10 Interesting things about Catherine Zeta-Jones & Michael Douglas’ marriage
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have one of the rare Hollywood marriages that has stood the test of time. Granted, at the time of this writing, that amounts to 16 years, but in terms of Tinseltown’s usually brief nuptials, that might as well be infinity. They credit their relationship’s longevity to good communication and never taking anything too seriously, which is remarkable considering the health challenges they’ve both faced over the years — Michael’s cancer and Catherine’s bipolar disorder. Whatever they’re doing in their marriage, it’s working, but as is the case with a lot of celebrities’ personal lives, it’s anything but normal. Here are some of the unconventional quirks keeping that flame burning for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
1.The way they met
Introduced by Danny DeVito in 1998, Catherine and Michael’s courtship was nothing short of a whirlwind, despite Catherine’s admission to People that “we never even kissed until nine months later.” But that didn’t seem to slow Michael down at all. He proposed on New Year’s Eve in 1999 and the couple had their first child together, Dylan, in August of 2000. They were married three months later, which according to Michael is actually a miracle since he felt he flubbed their initial meeting pretty badly.
During an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show (via The Daily Mail), Michael admitted that the first thing he said to her was, “You know, I’m going to be the father of your children,” which is a line so skeezy even one of Hollywood’s hottest actors couldn’t pull it off. Catherine’s response was classic, “I’ve heard a lot about you and I’ve seen a lot about you and I think it’s time that I said goodnight.” Ouch. Supposedly, he won her back with roses and “a touching apology note,” which is also probably where that legendary leading man status came back into play. We’re pretty sure if some dude in a grocery store suggested he was going to put a baby in Catherine Zeta-Jones, then followed her to her car with flowers, it would probably have ended in pepper spray and a restraining order, not one of Hollywood’s most celebrated marriages.
2.Their supposedly crazy prenup
Because prenuptial agreements are legal documents between private citizens, they aren’t public record. There’s also a huge amount of speculation around Hollywood prenups for the obvious reason that they deal with celebrities and huge sums of money, so naturally, the one between Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones has become one of legend.
According to The Telegraph, who are admittedly citing the always sketchy “family sources,” Catherine Zeta-Jones’ father was embattled with Michael Douglas’ attorneys over her demands that she be receive “£3 million per year in alimony if the marriage fails or he dies.” There were also rumors of a “cheating clause” which would pay Catherine an additional lump sum if Michael strayed outside the marriage.
While there’s a lot of speculation there, both Michael and Catherine would have good reasons for wanting protections in place. After all, Michael’s first marriage, to Diandra Luker, ended not only in “one of the largest divorce settlements in Hollywood history: a reported $45 million,” but also badly, and with the specter of infidelity around it. When Michael went to rehab in 1992 for substance abuse, it was widely believed he was also there for treatment of sex addiction. According to biographer John Parker (via Huffington Post), while in group therapy Michael allegedly admitted, “Sex is just a wave that sweeps over me, an impulse that is overpowering. I’m helpless. Every time.” Of course, Michael denies the sex addiction angle, so we’re right back to speculating about rich people fighting over money that neither one of them really needs. Who’s the real loser in all of this? Us, for not having something more constructive to do with our time.
3.The age difference
Okay, we admit it, right now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Wait, an older Hollywood actor is married to a beautiful younger woman? Get right out of town!” And no, it’s really not that uncommon even for “normal” older men to have younger wives, but a 25 year age gap is still significant. Not only that, but Michael and Catherine actually have the same birthday, which is certainly not typical.
They also have a great sense of humor about it. In an interview with Jonathan Ross (via Express), Michael said, “We joke all the time about when I reach my 80s and she’s wheeling me around and I’m saying ‘Whoa, where are we going?’ And she will say ‘Cartier darling, Cartier. It’s your favorite store.'” Catherine’s take is just as bemused. “At night, he lets me hold the TV remote until he starts to get tired, then he gives me carte blanche to turn everything off,” she joked to People.
So they seem to know how to deftly handle any “trophy wife” or “robbing the cradle” commentary, although it’s always fun to do the numbers and point out stuff like when Michael Douglas was already a full-blown Hollywood megastar headlining movies like Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile, his wife was in high school.
4.The whole tongue cancer oral sex thing
First of all, we should point out the still commonly misreported statement that Michael Douglas had throat cancer, which he revealed in 2010. He did not. He actually had tongue cancer but chose to tell everyone it was in his throat on the advice of his surgeon. In a 2013 interview on This Morning (via Fox News), Michael said he was told, “Well if you really want to know why, if we do have to have surgery it’s not going to be pretty. You’ll lose part of your jaw and your tongue and all that stuff.” Yeah, not exactly stuff you want to have to talk about when you’re plugging kid-friendly Marvel movies, right?
Then there was the whole oral sex thing. In a now infamous interview with The Guardian, Michael was asked if he thought his years of tobacco use caused the cancer, to which he surprisingly replied, “No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus.” Alrighty then. Obviously, a media storm ensued, because not only are celebrities not usually so forthcoming with such topics, but also, really dude? That’s how you’re going to use your celebrity to advocate cancer awareness?
His reps issued denials in as much as they could, telling USA Today, “Michael Douglas did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer. It was discussed that oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers as doctor’s in the article point out but he did not say it was the specific cause of his personal cancer,” which is fancy PR speak for “He left us a tiny gap of deniability here and we’re trying to drive a truck through it.” Also, and probably most importantly here, what did Catherine think of all of this? Well, keep reading.
5.They took a break in 2013
That Guardian interview about the cunnilingus was published in June, 2013. By August 28, 2013, Michael Douglas’ rep confirmed to The Mirror that the couple was “taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage.” Obviously, neither Michael nor Catherine has ever come out and said his clumsy remarks were the reason for the separation, but come on. Clearly they were already having some issues, but if there was ever a “straw that broke the camel’s back,” it’s insinuating to the world that your wife’s fun parts might have given you cancer. It doesn’t take a marriage counselor to figure that one out.
After a few months, they reconciled, which is several decades sooner than we would have anticipated, but while talking about their reunion on Ellen (via The Daily Mail), Michael said, “The only problem is, as you well know, we’re all in the public eye and it tends to get a little more exposed than most.” Yes, and under that watchful gaze he said one of the dumbest things a married man has ever said about his wife in history. Michael also minimized the split to the The Mirror, saying, “We had a little bump in the road,” so either Michael Douglas is some kind of hypnotic genius, or he and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ marriage is the exception to the normally disastrous concept of “taking a break.” Seriously, when has anyone ever suggested that to a significant other when they weren’t really just to scared to say, “I’d really love to be sleeping with other people.”
6.They shared a crazy stalker
Dealing with stalkers is unfortunately par for the course for a lot of celebrities. It’s always creepy regardless of the degree of severity, but in Michael and Catherine’s case, it was especially disturbing. During the preliminary hearing for Dawnette Knight, the woman accused of making threatening phone calls and sending graphically violent letters to the couple, Catherine Zeta-Jones testified that she had multiple panic attacks as a result of the continual harassment.
According to The Daily Mail, Knight carried out her reign of terror over a period of a year and a half as a result of her “girlish crush on Michael Douglas,” which is the surprisingly banal categorization Knight’s lawyer used to describe the 19 letters and many phone calls from his client to Douglas and Jones, one of which included the phrase “slice her up like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs.” Allegedly enraged over rumors that Zeta-Jones had an affair with George Clooney during the filming of Ocean’s 12, Knight also alluded she was paid hush money by Douglas in order to keep quiet about an affair they were having. In her own testimony, she said, “I’m not here to ruin anybody’s marriage and (Douglas is) married,” when asked about a large sum of cash she was carrying when she was arrested. Wow.
Wasn’t repeatedly threatening Catherine with death and accusing her of an affair enough without then insinuating an affair with Michael on top of all of that? Knight was eventually sentenced to three years in jail, but the damage of her actions had a lasting effect on Catherine. “Your actions will be with me for the rest of my life – how I will be constantly observing, looking over my shoulder,” Jones said through a statement at the trial.
7.They bounced back quickly from hard times
Okay, we know it seems like we may have just made it seem like Catherine and Michael’s separation was entirely caused by his bonehead remarks, but there was obviously more to the story than that. For starters, that whole stalker/alleged affair thing back there couldn’t have helped. But then, in 2010, the year Michael was diagnosed with tongue cancer, his son from his first marriage, Cameron, was sentenced to five years in prison for drug trafficking charges. Also during this time, the stress from dealing with her husband’s illness and stepson’s incarceration exacerbated Catherine’s yet-to-be diagnosed bipolar disorder to the point where she entered a rehab facility for treatment for it in early 2011. That is a lot for one couple to deal with in such a short amount of time.
Catherine’s publicist even issued a statement attributing her “brief stay” at the facility to “dealing with the stress of the past year,” according to ABC News. But by 2013, post-separation, Catherine told The Telegraph that she felt she had a good handle on her mental illness. “I’m looking forward to the sunshine more. I get a bit gloomy when it’s gloomy. But I’m looking forward to the sun, my kids are doing great at school. I am very happy; we live a blessed life,” she said. That’s a remarkable turnaround time to bounce back from three major life events that each on their own had the power to drive a permanently damaging wedge in a marriage.
8.They don’t share a bathroom
If you thought all of that tongue cancer/oral sex stuff was scandalous, well strap in, because here comes the real shocker — Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones don’t share a bathroom! Alright, so maybe we didn’t save the strangest thing about their marriage for last, but this is definitely odd, right?
In a 2006 interview with The Daily Mail (Via Closer Weekly), Catherine said, “Separate bathrooms is always a really great idea. Mine is so messy. I’d hate for my husband to realize just how incredibly cluttery I can be.” Look, we totally get not wanting to be in the room when a significant other is doing their throne business, but maintaining entirely different rooms is a little much. Catherine gave some more insight in an interview with The Telegraph, “We spend a hell of a lot of time together, so we are careful to maintain our space. We recently had an extension built, to house a closet. It’s like the Tardis – I go in there and never come out. My husband knocks on the door and says, ‘Can I come in?’ But I’ve got a TV in there, and my daughter brings her friends in – they play shop, put on all my stuff. I could be in there for the whole day, happily,” she said. At this point, normal married couples who don’t even have a double vanity, and who share a living room and television with children should be rolling their eyes so hard they’re falling out of chairs.
9.They lived in paradise for a while
Even though Hollywood is the paparazzi capital of the US, at lot of celebrities feel like they have to live there to be available for work. While some get away with retreating to the less tabloid-crazed New York City, the true A-listers, like Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, leave the country completely
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are definitely part of that crowd, and they expatriated in 2002, choosing instead to raise their children on a little slice of paradise. The couple called Bermuda home until 2009, having completely renovated a four bedroom cottage to include guest quarters and custom interior work by London designer, Stephen Ryan, according to Architectural Digest. They eventually had to return stateside to be closer for work, but Michael’s family ties — his mother’s family dates its lineage on Bermuda to the early 1600s — and their own love of the island has kept them coming back. Not only do they still own the “cottage,” which they now rent out for $28,000/month, but they’re also investors in the Ariel Sands Cottage Colony Hotel, which is set to open in 2017.
We realize that rich people dashing off to the Caribbean may not exactly come across as strange, but actually moving there isn’t that common, even in their crowd. Choosing to dabble in real estate development when you don’t need the money or the headache that comes along with that sort of things is also a bit surprising. We’ve all seen those house-flipping shows on HGTV, right? No thanks.
10.Taking the bad with the good
Separate bathrooms, a “closet” with a TV and amenities for escaping one’s spouse for an entire day, and a luxurious island retreat only a short plane ride away? What’s next, a machine that’s programmed with a special algorithm that suggests exactly the right restaurant that both of you want to eat at? Look, we know that being a wealthy celebrity means living a life of luxury that most people couldn’t dream of, but it seems like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones may have gone to extremes to compensate for some of the massive stressors their relationship has endured. Or maybe not. There are crazier ways to deal with simultaneous cancer and bipolar diagnoses that occur right around the time your kid gets sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking, like you know, completely losing it and going off the deep end for good. So maybe “strange” isn’t the right word for their marriage. We’re thinking “strong” is more like it.