LOS ANGELES – Catherine Zeta-Jones was already a fan of “Prodigal Son,” so when the chance came to join the show, she jumped, lured by the prospect of working alongside Michael Sheen.
The Welsh actors were born in cities about an hour apart and moved in similar circles during their youth without ever knowing each other. She was born in Swansea and Sheen was born in Newport seven months apart.
“We have all these mutual friends, but we’ve never crossed. My mom and dad know his dad,” she said Tuesday in a virtual Television Critics Association panel. “It’s bizarre. That was, of course, a huge pull for me.”
Zeta-Jones joins Fox’s “Prodigal Son” in Tuesday's episode, directed by co-star Lou Diamond Phillips. Previously, the Oscar winner had done guest episodes and appeared in TV movies and miniseries, but never a regular series role.
She plays Dr. Vivian Capshaw and Alan Cumming appears in two episodes as a cocky Europol agent.
“It’s a family drama with a twist of danger and it’s a dark family,” Zeta-Jones said. “I gravitate to kind of dark material.”
Sheen’s presence increased the comfort level for Zeta-Jones to come onto a set where the cast and crew had already been together for a season. He plays an incarcerated serial killer surgeon.
“As soon as Lou shouted, ‘Cut,’ Michael and I went into inside jokes, Tommy Cooper impressions,” she said, referring to the British comedian.
Phillips said, “She came like a team player, she came to play. It was seamless.”
Zeta-Jones told her agent she wanted to join the show on the same day she was watching “The View” talk show.
“Whoopi Goldberg just randomly gives it this incredible kind of thumbs up and I’m like, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m talking about,’” she said. “That was like a stamp of approval that came from nowhere.”
The show’s second season is currently airing on Fox, and the first season began streaming Tuesday on HBO Max.