Inside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas age gap, split and health woes

Catherine Zeta-Jones and her husband Michael Douglas both have reached a new milestone as the Welsh-born star turns 54 while her beau celebrates his 79th birthday today.

The couple, who have been happily married for over two decades, are gearing up for a double celebration as they both mark their birthdays on September 25.

Catherine and Michael’s love story began in 1998 when the latter saw the Welsh beauty, who was then 29-years-old, in her role as the enigmatic Elena Montero in The Mask of Zorro and later arranged for his publicist to set up a meeting between them.

“I met her in the bar and was a total gentleman,” Michael told Jonathan Ross during an appearance on his show in 2016. The actor – who was 54 when they met – made his move later that night, cheekily telling the actress: “You know, I’m going to be the father of your children.”

But Catherine was not enamoured by the Basic Instinct actor. According to Michael, she replied: “I’ve heard a lot about you, and I’ve seen a lot about you, and I think it’s time that I say goodnight.”

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However, the Hollywood actor’s charm worked as the pair got engaged during a New Year’s Eve trip to Michael’s home in Aspen, Colorado in 1999 and the following year they tied the knot.

They also welcomed their son Dylan Michael who was just three months old when he attended his parents’ wedding.

Catherine has previously addressed their age gap, and told WSJ Magazine in 2021: “My husband is 25 years older than me; that’s not a secret… The constant is love and respect.”

During her 2022 interview in The Telegraph, she explained: “We’re just very good with one another, we respect each other, and I never really feel that he’s 25 years older than me. I remember people saying, ‘When you’re 50, he’s going to be 75.’ Well, that’s just maths.”

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The couple welcomed their second child together in 2003, daughter Carys, shortly after the newlyweds tied the knot.

However, in 2013 they called time on their romance and delivered a statement which shocked their fans.

At the time, Catherine’s representative wrote: “Catherine and Michael are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage. There will be no further comment.”

Their breakup came just over two years after Michael was given the all clear following his battle with throat cancer and in the wake of Catherine’s struggles with her bipolar II disorder.

One month after they released their statement, Michael revealed they were trying to work things out.

At the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013 he told People: “We’re working things out, talking, and we’ll see how she goes.”

When he accepted his award the actor went on to thank his wife for her continued support and a year later the couple made a public appearance together at the Monte Cristo Awards in New York, confirming they had reconciled.

Both Michael and Catherine have spoken of the ups and downs in their relationship and have overcome struggles, including the Basic Instinct actor’s throat cancer diagnosis.

In September 2010, the couple spoke with People about Michael’s health.

“It’s a fight,” Michael said. “It really knocks you out.” At the time, he was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to treat a tumour at the base of his tongue.

By 2011 the actor revealed he was cancer-free and was “relieved” the “tumour had gone”.

During that year it was announced that the Wednesday star was being treated for bipolar disorder, which the actress has since shared was brought on by the stress she had experienced in the past year.

She told InStyle magazine: “I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops but, with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s controllable”.

Catherine has since shared that her diagnosis was not something she wanted to share publicly but added on Good Morning America in 2012 that she had a great support system.

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