Kate Winslet's role as an epidemiologist in 2011’s Contagion made her uniquely prepared for the current coronavirus pandemic.
The actress, 44, whose starring in the upcoming Ammonite, told The Hollywood Reporter in a new cover story that her time working on Steven Soderbergh's Contagion made her hyper-aware when the coronavirus began spreading in China and Europe. She had been shooting in Philadelphia when the virus started making news.
“People thought I was crazy because I had been walking around wearing a mask for weeks, going into the grocery store and wiping everything down with isopropyl alcohol and wearing gloves,” she said, referencing the early days of the pandemic. "Then all of a sudden March 13 came around, and people were like, 'F—, where do I get one of those masks?'"
Winselt, who said she even embedded with CDC epidemiologists to research her part in Contagion, also shared that she has had two close friends who have been directly impacted by the virus.
“One was in L.A. and was very lucky to get on a trial using convalescent plasma and did really, really well in the space of, like, 72 hours after the treatment,” the Titanic actress said. “And a dialect coach who lives in London has had it, was in hospital for 11 weeks, is out, and has had every lung test, blood test, blood pressure test, and is clear of everything but just cannot get better — is breathless, lethargic, still feels very unwell.”
Contagion PSAs: Kate Winslet Stresses the Importance of Hand Washing
In late March, Winslet and her Contagion costars — Matt Damon, Jennifer Ehle and Laurence Fishburn — got together for a digital reunion in which each actor filmed a PSA to keep fans educated about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the movie Contagion, I played an epidemiologist trying to stop the spread of a hypothetical virus,” Winslet said in her PSA, which focused on hand washing. “To prepare for the role, I spent time with some of the best public health professionals in the world. And what was one of the most important things they taught me? Wash your hands like your life depends on it because right now, in particular, it just might.”
“So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, a little bit powerless at the moment, here’s something we can all do to make a difference. And it doesn’t require a medical degree, or a microscope, or a ton of knowledge,” she added.
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