Despite acclaimed performances in films such as movie musical “Chicago” and thriller “Traffic,” Catherine Zeta-Jones said before she landed the lead role in Lifetime’s “Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story,” she started to lose her “fearlessness” that made her want to become an actor.
Following a screening of the biographical film at a FYC event, Zeta-Jones discussed with Variety’s Debra Birnbaum what made Blanco a compelling character to portray.
In the movie, Zeta-Jones plays the Colombian drug lord from her start in the crime world until her death. During the panel, the actress told Birnbaum that the character “gave me my mojo back.”
“When roles that don’t necessarily come your way, you get insecure,” Zeta-Jones shared. “Then you start questioning your judgment, start questioning your taste. Start questioning. You kind of lose what made you want to do it — that fearlessness.”
She continued, “This role solidified in me that as an actor you have to hold onto that fearless quality. I wasn’t enthralled by what I was doing or offered to do. This just instilled in me this is why I do this.”
Zeta-Jones said she was intrigued by the role because she was able to play Blanco with “no apologies” and show her as a “monster.” She noted that Blanco’s “undesirable qualities are heightened because she is a woman.”
She attempted to get the project made for years, but she said multiple scripts depicted Blanco with excuses as to why she became a ruthless crime boss. “I really believe Griselda Blanco was not apologizing for who she was,” Zeta-Jones said. “She has no redeemable quality; she was who she was.”
When doing research for the role, Zeta-Jones said she found one clip of Blanco being interviewed in Spanish, where she spoke about being absolved of her crimes by Jesus.
“It was such a sociopathic look in her eye, and she really believed it,” Zeta-Jones explained. “I went, ‘I got it.’ That’s where I’m going to work — this idea that she was the movie star in her own movie in her own head.” Zeta-Jones said the proof was that Blanco named her youngest son Michael Corleone after “The Godfather” character.
Given Blanco’s skewed outlook of her life, Zeta-Jones said if she ever would have the chance to meet the drug boss, she wouldn’t ask her anything. “I would listen because I’d be fascinated by the story that she would concoct,” She added, “I’m sure it would be genius.”