Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catherine Zeta as We've Never Seen Her before; Star Is Spellbinding in Chicago Film Role

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catherine Zeta as We've Never Seen Her before; Star Is Spellbinding in Chicago Film Role

Article excerpt

Byline: LUKE LEITCH

SHE IS one of Hollywood's hottest leading ladies but no one has ever seen her like this - in the film adaptation of the smashhit musical Chicago.

Catherine Zeta-Jones has gone back to her West End roots to take on the role of sexy, ruthless murderess Velma Kelley. And RenEe Zellweger, better known as the pudgy and hapless Bridget Jones, has transformed herself into the muscular and hard-as-nails convict Roxie Hart. Both actresses wore wigs in the film, as well as putting themselves through a gruelling fitness regime to get in the best possible shape for the high-tempo dance routines.

Zeta-Jones might have had a small advantage over her co-star - she has had prior experience of how tough it can be in musicals, starring in 42nd Street in the West End at the age of 17 after paying her dues in other shows, including Bugsy Malone and Annie.

But Zellweger was a complete newcomer to musicals before Chicago began shooting. She had never even been in a school production, although she did try.

She said: "In college I couldn't get in a show. I tried out for Hair but that didn't work out. I went to see the show - that's the closest I ever came to musical theatre."

She added: "Learning a whole new medium of expression is so fulfilling in ways that I never imagined .. . to use your body in that way, to express yourself in that way . .. I shouldn't even try to explain it."

However, Zellweger admits that she was initially very worried by her Welsh co-star's onstage expertise, saying: "I had heard that Catherine could sing and dance. People would say, 'You're not going to believe it'. Well, I walk in on my first day and she's in a lift singing All That Jazz and I was just dumbfounded.

"My jaw dropped to the floor. I didn't speak for 30 minutes. Just sat in the corner in awe and watched. It's not just singing and dancing, she belts it out. …

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