Michael Douglas says he told Catherine Zeta-Jones on their first meeting that he’ll be father of her children
Actor Michael Douglas repeated the age-old adage ‘Happy wife, happy life’ as being the secret to his long relationship with wife, actor Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Hollywood couple was in conversation with actor Anil Kapoor at the 17th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Saturday.
Kapoor, who has been married to his wife Sunita since 1984, asked Douglas and Zeta-Jones what keeps them going strong, almost 20 years after tying the knot in 2000. Douglas, admitting that people said their marriage ‘wouldn’t last’, offered a step-by-step guide. “First, you marry somebody 25 years younger,” he said, “then you find out you both have the same birthday, and then you tell her on the first night you meet her ‘I’m going to be the father of your children.’”
Watch: ‘Happy wife, happy life’: Michael Douglas’ secret potion for Catherine Zeta-Jones
Douglas and Zeta-Jones are parents to two children, Dylan, 19, and Carys, 16. “I was lucky enough to marry my best friend,” Zeta-Jones said. “The secret to our relationship is being kind to each other and having a sense of humour.”
Now that they’re ‘empty nesters’, Douglas said, ‘we’re getting to know each other again, we’re very happy.’ But at the peak of their stardom, he said that they made sure ‘We scheduled our work life so one of us was home.’ He said that they have made the conscious decision to ‘live back east’ and not in Los Angeles, just to be able to be at a distance from the film industry. “As Michael always says, ‘two celebrities make 20,’” Zeta-Jones said, and added that even though they are humbled by the adoration of their fans, they’re very private people at home.
Interestingly, even though both actors were a part of the film Traffic, they never shared screen space. She said that although they came close to starring opposite each other once – a part of that film was supposed to be set in India – the project never materialised. If they ever agree to working together in the future, she said, she wouldn’t want them to appear as a married couple, calling the idea ‘voyeuristic’. “There’s something unsettling about watching a married couple on screen,” she said.
As a father of three children in the film industry, Kapoor asked the Hollywood actors about how their industry views the idea of nepotism. Children of actors “need to work twice as hard” as others because they are prone to more scrutiny, Douglas said.
Son of Hollywood icon Kirk Douglas, the Wall Street star said that he struggled to live up to the legacy of his father in his youth. Winning the Academy Award for his performance in director Oliver Stone’s drama about 80s excess, Douglas said, was especially important for him, “because I felt like I‘d stepped out of the shadow of my father and created my own identity”.