Copyright 2002

[ January 17th 2002 ]

Catherine Zeta-Jones is about to become one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood as she cashes in on a series of movie roles. Zeta-Jones, last seen in the drugs saga Traffic, is also negotiating to star in a sequel to the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro, in which she starred with Antonio Banderas.

The Daily Mail in London said Zeta-Jones, wife of Hollywood star Michael Douglas, had been offered major parts in seven movies over the next three years. Sources told the newspaper Hollywood production companies were frantically competing to sign her. "There is no doubt that Traffic saw Catherine Zeta-Jones transformed into a major player here and she is clearly now attracting a lot of interest from numerous production companies," a source said. "These offers show that she has Hollywood at her feet."

According to movie studio executives in Los Angeles, Chicago is her top priority. Zeta-Jones, originally from Wales, will also feature in and produce the low-budget Welsh movie Coming Out, a comedy about rugby players. Industry sources say she will be paid up to $ US10 million to star opposite George Clooney in the romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty. Also on the drawing board is Smoke and Mirrors, a courtroom drama co-starring her husband and his father, Kirk Douglas.

The source said Zeta-Jones was a serious contender to play actor Elizabeth Taylor in Monty, the story of movie star Montgomery Clift. Zeta-Jones also hopes to lend her voice to DreamWorks' animated project Sinbad. "If she signs on the dotted line (for seven movies), she will become the highest-paid British actress in Hollywood - and the busiest," The Daily Mail said.

Zeta-Jones has expressed a desire to have more children. She and Michael Douglas, 57, have an 18-month-old son, Dylan. Oscar best actress winner Julia Roberts, currently starring in Oceans Eleven, earns about $ US20 million a picture. Cameron Diaz, on screen opposite Tom Cruise in the thriller Vanilla Sky, recently signed a $ US20 million deal for the sequel.

Also on the A-list, earning $ US10-20 million film, are Gwyneth Paltrow, Meg Ryan, Jodie Foster, Drew Barrymore and Helen Hunt. Nicole Kidman, following the success of Moulin Rouge and The Others, is expected to command $ US5-10 million for upcoming screen roles. In that same bracket are Renee Zellweger, Michelle Pfeiffer, Angelina Jolie, Sigourney Weaver, Kirsten Dunst, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Sissy Spacek and Reece Witherspoon.

There are a dozen or more female leads believed to earn $ US2-5 million a picture, including Australian actress Cate Blanchett. Also in her league in earnings are leading ladies Julia Stiles, Jennifer Lopez, Heather Graham, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Jennifer Connelly, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz, Ashley Judd, Tea Leoni and Liv Tyler.

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