Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are some of Hollywood’s most powerful couples even though they have a 25 year age gap that some people consider inappropriate. The two love each other regardless of what people think.
Actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have faced a lot of backlashes over the years for their controversial relationship regarding their age difference.
Zeta-Jones especially has been labeled a "gold digger" for marrying Hollywood's leading man, but irrespective of the public scrutiny, the pair seem to be going strong.
(L) Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas attend the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (R) Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas attend the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images
FESTIVAL MEETUP, AGE GAP & WEDDING
In 1997, Zeta-Jones, then 28, sold her London home and uprooted to the US for work purposes. At the time, she had been granted a six-month work visa for a single scene of work at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
She was already famous in the UK for playing Mariette on the hit series “The Darling Buds of May.” Not long after she settled in, she bagged another acting gig and her stay prolonged to a year.
Michael Douglas and his wife actress Catherine Zeta-Jones attend the Christopher Reeve Foundation's "A Magical Evening" at the Marriott Marquis Hotel November 17, 2005 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
The Welsh actress was cast in the classic film "The Mask of Zorro" and later met her future husband, Douglas. Speaking on what that year meant for her, Zeta-Jones shared:
“If my daughter says, ‘What was your favorite year?’ I always say 28. I was my own woman. I was independent. I was financially independent. I was emotionally independent. I was fearless in new adventures.”
The couple has one of the most enduring marriages in Hollywood, which has been faced with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.
That year was life-changing for her because the movie gave her recognition, and "a lot of things happened that are synonymous with what turned out to be my life today."
After "Zorro" came out, Douglas wanted to meet her; he was already an established actor during that period as well as a producer.
Zeta-Jones and the five-time Golden Globe award winner crossed paths at a film festival where he was promoting “A Perfect Murder” and she “Zorro.”
Zeta-Jones told Bustle in May 2021 that she thought he wanted to meet her for work because of his credentials, including the fact that the event was for networking:
“I never thought, ‘Oh my God, he wants to date me.’”
Tony Hopkins invited Douglas for dinner before the premiere, and within hours of meeting Zeta-Jones, “he told me he wanted to father my children. So, I presumed this was not for a job,” she explained.
When asked if she thought Douglas was serious, the 52-year-old recalled: “I did say to him, ‘I’ve heard a lot about you, I’ve read a lot about you, and it’s all true. Goodnight.’”
Despite being blown off by his future wife, Douglas continued wooing the Hollywood starlet and even sent her flowers in Scotland. They began communicating for a year over the phone.
For a year, whenever she was in New York or Douglas in Los Angeles, they would have dinner, and their relations developed into friendship. “And then it all took off one summer, and then that was it. Twenty years later, here we are,” said Zeta-Jones.
One of the most controversial things about the pair is their age difference, which is not an issue for them; Douglas is 25 years his wife's senior. Zeta-Jones once said: “Historically, older men and younger women have been together."
She revealed that when her mother told her about men and facts of life, she never mentioned an age bracket, adding her parents are the same age as her spouse.
“So, my parents, whenever they see us together, never even question that there was a 25-year-age difference,” said the humanitarian. The duo also shares the same birthday.
Douglas and Zeta-Jones wed in November 2000 under a wedding veil of secrecy. They had a lavish bash at New York’s Plaza Hotel witnessed by 1,000 onlookers gathered to spot celebrities arriving.
However, the newlyweds were not in plain sight as they were already holed up in the hotel where the wedding party had taken over 130 rooms. It was reportedly a secret ceremony to avoid jeopardizing an exclusive picture deal with a celebrity magazine.
The star-studded ceremony reportedly cost $2 million, making it one of the most expensive weddings in Hollywood. Additionally, the bride's gown cost a whopping $250,000. Goldie Hawn, Art Garfunkel, Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, and Anthony Hopkins attended.
EXPENSIVE PRENUP & ‘GOLD-DIGGER' ALLEGATIONS
The first month into their marital bliss, Zeta-Jones got crucified by the media and was called a “gold-digger” following allegations that she waged a legal war with Douglas, a multimillionaire, over their prenuptial agreement.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the brunette beauty got stunned by claims that she was after her husband's $150 million fortune, saying the speculations rubbed her the wrong way:
“The thing that upset me was the idea that I was a gold-digger. But there are gold-digging women out there, and in a divorce, everyone turns green, and it's 'Sue, the man!' Money can create such hate."
Zeta-Jones, then 31, shared she did not think twice about signing the agreement prepared by their lawyers and boldly stated why she went for it:
“Why should Michael be in a position where half of his fortune, which he’s worked hard for, should land in someone else’s lap?”
She assured the magazine that negotiations were not in bad taste stating, “it was like ‘Thank God that’s done… let’s get on with it.’ It was signed and put in the bottom of a drawer, hopefully never to be seen again.”
However, if things pan out differently, Zeta-Jones said she would not be using money to fight the battle because "I get taken care of very well."
While at it, she clapped back at people alleging that she is a gold-digger, stating she was financially independent, which was to the betterment of their relationship:
“I’m lucky. I have my own money. I’m self-sufficient, and I think it’s good for our relationship. I’ve never had a cent from any guy, and I’m proud of that.”
Before the nuptials, reports revealed the “Basic Instinct” star had offered his bride-to-be $1.4 million per year for alimony. Still, Zeta-Jones insisted on three times the amount, with a compromise agreement reaching $2.8 million.
Without giving away exactly how much they settled on, she explained the process revealing there were no arguments, and no nasty feud:
"If I were marrying someone of lesser fortune who was 25 years, I'd be doing the same thing. I think prenups are brilliant because it’s all sorted out.”
In addition to the legal agreement, rumors were swirling around of a “cheating clause” which would pay Zeta-Jones an additional lump sum if Douglas strayed outside of their marriageThe twosome made the mutual agreement after all Douglas’ first marriage to film producer, Diandra Luker, ended in one of the largest divorce settlements in Hollywood history.
The pair wed in 1977 but filed for divorce in 1995, which was finalized in 2000. Moreover, there were speculations about infidelity.
When Douglas went to rehab in 1992 for substance abuse, people widely believed he was also there for sex addiction treatment, which he later denied.
According to biographer John Parker, per Huffington Post, while in group therapy the “Fatal Attraction,” star allegedly admitted:
"Sex is just a wave that sweeps over me, an overpowering impulse. I'm helpless. Every time."
THEIR BLENDED FAMILY
Meanwhile, as partners in a solid marriage, Douglas and Zeta-Jones credit their relationship’s longevity to good communication and never taking anything seriously.
Today, the two have a blended family and have three kids together. Douglas became a dad for the first time in December 1978 when he welcomed his eldest son Cameron with his former wife, Luker. Cameron, 43, followed in his dad's footsteps and pursued an acting career at a young age.
Per IMDb, he has appeared in several TV shows and movies since he began his career and is known for “Wonder Boys,” “It Runs in the Family,” and “Loaded.”
Douglas expanded his family when he and the “Entrapment” star welcomed their first child together, son Dylan in August 2000. The teen was named after a famous poet.
“I named my son after Dylan Thomas, who came from my hometown,” said Zeta-Jones. Although the couple is famous, their brood did not grow up in the limelight.
Still, even though they tried to keep them away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, Dylan took after them and is pursuing an acting career. The 21-year-old loves traveling and spending time with family.
Zeta-Jones and Douglas' youngest child is Carys, who arrived in April 2003. She weighed six pounds, 12 ounces at birth on early Easter morning.
According to the BBC, Carys is a traditional Welsh girl's name derived from the Welsh word caru, meaning “love.” Zeta-Jones is said to be proud of her Welsh roots.
Although her daughter is a teenager, the youngster is already pursuing a career in showbiz like her family. Besides being interested in acting, the 19-year-old also loves singing and fashion. The proud mother of two gushed over her kids once in an interview with Today:
"I've got two great teenagers, and I love them. I'm excited to see which way they will go, their journey. I'm so excited, and of course, they both love the arts, and they both play music.”
The Manhattan-based family has a second home in Bermuda on an island retreat that hosts relatives from each side of Zeta-Jones and Douglas' families. It consists of an English-style four-bedroom cottage built in the 1950s.
DOUGLAS’ CANCER BATTLE & WIFE’S SUPPORT
The couple has one of the most enduring marriages in Hollywood, which has been faced with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.
Douglas was first diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which led him to undergo seven weeks of treatment, including chemotherapy. His wife opened up about his battle against the disease in 2014, sharing:
“I was a mess. I’ll be quite frank; I was a mess. When I'm married to a man who has such a conviction for life…he fights to make the wrongs right. For the first time, he was fighting for his life.”
Douglas became cancer-free in 2011 and had a walnut-sized tumor removed from the back of his tongue after initially being misdiagnosed as throat cancer at stage four, an advanced stage.
Zeta-Jones was rather upset by the doctors for not detecting the disease sooner. The legendary star said he spent months seeking attention for persistent throat and ear pain only to be told nothing was wrong.
“It makes me furious they didn’t detect it earlier. He sought every option, with nothing found, she said. As a supportive wife, Zeta-Jones could not bear to see her husband undergoing chemo and radiation and losing his strengths while battling cancer.
"I know maybe I should be stronger, but emotionally I just don't want to see that," she said, adding: "The hardest part is seeing his fatigue because Michael is never tired."
Following the diagnosis, Douglas later caused a stir when he alleged that his cancer resulted from oral sex during an interview with The Guardian.
In 2013, the now 77-year-old revealed that his illness resulted from contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), which experts believe can be brought on by cunnilingus. Douglas said he regretted making those comments:
“It was one of those things…and I so regretted any embarrassment that it caused Catherine and her family.”
FUN SOLID MARRIAGE WITH LAUGHTER
After 22 years of marriage, Zeta-Jones and Douglas are still in love and pack up on affection, such as holding hands and gazing at each other with love and devotion in public.
In an interview with WSJ Magazine, the mom of two shared the secret to their long-lasting union: having lots of fun together, constant love and respect, and preserving the humor while enjoying each other's company.
In attendance at a wedding in 2018, Zeta-Jones posted a snap posing with her love and captioned it: "Waiting for the bride!" In March 2014, while out for dinner in New York at NYY Steak, the couple got captured holding hands and were said to be affectionate with one another.
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