Zeta-Jones loved to perform, and she was good at it. As a child, she played one of the orphans in a West End production of Annie, and later the title character. When she turned 15 she decided to pursue acting full-time. She dropped out of school without taking her final exams, moved to London, and started going to auditions.
Her big break came in 1991 when she was cast as Mariette in the ‘50s-set British TV show The Darling Buds of May. The show was a success beyond all imagining, filling a gap in the market for more wholesome, family-friendly programming. And almost overnight, Zeta-Jones became a big star in her native country.
“Literally, with one hour of television my life completely changed,” Zeta-Jones told USA Weekend in 2004. “I couldn’t go anywhere.” She decided to move to Los Angeles and have a go at breaking America. It proved to be a good decision. Big names such as Steven Spielberg eventually took notice of her, and she was cast in 1998’s The Mask of Zorro.