Zeta-Jones and co-star Lisette Olivera interview each other ahead of the Disney+ launch of 'National Treasure: Edge of History.'
The National Treasure universe expands with Disney+'s new series, National Treasure: Edge of History, which stars Catherine Zeta-Jones as black-market antiquities dealer Billie Pearce, and Lisette Olivera as Jess Valenzuela, who finds herself caught up in the world of treasure-hunting after learning an ancient artifact may be a connection to her late father. The upcoming action-adventure series continues the story established by the popular Nicolas Cage films in 2004 and 2007, and reunites original screenwriters Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley, with Justin Bartha and Harvey Keitel back in the fold.
To tee up the launch of Edge of History, Zeta-Jones -- rocking a chic blonde wig for the role -- and Olivera put on their interviewers' hats for ET on the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, set in June and interviewed each other, where they discussed their new take on the National Treasure franchise, how Zeta-Jones' kids reacted to her joining the show, the dynamic between their characters and why Zeta-Jones believes Olivera is an actress to watch.
"Our National Treasure series is an extension of the original movies," Olivera said. "My character, Jess, is similar in a sense to Ben's fantastically brilliant mind and it picks up this story of this lost Pan-American treasurer who seems to be connected to her family, so she takes on the adventure thinking that maybe she can reconnect with herself and who she is."
Edge of History, as Zeta-Jones tells it, keeps with the DNA of what made the films so successful -- hinging everything around an adventure quest.
"I think particularly now, in this day and age for me and my family, is that when we tune in to see something, we want to be taken out of this room," the 53-year-old actress said, referring to the feeling of escapism through the National Treasure adventures. "This National Treasure universe and movies were such great adventures. You get taken on a rollercoaster and we are part of it and as the movies were unfolding, as with our television series, we, as the audience, are plotting along with the past and trying to figure out the clues and trying to be one step ahead."
"It is wonderful to have costars who were in the original [movies] because it brings an authenticity to the piece and for those die-hard National Treasure [fans], it's a little bit of a character to bring them in, and our writers are doing a great job of incorporating such well-rounded characters within this fantasy world," Zeta-Jones noted.
When the Oscar winner joined the series, it wasn't just her that was brimming with excitement over the new gig. Her kids, 22-year-old son Dylan and 19-year-old daughter Carys, were just toddlers when the movies originally came out. But now that they're older, Zeta-Jones revealed they discovered the Nicolas Cage movies and became fans.
"I said, 'Look, I'm doing this show. You wouldn't have seen it, you were only babies when it came out but you know how much I love history and treasures," Zeta-Jones shared. "[My son] went, 'Are you doing National Treasure?' I went, 'How do you know about that?' And they said, 'Are you kidding me? We love those movies!' And all their friends, when they found out I was cast, there were high-fives. I became the coolest mom ever."
"And that’s what’s so amazing about us being a part of National Treasure with Nicolas. It spans generations," she added. "I remember it coming out when my kids were babies and now my kids have been watching it and now, they want to see the next installment. They want to see the next generation. So, that’s what makes me extremely hip and cool with my kids and very excited as a mother."
While Bartha and Keitel, who both appeared in the National Treasure films are back for the Disney+ series, Olivera hopes one day Cage will grace his presence again as Benjamin Franklin Gates. "Catherine, what do we need to do to get Nicolas Cage to guest star? Can we brainstorm a plan?" the young actress asked.
"I think what we should do, I think we should get all of us cast together, we should give him a little teaser of some of the great fun stuff that we're doing, so he wants to be part of our gang, and then we should literally all turn up at his house in the middle of the night and throw toilet paper all over his house and then say, 'If you don't come with us now, there's going to be some consequences,'" Zeta-Jones joked.
Olivera and Zeta-Jones also spoke about their characters' unique dynamic on Edge of History.
"It’s quite interesting working with someone who I love and aspire to be," Olivera said of Zeta-Jones. "Jess and Billie's dynamic is kind of similar in the sense that I can use -- I know that Billie has this resourceful mind as well. We both have this innate desire to discover the truth behind the treasure. It’s not necessarily just the treasure itself, but it’s the passion both of these characters have with the treasure, so, to be able to to go neck and neck with another woman who is so brilliant in the sense that things can just happen in her mind and she has a different way of thinking than others, it’s quite unique. Obviously there’s some pressure there."
"I've had so much fun, I see so much of myself in you actually," Zeta-Jones said to her co-star. "I see a little of myself in the real world in you but in this particular character, how exactly you said, is we grew up the same mind. We are the same passion, our paths are..." "A little different," Olivera chimed in.
"But nevertheless, there's a bit of a cat-and mouse-aspect to our relationship in the show," Zeta-Jones teased.
Zeta-Jones went on to praise Olivera for always being prepared, treating everyone on set with respect and her work ethic.
"When we were off-camera, we were able to chat a bit and we have such a lovely relationship because we just chit-chat about anything and sometimes career pops up into it. What you're doing is really good and that's not just your work, but it's your work ethic, your attention to detail, it's the way you are on set. It's the way you treat everybody," she credited. "When we do a movie or a TV series, it takes an army and everyone is very important, and to be respected by all those people who are all there to make you the best they possibly can. And the way you respect them, it's really quite lovely, so never lose that."
"But what I would say to you, because I am sure there are going to be a lot of fun, wonderful things happening to you, is always never forget how exciting it is, never lose the wonderful craft that we are blessed with and being able to call ourselves actors," Zeta-Jones offered. "I've been doing this since I was 9 years old, and I think the longevity of my career has been that I’ve never got blasé about, first of all, how genuinely lucky I am to be an actor and then to work and be surrounded by the people who are all there to make you good and feel good."
But who would be the better treasure hunter in real life: her or her husband?
"My husband Michael Douglas," Zeta-Jones answered, before amending her response. "After 22 years of marriage we're a double act, so I think we would do very well together because my attention to detail and I love reading books. But my husband is very good at logistics, so I'd have this fantastical plan of getting down a cliff toward a ski onto a rock and he'd go, 'Yeah but the time is up, so we're not going to be able to do that.' So together as a team we'd be a fantastic treasure-hunting couple."
The first two episodes of National Treasure: Edge of History premiere Wednesday, Dec. 14 on Disney+.