The principal male roles were set. Christian Slater was signed to portray the Czar, and the central role of the charismatic mad monk Rasputin had been handed to Liam Neeson. But Alexandra's role was up for grabs. Julia Roberts, a natural choice, took herself out of the running, accepting a role that conflicted schedule-wise. Michelle Pfeiffer had a disagreement with Lee about the character's motivation and was rejected. After auditioning a who's who of Hollywood female leads, the field came down to two - Catherine-Zeta Jones and Jennifer Connelly.
CZJ used her influence as a Tinseltown power player to gain the advantage. Ang Lee was an admirer of her husband Michael Douglas who volunteered to appear in any future role Lee might have in mind - at a heavily discounted fee - in exchange for giving the role to his wife. The press ate up leaks originating from CZJ that she was 'confident' and 'thrilled to death' and that reports of her selection appeared to be true. Utter garbage, of course, but the kind of subtle pressure that often did the trick in a town where perception was often more important than reality!
Yet all of CZJ's strategies were backfiring. Ang Lee perceived desperation in the tactics, a signal to him that she feared her talent and beauty alone weren't enough. Lee tended to agree and the more he thought about it, the more he preferred the natural serenity that Jennifer Connelly projected - all the better to see her believable serenity shattered by the epic events that doomed Alexandra!
Lee made a call to Michael Douglas, expressing his respect for the actor and his genuine hope that they could work together soon. Then Lee made it clear that Jennifer Connelly and not CZJ was his choice to portray Alexandra on-screen.
Needless to say, Douglas was reluctant to share the bad news with his Welsh shrew - and with good reason. When he did, her legendary temper erupted and she flung precious objects around the bedroom. Only the sound of a priceless Ming Dynasty shattering at her feet snapped the rampaging brunette out of her rage. She next expressed her disappointment by throwing herself on the bed and sobbing uncontrollably into her pillow.
Finally, she recovered and snapped out the command, "Michael, come here NOW and hold me!"
The next morning, Ang Lee received a caustic e-mail from CZJ that said succinctly:
"Expect two less votes for 'Best Picture' and 'Best Director' dick head. When Connelly bails out on you mid-picture, don't call me - just kiss my ass!
When Jen arrived on the set for the first day's shooting, Lee handed her a copy of CZJ's e-mail for laughs. She allowed herself a good triumphant chuckle but her intuition told her this was the beginning, not the end, of CZJ's involvement with the film. Jen literally felt steel growing in her spine as she balled up the message and tossed it casually into a nearby trash can.
Weeks passed and the film was magical. Lee, who's standards were unusually high, couldn't believe how well things were progressing. The smoldering dynamic between Jen and Liam was extraordinary - their performances had 'Oscar' all over them.
News from the set was all over E!, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and in every trade paper in town as well as all the entertainment magazines! Unemployed for the moment, CZJ seethed with each glowing report that became public. Her jealousy toward Jen was rapidly approaching the boiling point - which on CZJ was always low anyway!
Catherine called two of her closest friends, Brooke Shields and Willow Bay and arranged a luncheon pity party. All three were nursing their own jealous grudges; Brooke against Andre's wife and new mom Steffi Graf and Willow against the wildly popular and hugely successful CNN morning anchor, Paula Zahn. The red wine flowed as they aired their grievances around the table.
"Trust me," the slightly tipsy Willow reassured Catherine. "Jen's a weakling. Way too prim and proper. You should go over there RIGHT NOW and put the slut in her place."
"Willow's right as usual," Brooke chimed in. "When you get in her pretty little pink face, she'll run like the 'Bambi' she is. That was YOUR ROLE girlfriend. Hee-hee-hee. I wonder how many times she sucked Ang's cock to get that part?"
CZJ smiled wickedly as she rubbed her balled up right fist menacingly on her open left palm.
'No time like the present,' she thought.
CZJ threw back her eighth, or was it ninth, glass of Merlot, rose unsteadily with a hand on Willow's shoulder and screamed at the valet to have her limo brought around. She leaned over the table and kissed Willow and Brooke, giving the women at the next table a good glimpse of her ass as her short shirt rose in the back. Then she flounced out in a huff and threw herself into the back seat and told the driver to take her to the set where Jennifer was filming.
Once she arrived, CZJ tip-toed around the wall to the edge of the set. The entire crew was silent and spellbound as a critical love scene between Jen and Liam was taking place. As Jen opened her mouth to speak a critical line, the still unseen CZJ made a sound like a greasy fart with her mouth. The scene was ruined, and the smirking, hands-on-hips Welch witch couldn't have been prouder of herself.
Ang Lee was pissed, "Mrs. Douglas, what are YOU doing here uninvited, and what exactly was THAT about?"
"Oh darling, relax," she purred as she ran her fingers lightly over Ang's chest. "It just seemed like what Alexandra might have done at such a critical moment. Or perhaps I'm confused. Yes, that's it, I was mistaken. Actually, it's just something your precious JENNIFER would do!"
"Ang, lemme handle this", Jen demanded, as she took several determined strides toward CZJ who was standing regally with her arms folded over her bosom. "This's all about me and her anyway," Jen added as if anyone doubted it for a second.
"Clever girl," CZJ nodded. "She's right, Ang baby. It's a 'girl' thing," the words snapping like bullets from her thin, sinister lips.
"Talk or fight," Jen sneered. "It's your choice. Just quit wasting everyone's precious time!"
"Easy choice, sweetie," CZJ replied as she whipped out her open hand, landing a swift slap that included a nail-dragging rake across Jen's flawless pale cheek.
Jen recoiled then came erect as she calmly wiped away the blood CZJ's claws had raised on her cheek.
As Jen stood erect, her back ram-rod straight and started to plant her hands on her hips, CZJ showed off a newly acquired kick boxing skill, driving a series of stinging kicks into Jen's abdomen and kidneys that sent her staggering backward across the set. Christian Slater rushed forward to separate the two hellcats, but Ang Lee grabbed his arm to prevent his interference. The fight was being caught on film by the still-running cameras and the director Lee believed he was watching the making of a Hollywood classic.
Catherine continued to pressure the retreating Jen, peppering her with a clever hook and jab attack that had her head bouncing around like a bobblehead doll in a seismic tremor. As the villainess moved in to further plunder her rival's cushy midsection, Jen landed her first meaningful blow; a short, sharp, hard right to CZJ's cute little 'innie' navel. Her mouth opened in response and the smell of alcohol on her hard exhale of breath registered in Jen's angrily flared nostrils.
Jen got 'on her bicycle' as she began to dance away from CZJ's crude, straightforward attack. The unwelcome visitor was swinging and kicking wildly, but Jen was light on her feet and she managed to cleverly avoid almost every one of CZJ's thrusts. Frustrated, CZJ dropped her fists to the side and bull-rushed Jen. She wrapped her arms around Jen's waist as she slammed her shoulder into her chest and drove her to the floor. Straddling her, CZJ ripped open Jen's low-cut czarina's gown and dug her sharp nails into Jen's bared breasts.
But CZJ’s wild, single-minded focus on doing tit damage played right into the patient Jen’s hands. Fighting through the pain in her chest, Jen grabbed a fistful of CZJ's raven hair and jerked her head down and forward as she raised her forehead to meet it. In a titanic collision of bone on bone, Jen’s forehead came out the clear winner. Maintaining her tight grasp of the dazed Catherine-Zeta’s hair, Jen cracked her forehead into CZJ’s face again - with similar results. CZJ's alcohol-addled brain began malfunctioning under the strain as she slowly rolled over to the side, losing her vice-like hold of Jen's badly battered boobs.
Jen got to her feet and stood over the addled CZJ, then unleashed a crushing series of belly, breast and kidney kicks that took the starch out of the rapidly fading villainess. Pinning her face down on the floor, Jen used her heavy nineteenth century costume boots to devastating effect as she drove debilitating heel stomps to the small of Catherine-Zeta’s back and the rear of her skull with brutal efficiency.
The Welch witch groaned pathetically as Jen kicked her over onto her back and stood over her, her legs straddling the moaning CZJ as she reached up under her full dress and ripped off her panties. Jen flipped up her dress and, after a bow toward the camera, turned and slowly sat back onto CZJ's ghostly pale face. Jen ground CZJ’s face under her firm, shapely ass while she mugged and blew kisses to Liam, Ang, Christain while the crew stood open-mouthed, stunned by her wicked wantonness.
CZJ’s long legs kicked and her hips bucked - hysterically, pathetically…and vainly! The total effectiveness of Jen's ass-smothering became evident when CZJ’s kicking and thrashing slowed until it had almost stopped entirely. But Jen was committed not to mere victory but to her rival's complete devastation. While Jen delighted at the tickling sensation CZJ's nose caused as it stroked deep in her butt crack, her hands were busily shredding CZJ’s expensive silk blouse.
With Catherine-Zeta’s full breasts bared, Jen began to administer richly-deserved payback as she first used her open hands to whip the freely flopping tits back and forth, using just the tips of her fingers to smack the bouncing udders back and forth until the pale skin was a rich shade of dark pink. Then, Jen's fingers, fists and razor-sharp talons took their terrible toll on the haughty villainess' pride and joys.
Ang directed the camera men to pan in for the obligatory close-up as Jen twisted Catherine-Zeta’s erect nipples cruelly, bringing the stiff little peaks of tawny flesh to full, firm erection before she closed her fists and speed-bagged the traumatized flesh until CZJ's swollen and bruised breasts became a grotesque mockery of their former splendor.
All the while, Jen continued to ride her rival's bucking face like an obedient pack mule.
Finally, Liam walked over and suggested, "I think you've proved you point, my dear. It's over! Let the bitch get a whiff of fresh air."
He offered his hand elegantly to his victorious costar and as Jen rose elegantly and straightened her dress back down over her smooth, round bottom and her firm thighs, CZJ lay coughing and wheezing, getting her first exposure to fresh air after several long minutes of inhaling only the sweet smell of Jen’s aroused girl-sex. Jen got to her feet and strode rapidly off the set without a backward glance at either Catherine-Zeta or the director. Only the camera saw the hysterical expression on her mascara streaked face and captured the stark image for posterity as she made a quick and disgraceful exit.
"That's a wrap, folks!" a jubilant Ang Lee announced once he was able to speak again. "Don't we have a little champagne on ice around here?"
"Sure!" replied a delighted junior assistant who hurried to find it.
"Then, I propose a toast," Lee shouted as glasses of bubbly were quickly distributed. "To Alexandra, noble and brave Czarina of Russia," he said as Jen reappeared, her make-up repaired and her face once again radiant. "And to Jen Connelly, the best damn catfighter in Hollywood. Long live the Queen," he added as Liam raised the blushing Jen's right hand in victory.
"And to another date with Oscar, my Lady," Liam said, raising his glass to Jen.
The jubilation on the set continued as night began to fall. No one noticed, or cared, as CZJ slunk away into the shadows and slipped out the door through which she’d entered. In the back of her limo as it sped away, Catherine-Zeta Jones passed out in a puddle of her own vomit. At home, a disgusted Michael Douglas made his foul-mouthed, rank-smelling wife sleep on a fold out cot in the garage. There Catherine-Zeta dreamed about getting revenge for her humiliation and she started making a list of all the other women who she vowed would feel her wrath, including (there were many names on what was becoming a VERY LONG list) Charlize Theron, Ashley Judd and Penelope Cruz.