Catherine Zeta-Jones's 15-year-old daughter, Carys, on growing up part of a Hollywood dynasty

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Carys Zeta Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones at the Michael Kors Collection Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear runway Show on Sept. 13, 2017. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors)

Carys Douglas, the 15-year-old daughter of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, landed her first magazine cover (with Mom!) and gives a glimpse into what it’s like growing up with not one but two famous parents.

She is well aware that many of you think it’s been all silver spoons as she grew up in Bermuda, Manhattan, and tony Bedford, N.Y., but in fact it hasn’t always been easy. Carys talked to Town & Country about being trailed by paparazzi when she was in the first grade, saying, “I hated it. I used to get really upset. They would jump on the subway and sit right in front of me. I was, like, six. I was confused.”

That wasn’t the only downside. Her Oscar-winning dad has a few years on her — he’s 73 to her mom’s 48 — and she was bullied over his age. “People would be like, ‘Your grandpa’s here to pick you up,'” she recalled. Though that wasn’t as bad as the time she walked into a drugstore a few years ago and saw her father’s image on a tabloid cover stating, incorrectly, that his cancer had returned and he would be dying in a month. “I just started crying. I was like, ‘Why didn’t my parents tell me this?!’” she said. “Only it wasn’t true. People just always want a story to tell.”

So Carys wants to tell her own story. Which is that, despite early paparazzi trauma, she loves acting. She’s been in school productions of Tommy and Spring Awakening, and had the lead in Once on This Island. While she hopes to follow her brother, Dylan, to an Ivy League school (he’s a freshman at Brown) and thinks about becoming a doctor, acting is her real passion, and she may follow in the footsteps of her parents and grandfather Kirk Douglas.

“When I was younger I didn’t like the idea of having this name attached to me, this kind of ‘Douglas dynasty’ stuff,” she said. “I think what bothers me the most is that people think I don’t work hard for it, that I don’t need to work hard for it. That anything I do gets handed to me. When, honestly, I feel like it’s the opposite. I feel I need to constantly prove myself to people — that I am not just my parents’ daughter.”

But she’s been groomed by them for sure. “My parents do a really good job of reality-checking me and being like, ‘Look around you. The life you have is extraordinary,’” Carys said. Her mom chimed in, “What I instilled in my kids, and I’m very, very proud of it, is manners. There’s nothing worse than a privileged kid without manners. I drilled it into them like boot camp. The teenage years… She knows she cannot roll her eyes at me, or huff and puff around me. I never did it to my mother, and she’s not doing it to me.”

Zeta-Jones says that raising her kids in the public eye made them especially close. Issues that came up — and there have been lots, including Douglas’s cancer battle, Zeta-Jones and Douglas’s brief split, and Douglas recently being accused of sexual harassment, to name a few — were never swept under the rug. “My husband and I and my father-in-law live, and our family lives, in a world where you are going to be scrutinized,” she said. “It’s all out in the open, the good and the bad. Our kids know before anything comes out. We discuss what’s going on.”

The article certainly has some seriously awkward moments, including the parts talking about the 15-year-old’s body (“She mentions her ardor for Häagen-Dazs, which, judging from her attenuate frame, it’s hard to imagine she ever, ever eats”), when a famous photographer mulled over whether she has the potential to be an “it” girl, and Carys’s BFF being quoted saying, “You would never know she has famous parents.”

However, there are some down-to-earth parts that make it clear that Carys is very much a high school student. The most charming is what she said of growing up away from Hollywood in Bermuda: “I thought my dad was a pancake maker. I didn’t know he was an actor. Honestly.” She talked about coveting her mother’s wardrobe, as buddies who have gone to a few fashion shows together. And she revealed that her dream prom date is Call Me by Your Name star Timothée Chalamet.

Who knows, if her acting dreams do play out — and Hollywood doesn’t lose her to the medical profession — she could be co-starring with Chalamet one day, not imagining dancing with him.

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