I think I probably failed to consider her when looking for people starting with the more challenging letters because she’s only seven years older than I am. Though, sigh, she’s got Bipolar Type II, so that makes her on a different spectrum—her life expectancy and mine are both considered lower than that of the general population. Still, she just didn’t occur to me at the time, and I think she’s worth looking at for several reasons. Though it delights me to look over her biography and learn that her childhood basically was a certain sort of British movie. Her parents got her dance lessons to deal with her hyperactivity, and they were able to afford their standard of living because they’d won a large amount of money at bingo.
Her earlier roles tend to be Beautiful British Woman Is Best Part of Mediocre Production. She was a fascinating Catherine the Great, for example, in a production that’s got some great costume porn and not much else. But that sort of thing is why she moved to LA, because she hoped that she’d be able to move beyond that sort of thing. There is more to her than just being beautiful—and some of her real breakout roles seem to me to be using her beauty to subvert expectations. She’s beautiful—but she’s a brilliant swordswoman! She’s beautiful—but she’s an accomplished thief! So tiresome, and not just on her behalf.
Really, though, she’s a spectacular Velma Kelly. They wanted her for Roxie, but Zeta-Jones wanted to sing “All That Jazz.” And there’s a certain twist on symbolism to having the dark Zeta-Jones as “the notorious Velma Kelly” opposite Renée Zellweger (also only seven years older than I am) as light, blonde, painted-innocent Roxie Hart. When it’s not that Velma’s any more or less venal than Roxie, just smarter. I’m sure Zeta-Jones could have done a passable Roxie, but I’m glad she didn’t try. That they let her be Velma, because she give great Velma.
She also plays with roles in her brief appearance in High Fidelity. Her character is high on the list of most insufferable ones in a movie full of insufferable characters. She’s one of those women that I hated in college, not just because I was always convinced the whole thing was an act but because it was an act that I couldn’t watch. On the other hand, Zeta-Jones sells the idea of the kind of woman that Rob would have been obsessed over for all that time. Especially with what we know of Rob.
I could go on—I haven’t talked about Intolerable Cruelty yet, a movie I like considerably more than most people seem to. And I have not yet seen Feud to have an opinion on that one. But can I just mention how much I want her to play a Jedi? Yes, that’s partially because I feel as though we need more female Jedi. But it’s also because Sir Alec Guinness was English and Ewan McGregor is Scottish and Liam Neeson is Irish, and having a Welsh Jedi would complete the set. And wouldn’t she just be spectacular?