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Catherine Zeta-Jones  ('The Legend of Zorro') Catherine Zeta-Jones ('The Legend of Zorro')
'The Mark of Zeta!!'

Catherine Zeta-Jones won an Oscar as best supporting actress for her deliciously villainous femme fatale in the 2002 film 'Chicago.' Originally more popular in the U.K. than in the U.S., Zeta-Jones was first a hit on both sides of the Atlantic as the love interest of Antonio Banderas in the 1998 movie 'The Mask of Zorro.'

She quickly became an A-list star, often cast as a wily and sexy schemer. She was the expert thief opposite Sean Connery in the heist movie 'Entrapment,' and the hard-edged drug kingpin's wife in 'Traffic' (2000, directed by Steven Soderbergh).

She and co-star Renee Zellweger both received Oscar nominations for 'Chicago.' Her profile was boosted by her movie-star romance with actor Michael Douglas. The two were married in 2000, not long after completing filming on 'Traffic.'

And now she is back, with her new film 'The Legend of Zorro' coming to theatres very shortly. In the sequel, despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega, aka Zorro, (Antonio Banderas) - and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) - to take action. All of which is complicated with their nine year old son, Joaquin ... played by Mexican newcomer Adrian Alonso.

We sat down with Catherine earlier this year and first wondered why the time was now right to unleash another Zorro tale? "I used to bump into Antonio and Martin Campbell, and we began with this conversation: 'Let's do another one. Come on. It's so much fun.' For me it was not just professionally important but personally important. Michael saw me in the first one and ... seduced me," she laughs. "He hounded me and followed me around the world until he found me. Now look at me now, two kids later, I can't even believe it's been 9 years since we did the first one. So we had a few drafts that were sent that were just not right, and all the elements had to be in place, because we didn't want to do a sequel unless we were going to do one that was as good as or could surpass the original."

Did you have to curtail your maternal instincts when working with a young child such as Adrian Alonso?! "I'm so glad he probably couldn't understand what I was saying, so I would have really annoyed him, with: Why don't you tie your shoelaces? Why don't you tuck your shirt in? Be careful up there, Adrian!"

How tough on you was the shoot for this sequel? "I had very little time between finishing 'Oceans 12' and going down to Mexico. They'd been shooting for a few weeks before, and I was really kind of nervous because I remembered on the first one we'd had three weeks of Zorro boot camp. Every day we were practicing, and I thought, oh my god, imagine if my sword fight is in the second week of shooting. At that point, I didn't know the schedule, so it kind of came back. It really did. I treated it like choreography and dancing - and a one and a two and a three and a four and a five and turn and down and up, so it's a great exercise. After the first one I had great expectations of continuing this and maybe being an Olympian sword woman, but course, lazy old me," she adds, laughing.

You're slated to play a chef in the upcoming 'Mostly Martha,' but in real life how are your cooking skills?! "Michael is afraid when I'm in the kitchen. That's what really terrifies him, because I am a terrible cook and I'm not allowed to go in the kitchen anymore. I did actually burn a pan. It wasn't on fire but it was smoking, and I got a little scared, and right next to the stove was a big old fire extinguisher. I'm going to be this chef in 'Mostly Martha,' so when you see me at the next junket, I'm going to be giving you recipes and my tricks of the trade," she says laughing.

How do you keep your Hollywood marriage with Michael so alive and well?! "We just each other! Michael said that the fact that we're in a 25-year age difference is kind of fantastic. We're at different places in our lives, career-wise and all that stuff, we're not vying for the attention that maybe two actors together around the same age are kind of vying for, and we have two kids, and if I'm working, Michael is with me and the kids and if he's working I'm with him - it just works for us. It balances so it's not - I love you honey, I'll see you in six months!"

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