Catherine Zeta-Jones: Swansea freedom for Hollywood star

media captionCatherine Zeta-Jones says she is honoured to receive the accolade

Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones has returned home to Wales to be given the honorary freedom of the City and County of Swansea.

The actress, 49, was joined by her actor husband Michael Douglas, 74, and their son Dylan for the event.

During the ceremony, Zeta-Jones described the award as "a real honour".

The city was her family home until she hit fame in the US, in films such as Mask of Zorro and Ocean's 12 - with an Oscar for her role in Chicago.

The honour is part of celebrations marking Swansea's 50th year as a city.

The family posed for photographs and Zeta-Jones signed autographs before the ceremony.

Lord Mayor Peter Black said the ceremony "will be filmed and webcast, so if you don't want to appear on camera I suggest you leave", to which Zeta-Jones laughed loudly in response.

image copyrightWales news service
image captionZeta-Jones during the ceremony

Speaking afterwards, the actress said it was "wonderful" to be back in Swansea.

"It's wonderful to be home, with the sun out, having this award… it doesn't get better than this," she said.

Zeta-Jones also spoke about travelling home to Wales from London on the bus as a teenager, after Saturday night performances.

She added: "I never really left."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionEnjoying their summer break - the actress, son Dylan and husband Michael were at July's British Grand Prix
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionZeta-Jones and David Jason in The Darling Buds of May

"There's something very rooting to me to come home to Swansea, and be a part and be in touch with where I come from," Zeta-Jones went on.

When asked how the freedom compared with winning an Oscar, she said: "Well I didn't have to perform pregnant and sing a song here today!

"I feel very honoured to be recognised by the people who supported me from the very beginning and continue to support me."

The New York-based actress is the second woman to receive the honour, and the first in the last 100 years.

Zeta-Jones added that she is "spoiled" when she comes home.

"My mother makes a cup of tea every 20 minutes, I've got Welsh cakes on the side, I had fish and chips the first night we came," she said.

image copyrightWales news service
image captionThe ceremony took place at the Guildhall in Swansea
image copyrightWales news service
image captionZeta-Jones said it was "wonderful" to be home in Swansea

The council's leader said the freedom of the city award recognised Zeta-Jones' "ambassadorial role for Swansea and her services to film and charity".

"We have always been hugely proud of Catherine's achievements over the years," said leader Rob Stewart, when the honour was revealed in June.

Zeta-Jones began her career on the London stage before starring in the television adaptation of The Darling Buds of May alongside David Jason and Pam Ferris.

But it was in Hollywood and on Broadway where she became an international star.

As well as her Oscar in 2003 for best supporting actress, she won a Tony award for her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music and was appointed a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2010.

image captionZeta-Jones signed autographs for the gathered crowds
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionEven in the US, Zeta-Jones has been keen to support Wales. Earlier this year she attended the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Gala in New York with her son and daughter

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