worked together," she told The Playlist. It is the reason that Zeta-Jones accepted a role on "Prodigal Son," where she played Dr. Vivian Capshaw opposite Sheen's serial killer character, Dr. Martin Whitley.

Zeta-Jones still has many people on her list of dream collaborations. She told Variety that she longs to work with people like Meryl Streep and Dame Helen Mirren. "I'm usually the woman cast opposite the man," she said in the interview. "There are so many great actors, women that I want to work with. And I want to be in stories that see a woman's dynamic together."

It was not her choice to speak about her mental health struggles

While it has become more common for celebrities to discuss their mental health in public in recent years, there still exists plenty of stigma surrounding certain disorders. For Catherine Zeta-Jones, being open about her bipolar II disorder was never a choice, as she was all but forced to make a statement after being spotted in a treatment center. "Catherine's being quite open about it because she was outed, you know," husband Michael Douglas said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey (via HLN). "She went to go get some help and some other patient probably in there said, 'Hey, you won't believe who's in here now.' And, so, once that happens, I think she felt [it] best to kind of get out the story."

After the news broke in 2011, Zeta-Jones graced the cover of People magazine, where she said, through a statement, that she sought to decrease the stigma and shame surrounding the disorder. In the years since, many high-profile celebrities — including Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, and Kanye West – have disclosed their own bipolar diagnoses. Though she went back to an in-patient treatment center in 2013, Zeta-Jones has said that her diagnosis was a turning point in her life. "Finding out that it was called something was the best thing that ever happened to me! The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating," she admitted to Good Housekeeping in 2016.

If you or someone you know needs help 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.