January 15, 2002 11:45 AM

Catherine Zeta-Jones has signed a nine-film deal worth about $80 million — making her far and away Britain’s highest-paid actress, reports the London Evening Standard. Born in Wales, Zeta-Jones, 32, will make around 6 million pounds per film, says the paper, which notes that the “Traffic” and “America’s Sweethearts” actress intends to make the movies over the next three years before having any more children. She and husband Michael Douglas, 57, are the parents of a son, Dylan Michael, who was born Aug. 8, 2000, three months before the couple’s splashy New York wedding. The Standard said the actress embarked upon a “signing frenzy,” committing herself to several films before she plans to embark on her long-stated goal of having several children with Douglas. The paper also reported she is taking into account the fact that actresses have a harder time securing Hollywood roles once they hit the age of 40. Among the parts she reportedly is set to play are as follows: a felonious vamp in the movie version of the Broadway musical “Chicago”; a gold digger opposite George Clooney in the black comedy “Intolerable Cruelty”; and late opera icon Maria Callas to Russell Crowe’s Aristotle Onassis in the tumultuous love story “Greekfire.” As part of the deal, Zeta-Jones reportedly also will star in a sequel to 1998’s “Mask of Zorro” (again with costars Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas) and the courtroom drama “Smoke and Mirrors” with her husband, and will do a voiceover for the animated movie “Sinbad.” A spokesperson for Zeta-Jones later denied the report.

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