'Talk about a memorable ride': Catherine Zeta-Jones on her pregnant Oscar win 15 years later

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Catherine Zeta-Jones was nine months pregnant when she received the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Chicago. Fifteen years later, that night remains one of her most treasured memories … even though she immediately forgot what she said in her speech. “I couldn’t remember my name at the end of my pregnancy,” Zeta-Jones told Yahoo Entertainment while sharing memories of her most beloved films for our Role Recall series. Of course, we couldn’t talk about her performance as slinky seductress Velma in Chicago without also talking about her unforgettable 2003 Oscar appearance. Not only did Zeta-Jones show up to collect her award at the very end of her pregnancy, she also performed the nominated song “I Move On” with Queen Latifah, ascending to the stage on a panic-inducing moving platform. “Talk about a memorable ride,” Zeta-Jones told Yahoo Entertainment. “It was a roller coaster of shooting the film, promoting the film with my ever-growing bump, going to the Oscars with my ever-growing bump, singing live, winning, and then giving birth to my baby 10 days later. It was a real trip.” 

Watch her recount that momentous ceremony above, and check out the full Role Recall below. Some highlights:

The Mask of Zorro (1998)

“I can’t believe The Mask of Zorro is turning 20,” Zeta-Jones said of her breakout Hollywood film, in which she starred opposite Antonio Banderas. Though she’d been a working actress for years at that point, she was blown away by the production values. “It was a real sense of, this is a real film,” she said. “We had horse trainers and flamenco dance lessons, sword fighting lessons, horse riding lessons — it was just like, this is the way that movies used to be made, and here we are, making it here.”

Traffic (2000)

Words failed Zeta-Jones when it came to describing one of her favorite collaborators, director Steven Soderbergh. In Traffic, she played a pregnant housewife who discovers that her husband is a drug lord — and then proceeds to take over his illegal business. “It was just a joy to be a part of that great movie,” said Zeta-Jones. The film’s tricky subject matter made even some of its producers nervous. Zeta-Jones recalled one investor in particular angrily asking her, “Why are you doing a $30 million movie about drugs?” — and noted that when the film was nominated for Best Picture, “he looked supercute at the Oscars.”

America’s Sweethearts (2001)

This Billy Crystal-penned celebrity spoof featured a rare comic turn from Zeta-Jones, who played a demanding Hollywood diva promoting a film in the middle of a divorce from her co-star (John Cusack) who is secretly in love with her sister and assistant (Julia Roberts). “I can’t even tell a joke… but I love to play comedy,” she told Yahoo Entertainment.

Chicago (2002)

When director Rob Marshall approached her about Chicago, Zeta-Jones immediately knew that she wanted to play Velma Kelly, not the larger role of Roxie Hart (which went to Renée Zellweger). “Because I have to sing ‘All That Jazz,’” Zeta-Jones explained. Even now, her favorite number remains “a bit of a theme song” for the actress, playing whenever she does an event or introduces an award. And she’s not complaining: “I couldn’t wish for a better theme song.”

Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

Zeta-Jones remembers this Ocean’s Eleven sequel, her second film with Soderbergh, as being a nonstop party behind the scenes. “That was just so much fun to be part of all those boys, joking around all the time, and I was the only serious real actor going, ‘We’re making a movie here!’” she joked. While shooting in Rome, she was astonished by the crowds of screaming women that thronged around her co-star Brad Pitt. “I have never seen anything like that in my life,” she said.

The Terminal (2004)

Director Steven Spielberg first “discovered” Zeta-Jones in the 1996 television miniseries Titanic, and she was thrilled to work with him and co-star Tom Hanks in this drama about an immigrant forced to live in a New York City airport terminal. “If you’re going to be stuck in an airport, who better else to be stuck with than Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg?” she said. Not to mention that the set was a fully functioning space complete with a coffee shop, bookstore, and doughnut shop. “I ate so many doughnuts on that film, I remember, because they were there,” she confessed.

Watch Catherine Zeta-Jones share stories about her favorite films in our Role Recall.

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