According to Ehle, filming for the pandemic-nightmare drama – which features a star-heavy cast including Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet – became as much a science lesson as anything else.
The BAFTA-winning Ehle plays Dr. Ally Hextall, a CDC researcher (there was nobody quite as striking as Ehle in my university labs back in the day, but hey) frantically trying to develop a vaccine.
For this role, Ehle was taught by Columbia University boffin Dr. Ian Lipkin, a man once described by the New York Times as ‘the man from whom viruses can’t hide.’ And she loved every minute of it:
“To be able to do the kind of experiments and be talked through so many things I would have had to study for years to get a chance to do – to mash up brains and code things and discover sequencing. I came away with even more respect for science than I had before. Which I think is fairly unfashionable.”
Contagion landed in US cinemas on Friday, and has already scooped $23.5 million at the box office, an impressive chunk of its $60 million budget. The San Francisco Chronicle piece here is a bit toady (sample line: “The remarkably beautiful Ehle reads as warm, vivacious and possessed of a powerful intellectual curiosity” – vomit), but worth a read if you’re looking forward to the film as I am.