• Morgan Fagg

Contagious Celebrity Casting (Covid-19)

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

One of the things I have enjoyed about pandemic films in the past is the all-star casts.

Firstly Outbreak in 1995 had Dustin Hoffman arguing with his boss Morgan Freeman about the spread of infections and the measures that had to be taken.

Hoffman was joined by Rene Russo as his ex-partner and Cuba Gooding Jr as his inexperienced junior. His right-hand man was played by Kevin Spacey and Donald Sunderland played the sinister general making unethical decisions.

Wolfgang Petersen based the film on a book by Richard Preston called The Hot Zone.

Donald Sunderland is no stranger to being infected as he was also in Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978 and in real-life Kevin Spacey’s fictional presidency House of Cards came toppling down after a personal scandal and we have seen a very different tv president called Donal making terrible decisions that Morgan Freeman would never have made in any of his tv presidencies.

Patrick Dempsey played a small part in the film where he illegally imports the infected monkey. Patrick Dempsey is now best known as a doctor for his role as Dr McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy.

Watching Outbreak again recently, I noticed a lot of old tech that is still in use today. Huey helicopters and Hummer 4x4s which we would still expect to see used by armies around the world. Their suits were very futuristic for the time and exposed us to some of the procedures needed in combating a pandemic even if it was only an entertaining Hollywood film despite being based on a non-fiction book.

As I said, what a wonderful cast.

Fast forward to 2011 and Contagion starts with Gwyneth Paltrow as Patient Zero in which her husband played, by Matt Damon slowly finds out what happened while his wife was in Asia.

We follow Titanic’s Kate Winslet and the Matrix’s Laurence Fishburne as C.D.C. doctors investigating the spread of the contagion. Fishburne might be used to looking for the one in the Matrix but it is hard to find the cause of a contagious virus even as a lead forensic investigator on C.S.I. Vegas.

Jude Law played a bad blogger who spreads misinformation which is equally as dangerous. There have been many different films which have looked at outbreaks and apocalypses and I am reminded of 28 Days Later and the Resident Evil films but the best zombie film in my mind has to be World War Z.

A fun and very different film appeared in 2013 with Brad Bitt investigating a zombie apocalypse. Pitt travels the world where he meets soldiers in South Korea who first encountered the outbreak which later brought him to Israel which was well prepared for the zombie pandemic.

Their preparedness is beautifully explained in a scene where an Israeli official explains their concept of “The Tenth Man”. Basically it is a devil’s advocate whose job is to diverge from group think if 9 people agree on a decision. It is The Tenth Man’s duty to think differently and not ignore the information presented.

Brad Pitt ends up in Scotland where he meets a group of W.H.O. doctors in a research facility where one of the doctors was played by Peter Capaldi who is better known for playing Doctor Who on television.

Unlike Doctor Who, we can’t go back in time to get a contagion under control so let’s forget the fiction and take all precautions before Gweneth Paltrow finds herself buried in another box.

SEVERAL: Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman with Gweneth Paltrow in a box as Doctor Who's Tardis makes an appearance. I bet Kevin Spacey is glad he isn't the president and in charge of this epidemic.


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