Happy Birthday Catherine Zeta-Jones

City Connect celebrates the birthday of Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones who recently separated from husband Michael Douglas who was born on the same day as her and is 25 years her senior. Catherine Zeta-Jones has announced she has Bipolar II Disorder and sought treatment for the condition in April 2011, checking herself into a mental health facility in Connecticut. Read our article about her brave announcement here. For more about Catherine’s life and work, read her biography below.

Biography

Catherine Zeta-Jones CBE (born 25 September 1969) is a Welsh actress. She began her career on stage at an early age. After starring in a number of UK and US television programmes and small roles in films, she came to prominence with roles in Hollywood movies an won an Oscar for her role as Velma Kelly in the 2002 film adaptation of the musical Chicago.

Her role as Mariette in the successful British television adaptation of H. E. Bates’ The Darling Buds of May brought her to public attention and made her a British tabloid darling. She briefly flirted with a musical career. In 1990, Zeta-Jones participated in a television commercial for the German Deutsche Bahn at the age of 21, playing the part of a young woman eloping with her lover from a joyless marriage, a role which apparently helped in promoting her acting career. She continued to find moderate success with a number of television projects, including The Return of the Native (1994) based on the novel of the same name and the mini-series Catherine the Great (1995). She also appeared in Splitting Heirs (1993), a comedy starring Eric Idle, Rick Moranis and John Cleese. In 1996, she was cast as the evil aviatrix Sala in the action film, The Phantom, based on the comic by Lee Falk. The following year, she co-starred in the CBS mini-series Titanic.

Career success, 1998–2003

Steven Spielberg, who noted her performance in the mini-series Titanic, recommended her to Martin Campbell, the director of The Mask of Zorro. Zeta-Jones subsequently landed a lead role in the film, alongside compatriot Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. She learned dancing, riding, sword-fighting and took part in dialect classes to play her role as Elena. Commenting on her performance, Variety noted, “Zeta-Jones is bewitchingly lovely as the center of everyone’s attention, and she throws herself into the often physical demands of her role with impressive grace.” She won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Female Newcomer and received an Empire Award nomination for Best British Actress and a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress.

In 1999, she co-starred with Sean Connery in the film Entrapment, and alongside Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor in The Haunting. The following year, she starred in the critically acclaimed Traffic with future husband Michael Douglas. Traffic earned praise from the press, with the critic for the Dallas Observer calling the movie “a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a beautiful and brutal work”. Zeta-Jones’ performance earned her her first Golden Globe nomination, as Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture as well as many other nominations and acclaim.

She took the lead role of America’s Sweethearts, a 2001 romantic comedy film which also starred Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal and John Cusack. The film received unfavorable reviews, with Los Angeles Weekly stating that the film “isn’t just banal, it’s aggressively, arrogantly banal.” However, it was a hit at the box office grossing over $138 million worldwide. Her character in the film was Gwen Harrison who is a film star.

In 2002, Zeta-Jones continued her momentum and played murderous vaudevillian Velma Kelly in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago. Her performance was well received by critics. Chicago was a commercial success, grossing more than $306 million worldwide, and received universal acclaim. In 2003, Zeta-Jones garnered an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance. Also that year, she starred as serial divorcee Marilyn Rexroth in the black comedy Intolerable Cruelty with George Clooney.

2004–present

In 2004, she played air hostess Amelia Warren in The Terminal as well as Europol agent Isabel Lahiri in Ocean’s Twelve, the sequel to Ocean’s Eleven. She and the cast members were nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast. In 2005, she reprised her role as Elena in The Legend of Zorro, the sequel to The Mask of Zorro. The film grossed over $142 million worldwide.

In 2007, she starred opposite Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin in the American romantic comedy drama No Reservations. The film garnered mixed or average reviews but was successful commercially, grossing $92 million worldwide.

In 2008, Zeta-Jones starred alongside Guy Pearce and Saoirse Ronan in Death Defying Acts, a biopic about legendary escapologist Harry Houdini at the height of his career in the 1920s. In 2009, Zeta-Jones starred in romantic comedy The Rebound, in which she played a 40-year old mother of two who falls in love with a younger man, played by Justin Bartha.

In August 2009, it was announced she would return to her musical roots and make her Broadway debut in the revival of A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury, beginning December 2009. For her performance, Zeta-Jones received an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, as well as a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

In 2012, she featured in Stephen Frears’ Lay the Favorite starring Bruce Willis, which premièred at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. In 2012, she also appeared in Playing for Keeps with Gerard Butler and Rock of Ages, alongside Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin. Her 2013 projects included Broken City and Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, the latter being their third collaboration.

Apart from her acting career, Zeta-Jones is also an advertising spokeswoman, currently the global spokeswoman for cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. She has appeared in numerous TV commercials for the phone company T-Mobile, and one for Alfa Romeo. She is also the spokeswoman for Di Modolo jewellery. Zeta-Jones was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

Personal life

Zeta-Jones met actor Michael Douglas, who shares the same birthday as her, and is exactly 25 years her senior, at the Deauville Film Festival in France in August 1998, after being introduced by Danny DeVito. They began dating in March 1999, even though Douglas was still married. Zeta-Jones claims that when they met, he used the line “I’d like to father your children.” They became engaged on 31 December 1999, and were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on 18 November 2000, just weeks after Douglas’ divorce was finalized. A traditional Welsh choir (Côr Cymraeg Rehoboth) sang at their wedding. Her Welsh gold wedding ring includes a Celtic motif and was purchased in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. They have two children. Their son, Dylan Michael Douglas (named after Dylan Thomas), was born on 8 August 2000, with Zeta Jones’ pregnancy incorporated into her role in Traffic. Their daughter, Carys Zeta Douglas, was born on 20 April 2003. The family currently lives in New York City.

In August 2013, People claimed that Douglas and Zeta-Jones began living separately in May 2013, but have not taken any legal action towards separation or divorce. A representative for Zeta-Jones subsequently confirmed that they “are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage.”

In April 2011, Zeta-Jones sought treatment for Bipolar II Disorder, checking herself into Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. Zeta-Jones “proactively” checked into a health care facility again in April 2013 for further treatment related to her bipolar disorder.

Image reproduced from The Guardian: Chris Pizzello/AP
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Bipolar Disorder Hits the Headlines

Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest celebrity to hit the headlines as a sufferer of Bipolar Disorder. Earlier this month, her publicist announced that the Oscar winning actress made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat Ms Zeta-Jones’ Bipolar II Disorder after dealing with the stress of the past year.

Catherine Zeta-Jones has been praised by mental health charities for the bravery of her openness about suffering from Bipolar Disorder – especially as there is unfortunately still stigma and misunderstanding about the condition and mental illness in general. One only needs to look at the derogatory comments on Twitter and Facebook in reaction to this news for an example of the way mental illness is treated by some members of the public.

Mental health professionals have a much better understanding of Bipolar Disorder these days than 20 years ago. This is reflected by the fact that Manic Depression, the old name for Bipolar Disorder, is no longer used by psychiatrists because every sufferer of this condition does not necessarily experience manic AND depressive episodes. Catherine Zeta-Jones for example has a diagnosis which means she would mainly suffer from periods of depression and may only have rare or occasional mild manic episodes. In fact, there is now discussion about a Bipolar Spectrum which covers every variation of this condition from its mildest forms to the most extreme cases. You can find out more information about Bipolar Disorder, its symptoms and treatment on the NHS Choices website.

Approximately 1 in every 100 people will suffer from symptoms of Bipolar Disorder at some point in their life. The condition has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In recent times, more and more people in the public eye have talked about their diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and there are also historical figures who are believed to have been affected by the condition. Below are the names of some famous Bipolar sufferers from the past and present:

  • Adam Ant – singer
  • Russell Brand – comedian & actor
  • Frank Bruno – boxer
  • Stephen Fry – actor, comedian & writer
  • Mel Gibson – actor & director
  • Macy Gray – singer
  • Ernest Hemingway – writer
  • Nina Simone – singer
  • Vincent Van Gogh – artist
  • Virginia Woolf – writer

As you can see from the list of names, many Bipolar sufferers are creative individuals who have had successful careers or been blessed by incredible talent. As these famous names demonstrate, although Bipolar Disorder can make individuals vunerable and fragile, it is not always the case that someone who is affected by the condition cannot achieve their ambitions and dreams.

There are a number of charities out there that raise awareness about Bipolar Disorder and support those affected by the condition. Most notable are MDF, Equilibrium and Rethink. Other mental health charities include Mind and SANE. Check out their websites for more information and how to make a donation, if you so wish.

Image reproduced from The Guardian: Chris Pizzello/AP