Jennifer Ehle Digging Scientist Role in ‘Contagion’

The King’s Speech and Pride and Prejudice star Jennifer Ehle has been gushing to the San Francisco Chronicle about her role in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion.

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.