PASADENA, Calif. – After filming a miniseries about Ebola, it seems pretty reasonable that you might watch your hands a little more than usual. But Julianna Margulies took that advice to an extreme.
Margulies (“ER,” “The Good Wife”) stars in National Geographic’s miniseries adaptation of Richard Preston’s 1994 book “The Hot Zone,” due May 27, which traces the origins of the virus.
She explained that while researching for a role as Nancy Jaxx, a government pathologist who helped head off a potential Ebola outbreak in 1989, she became more aware of hygiene and germs.
“I definitely wash my hands more, and am very aware of what I’m touching and where things might have been,” she told the Television Critics Association on Sunday. “I now carry wipes in my bag. I never used to do that.”
“It’s also not just the hand-washing,” she added, as she described working with her character’s real-life nephew, an infectious disease specialist, on the series.
“He told me infectious disease specialists never touch their face. And he said now that you know, you’re going to watch people, and you’re going to see how often they touch their face. … So now I’m always sitting on my hands. It is kind of fascinating; it’s really horrible.”
Working on “Hot Zone” has also made the actress more aware of the disease, and she’s concerned it’s not bigger news.
“There were a lot of stories about Ebola the whole time we were shooting,” she said. “Every day there seemed to be another story about Ebola in small print. I found it disturbing that it wasn’t on the front page. … It just makes our show more relevant and more timely. … People think because Ebola is found in these faraway African villages it has nothing to do with us here in the U.S.,” she said. “My reaction is that it’s good that it’s out there, that people understand that it’s something we need to take seriously. But I don’t see any action.”
Unfotunately, NBC’s “ER” didn’t prepare Margulies for wearing hazmat suits and talking about viruses in “Hot Zone.”
“Being a nurse in ‘ER,’ aside from the fact that you’re dealing with gloves and blood, is completely different from being a pathologist,” she said, comparing her roles. “It didn’t, sadly, help at all. Because I don’t have a medical brain, so none of the terminology stays there. I memorize it … I can’t hold it. Otherwise I’d think I’d be doing really important work.”
But some of her time on television has stuck in her mind, particularly what she learned playing an attorney on CBS’s “Good Wife.”
“The lawyer stuff stays!”
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