Michael Douglas stunned his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones by insisting she didn’t need to act much to be “terrifying” as she prepared to portray Colombian drug queen Griselda Blanco.
The Welsh actress stars in new TV biopic Cocaine Godmother, which chronicles the titular character’s violent reign as a drug boss in Miami, Florida in the 1970s and 1980s.
Catherine had been eyeing the part for some time, and jumped at the opportunity to tackle such a dark role with director Guillermo Navarro.
“It’s been nearly four years that I’ve been wanting to get under her skin, and you wonder why,” she said, “because morally, I’m so the polar opposite of anything and everything that this woman was, did, believed in life, but as an actor, it’s just one of those jobs that you (seize)… to the point of like, I was obsessed with her.”
“I’ve literally got the chance to play a character I’d been wanting to play forever, and it was the best four week shoot of my life… it was crazy,” Catherine smiled on Good Morning America. “I did (channel her dark side for the role), and you know what? I kind of enjoyed it!”
The Mask of Zorro beauty already had a good idea of how she wanted to play the late criminal, but as she headed off to film on location, her husband, Hollywood veteran Michael, decided to share a few words of advice, suggesting she take a ‘less is more’ approach to truly capture Blanco’s fearsome nature onscreen.
“As I was leaving for the airport…, he said, ‘Let me give you a little something to think about, honey… Just remember you don’t have to do a lot,'” Catherine recalled, admitting she found the remark “strange” because Blanco’s personality was so different from her own.
“(He added), ‘You really don’t have to do much at all, just remember that,’ and I went, ‘Why?’, and he said, ‘Darling, you are at your most terrifying when you do absolutely nothing!'”
The shocked actress continued, “I went, ‘Really? Wow, 19 years (together), if I’d known that, I wouldn’t scream like a banshee!’ I’d just keep totally still and look at him…”
Although the revelation initially came as a bit of a surprise, Catherine confesses Michael was right, and she used his note to her advantage.
“I did take that advice, especially on such a crazy shoot, when it was like, the 16th hour and we’re starting a new scene…,” she shared. “Sometimes you just do something (on camera) because you think you have to. (I thought), ‘No, no, you know what? I’m doing nothing,’ and it helped me out.”
Blanco, who is thought to have been responsible for up to 200 murders during her reign as a drug trafficker, was sentenced to more than a decade in prison following her arrest in 1985. She continued to run her drug empire upon her release, and was killed in Colombia in 2012.
Cocaine Grandmother premieres on Lifetime network on Saturday (20Jan18).