How Old Was Catherine Zeta-Jones When She Met Michael Douglas?

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have been together for 20 years. But one thing people remember most about them is their age difference. Given their 25-year age gap, how old was Zeta-Jones when she met Douglas? In a recent interview, she said she met him during the best year of her life.

Michael Douglas in a black suit and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a black gown while smiling on the red carpet of the 2021 Golden Globe Awards
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ life before meeting Michael Douglas

Zeta-Jones had made a name for herself as an actor in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States in the late 1990s. The Welsh star told Bustle she felt like she was slowly becoming famous for personal life rather than her work in the U.K., prompting her move.

When she did move to the U.S., she soon became friends with fellow expat actors Salma Hayek and Russell Crowe. She said:

I was single when I came to the States. I was single, single, single until I met my husband. I was my own woman. I was ambitious in a good, healthy way. I was in a new country, forming good friendships that are still with me. I became part of an expat world of young actors. It was Russell Crowe, me, Salma Hayek. We used to hang out together, auditioning, going to studios for castings. It was a good time, I have to say.

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How did Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas meet?

Her breakout role in the U.S. was Elena in The Mask of Zorro alongside Antonio Banderas. The Oscar winner said she had no inkling this movie would change her life at the time. She said:

“All I knew is that I was in really, really good company. And I was with Antonio [Banderas], who had just come off [Robert] Rodriguez’s [Mexico Trilogy] films. He was as hot as a hot can be. And Anthony Hopkins hadn’t long got the Oscar for Silence of the Lambs. Steven Spielberg was producing, and Martin Campbell, who just had success with James Bond, was directing. So for me, it was like, ‘How lucky can I get?’ Then it was up to me to do what I needed to do. To make that mark.

She left her mark, indeed. Zeta-Jones revealed that after seeing The Mask of Zorro, Douglas decided he wanted to meet her. And the Chicago alum thought it was for work purposes. Nope!

They met while in Europe for a film festival. And her Zorro co-star helped introduce them over dinner. Zeta-Jones said:

“I genuinely thought that because I was in work mode and I was going to a film festival, and that’s where film deals are made. And people get introduced and things like that. Schmoozing, whatever you want to call it. And I thought he wanted to meet me for a job. So I never thought, “Oh my God, he wants to date me.”

And then Tony [Hopkins] invited Michael for dinner before the premiere, early dinner and a drink after or something.”

Zeta-Jones was 28 at the time, and Douglas was 53.

Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michael Douglas cheer-sing their wine at dinner in 1998 at the Deauville Festival
Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michael Douglas at dinner in 1998 at the Deauville Festival | Eric Robert/Sygma via Getty Images

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Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were friends for a year before dating

Although Douglas made his romantic intentions clear when they met, they didn’t start dating for another year. She said:

“Well, 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.’ But he sent me flowers in Scotland and we communicated for a year after just by the phone. Whenever I was in New York or he was in L.A., we’d have a dinner or something for a year. We became friends, I guess. And then it all took off one summer, and then that was it. Twenty years later, here we are.”

The two got married in 2000 and will be celebrating their 21st anniversary in November. When looking back on her life, the Entrapment star said meeting her husband in 1998 wasn’t the only thing that made her year great.

“If my daughter says, ‘What was your favorite year?’ I always say 28,” Zeta-Jones said. “I was my own woman. I was independent. I was financially independent. I was emotionally independent. I was fearless in new adventures.”

Zeta-Jones is now 51 and Douglas is 76.