Catherine Zeta-Jones hit the Croisette today to talk up her Lifetime original movie, Cocaine Godmother. The film is directed by Guillermo Navarro and is based on the life of Miami drug lord Griselda Blanco (Zeta-Jones), one of the original “Cocaine Cowboys” who pioneered the drug trade between Colombia and the U.S. in the 70s and 80s.
The goal for Zeta-Jones was “not to homogenize her or find a sympathetic quality, because I don’t think she had one. I applaud Lifetime and A+E. It would have been easy to rose-tint this story.”
Blanco was living in Queens when she became embroiled with local drug runners. After moving to Miami to expand her empire, the death of her second husband gave rise to her nickname The Black Widow. She later moved to California, was deported to Colombia and was gunned down in 2012. During her time, Blanco’s drug distribution network spanned across the United States and she was suspected of ordering over 200 murders.
Still, there was “something fantastic about how she was the boss in a dangerous man’s world,” Zeta-Jones said. “You gotta give it to her. I remember saying as bad as she is, I’m going to make people kind of like her.”
Speaking about returning to television, Zeta-Jones, who also recently appeared in FX’s Feud, said she was “happy, lucky and blessed to be back” and that she “definitely would love to do more… Years ago, there was a stigma. I was stuck in the showgirl theater box. Eventually I made it into television in Britain and then made it to film. If you got to do film, you don’t go to TV. That has changed. Actors are able to do human stories, they don’t have to be robots for a $200M movie. This is why we do it, to have those international human stories that any culture can understand.”
The Oscar winner went through a physical transformation to play Blanco. “I gained weight, I was hunched over. If I had balls, I’d have grabbed them from time to time. I wanted to let it all hang out. She thought she was beautiful. She was the movie star starring in her own movie. She didn’t give a s***.”
The star was asked what lessons Blanco could offer to women in today’s world. Said Zeta-Jones, “As women we get knocked down for being ambitious. I often wish we could take a little bit of that true ambition and be proud of it. I wouldn’t be talking to you today if I didn’t have an inherent ambition. You make your own luck. Yes, there are people who help along the way, but weird enough, the harder I work, the luckier I get… Take credit for yourself. The humble crap is good, but it gets boring.”
Cocaine Godmother premieres in 2018 on Lifetime.