News

Catherine Zeta-Jones on Cocaine Godmother and Her Husband's Response to Harassment Accusations

The actress discusses her nearly four–year obsession with Griselda Blanco and her support of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

by | January 19, 2018 | Comments

Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) is the latest movie star taking a turn on TV, and the role — as a Colombian drug kingpin in the Lifetime film Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story — finds the actress at her most gritty. Zeta-Jones spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about what attracted her to the role and addressed an interview her husband Michael Douglas gave to Deadline about sexual harassment accusations against him.

Zeta-Jones as Griselda Blanco is the actress like you’ve never seen her before. She first learned of Blanco in the 2006 documentary Cocaine Cowboys. There were only still photographs of Blanco in the documentary, but interviews with others conveyed her legend.

“She was feared, revered,” Zeta-Jones said. “It was fascinating to me that this woman was ruling the roost, running the big boys. She was very powerful in that world. She retained that power for so long when everybody wanted her dead. She dodged life in prison through technical details, and then gets assassinated by her own way of gunning people down with the drive-by.”

As Cocaine Godmother shows, Blanco invented the drive-by shooting with her motorcycle assassins. She also developed ways to hide drugs — in women’s underwear and shoes and false-bottom suitcases — that fans of gangster movies (and the real DEA) take for granted now.


“She was sexy because she was dangerous,” Zeta-Jones said. “These men found her sexy because she was dangerous. You don’t get more dangerous than a Colombian woman running the show in Miami, the birthplace of the Colombian drug cartels. And the fighting between the Colombians and the Cubans; we’re talking about drug dealers against drug dealers, DEA against [cartels]. It was chaos; the Dade Massacre, the drive-bys, the killings, the dismembering. It was like a war zone there, and this was where old people used to go to retire.”

Blanco was not only dangerous for her deadly stranglehold on the drug-smuggling business; she also seemed to tempt fate. She named her son “Michael Corleone” (Dagan Nish), and Zeta-Jones’ research found she had a dog named Hitler too. Hitler did not make it into the movie.

“So there was a sick sense of humor,” Zeta-Jones said. “I’m sure her kids were accessories like a handbag; choose one for each day.”


Research uncovered one piece of film of Blanco, and Zeta-Jones could tell she was performing for the cameras.

“There was footage of her walking into the church and taking the holy water, talking about her beliefs,” Zeta-Jones said. “I went, ‘I don’t buy it,’ but I buy the fact that she had that sociopathic way of convincing herself that it was all OK, convincing herself that it’s right and she deserves it.”

Cocaine Godmother does not try to justify, sympathize with, or redeem Blanco, nor does Zeta-Jones.

“No, there are no excuses for Griselda,” she said. “There’s no redeeming quality to Griselda. That’s why she’s brilliant to play. All those things about Griselda that I detest, I admire her strength of audacity to be able to succeed that long in a man’s world. She did the false-bottom cases, the hiding [drugs] in the heels of the shoes, creating mules to do the work — pretty girls, models, anything. She was smart. You’ve got to applaud her for that, if anything.”


A frequent visitor to Miami, Blanco’s American headquarters, Zeta-Jones often heard the locals talk about Blanco. Now she can call B.S. on a lot of their tall tales, since she’s an expert on the subject.

“I go now to Miami, I talk about Griselda Blanco in a car going somewhere (from the airport or something), everyone [says they] knew somebody who knew or worked for Griselda Blanco,” Zeta-Jones said. “All of a sudden it’s like everyone knew Griselda Blanco. Nobody did. The DEA were trying to track her down for years. She just was so smart. For somebody who never went to school, she could barely read and write, she was able to do that.”


Catherine Zeta-Jones in Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story (Lifetime)

Douglas and Zeta-Jones usually stay out of each other’s performances, but for this one, Douglas knew one personal quality that would be very useful in playing Blanco. He said, “You are at your most terrifying when you do nothing,” Zeta-Jones shared.

Their kids concurred.

“My kids tell me that I have a look that I do which I don’t know [I’m doing], and that’s the serious look,” Zeta-Jones said. “They used to call it the Griselda look while I was shooting Griselda. She always had that look. That was so funny that note with Michael because I genuinely didn’t know, and he was really serious. He wasn’t making a joke of it. I used it in those moments of me going, ‘Oh gosh, what am I going to do here with this? There are so many ways I could go. I could go this way, I could go that way. Why don’t I just do this? I’m going to scare them with nothing.’”


Michael Douglas in New York in May 2017 (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Before Rotten Tomatoes spoke to Zeta-Jones, Douglas gave a interview to Deadline in which he said he “felt the need to get ahead of” sexual harassment accusations by former employee Susan Braudy, a journalist and author,  that have since been published by The Hollywood Reporter.

Douglas’ interview was published only days after Zeta-Jones wore black in support of Time’s Up at the Golden Globes. In this interview, the actress restated her support of #MeToo and Time’s Up and said Douglas’ decision to speak had the desired effect.

“It’s been very positive, extremely positive,” Zeta-Jones said. “Unfortunate that he had to make a statement, but it was essential that he do that. There was no other choice.

“I just want to instill how much we are, and I am, of course, 100 percent behind this movement — it’s been a long time coming — and so is my husband,” she continued. “My husband has a fantastic track record of creative-women empowerment and [with] women in his business: working with them on screen, producing with them, alongside them. His mother was an actress, I’m an actress — [but] not just actresses, women in general. Us as a family, we really want to say how much we support this movement, absolutely.”

Asked if she felt caught between supporting the movement and standing by her family in this situation, Zeta-Jones said she did not.

“My husband doing that preemptive interview with Deadline is supporting the movement,” Zeta-Jones said. “It’s supporting the truth, and the truth is the movement.”


The premiere of Cocaine Godmother will be the end of a three-and-a-half-year journey for Zeta-Jones in developing The Griselda Blanco Story. Even though she wrapped filming on July 4, Blanco has stayed with her, she said.

“I’m finding it really hard to let her go,” she said. “You would think of all the characters, she’d be an easy one to dump. Take me away from all that pain, take me away from that violence, take me away from that dirty, dark, world. No, it’s a real big part of my career working on this and being able to play her. It was just so fulfilling to have the chance.”

Zeta-Jones said she expects to feel closure once she shares Griselda Blanco with the world.

“It’s all coming to a glorious natural end,” she said. “Once it airs, it’s out there, and then I can give it away.”

Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story airs Saturday, January 20 at 8/7C on Lifetime.


Tag Cloud

dramedy YA Teen Columbia Pictures Thanksgiving BBC Mary Tyler Moore Watching Series supernatural Rock Certified Fresh CMT MSNBC Quiz thriller sitcom Shudder Syfy SDCC Musical American Society of Cinematographers Chilling Adventures of Sabrina what to watch robots Year in Review Freeform CBS dc Nickelodeon X-Men discovery TNT political drama diversity GoT binge Sony Pictures FX Marathons Paramount Network Nat Geo A&E Horror Animation Grammys Pop crime drama Amazon 24 frames police drama TV Land cops 007 cults The Arrangement NBC Schedule PaleyFest Mindy Kaling San Diego Comic-Con zombie based on movie TCA 2017 Valentine's Day Holidays aliens TLC crossover Food Network Drama First Look justice league Winter TV Masterpiece The CW Crackle ITV Tomatazos cinemax sports Epix television doctor who El Rey zombies History Rom-Com Winners crime LGBTQ SXSW RT History Dark Horse Comics Rocky TBS unscripted Character Guide Premiere Dates Opinion psycho Adult Swim Universal politics Reality Competition AMC Comic Book cats Tumblr APB Creative Arts Emmys Mystery PBS Spike DC Universe harry potter Logo Oscars Superheroe Ellie Kemper golden globes VH1 Comedy comic ABC singing competition Lucasfilm Walt Disney Pictures mutant TV Trivia blaxploitation Pirates ratings E! FXX Fantasy Britbox Star Trek CW Seed spy thriller ABC Family President Sci-Fi Warner Bros. Polls and Games boxoffice Netflix finale Country Sneak Peek Awards Tour Comics on TV BET Song of Ice and Fire Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Lionsgate Spring TV cooking WGN serial killer biography Interview Countdown Summer dceu Calendar Sundance IFC vampires war Toys technology Video Games Fall TV NYCC Cartoon Network Action 2017 Awards festivals 20th Century Fox 2015 jamie lee curtis ESPN Kids & Family Set visit USA Network Trailer DC streaming service Nominations Election Disney CNN Christmas 45 Best and Worst travel Starz New York Comic Con TCM BBC America Musicals Box Office DC Comics Cosplay TIFF Comedy Central Martial Arts hist comiccon Superheroes crime thriller Paramount VICE social media National Geographic SundanceTV DirecTV 2016 YouTube Premium period drama Hulu Extras TruTV Marvel Shondaland Podcast GIFs Photos Music Infographic docudrama E3 21st Century Fox medical drama IFC Films Red Carpet anime Western See It Skip It Ghostbusters Bravo historical drama Apple HBO composers romance Super Bowl Trophy Talk FOX Emmys Biopics Showtime transformers Disney Channel Star Wars Sundance Now talk show USA Acorn TV Pixar CBS All Access adventure GLAAD streaming Writers Guild of America Ovation YouTube Red science fiction Lifetime TCA Esquire OWN Fox News Reality MTV