4 Nov 2011
Where I have my debut as a tv journalist, talk Contagion with Matt Damon and almost risk getting Gwyneth Paltrow killed off again. Only this time by boring her to death.
After a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) finds herself surprisingly sick and dies in the hospital to the astonishment not only of her husband Mitch (Matt Damon), but also of the medics.
In Contagion a fatal, new pandemic travels aross the world with the speed of a sneeze, while a handful of doctors race toward saving people and come up with a vaccine.
Not only is Steven Soderbergh’s new thriller extraordinarily well cast; having ‘Gwynnie’ choke within the first ten minutes echoes at-the-time-huge-star Drew Barrymore being slaugthered in the opening sequence of Scream. It is also a chillingly realistic account of how such a phenomenon would play out in real life.
“The truth is so much scarier than fiction,” Matt Damon told me, when I met the two stars, old friends back from shooting The Talented Mr. Ripley, for a tv interview in Venice in september.
I thought it would be fun to have Gwyneth Paltrow comment on the fact, that in this film it is not a testosterone Jason Bourne type, who struggles against the evil. Damon is just a guy trying to protect his daughter. Meanwhile, all the doctors and scientists are women, because this is, according to Soderbergh and script writer Scott Z. Burns’ research, the way it is today. So I asked her:
Is it a new trend, d’you think, that it’s the women saving the earth in this film?
She straigthens herself a bit, puts her bare arms around her long-stemmed legs, like a cat on a couch trying to find a more comfortable position, and purrs:
“Arent’ we always ..?”
I cut it out. You don’t really want people yawning at your first tv interview.
It is unlikely however, that the audience will be as bored watching Soderberg’s fascinatingly scary thriller, as Gwyneth Paltrow was talking to me.
Now, there’s a chance for a contagious yawn.