Dr. Sanjay Gupta on his role in 'Contagion'
September 9th, 2011
04:06 PM ET

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on his role in 'Contagion'

Dr. Sanjay Gupta didn't have to stretch much to portray a journalist who asks some tough questions in the new film "Contagion."

CNN's chief medical correspondent even offered star Laurence Fishburne some advice as the pair spent time together in makeup. In the film, Fishburne plays Dr. Ellis Cheever, who is the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when there is an international epidemic which threatens the world's population.

The actor picked Gupta's brain for some advice about medical ethics.

"One of the big medical, ethical dilemmas is [when] you know a piece of information that is confidential. If you release it, it could cause panic and harm – but not releasing it could put your own family in danger – what do you do?" Gupta said. "That was sort of the moral quandary that Cheever faced...We ended up talking a lot about that."

Gupta said he's a fan of "Contagion's" director, Steven Soderbergh, who, he added, worked hard with writer Scott Z. Burns to accurately portray a scenario as terrifying as a worldwide epidemic.

"I think it's frighteningly realistic," Gupta said. "Scott is brilliant and he spent so much time researching this. The pathogen that was created for this movie is obviously fictitious, but it was created with the help of infectious disease experts."

As a matter of fact, the physician went on, the realism in the script and the documentary-style filmmaking Soderbergh favors might be unsettling to some viewers.

"I think people will have a sense of discomfort in some sense watching this," Gupta said. “The balance here is that there is a lot of science in this movie and it will be interesting to see how audiences respond to it.”

As for rating his performance in the small role, Gupta jokingly said he would characterize his appearance as brief.

“I have a whole new respect for actors and what they do,” he said, laughing. “I was playing myself and it was challenging.”

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Mr. McPheebee

    Does Sanjay EVER go home??

    September 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dan, TX

    One problem with this movie is that it has the US as having the most sophisticated biomedical research in the world. We have just frozen NIH and other science (domestic spending) budgets for the next 10 years. It is very likely we are going to cut spending in the next round. The republican presidential candidates all doubt evolution – a well established fact of science. I see that as the surest sign that America is no longer the best country in the world.

    September 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dr Bill Toth

    An all too realistic scenario. Wash your hands, be prepared and buy an island. Live With Intention, DrBillTothCom/Blog

    September 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Linda

    If you do see this movie, bring hand sanitizer with you because, trust me on this, you will want to wash
    your hands (a lot) when you leave the theatre. Good movie.

    September 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kisa Kisa

    Gotta see this... So worth it!!!


    September 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BJB

    I saw the movie yesterday and it was good. However, I was a little disappointed in Dr. Gupta's role. I have always respected him as a physician but I thought he came across as unethical. He appeared to be encouraging Jude Law who, in my opinion, was a egotistical jerk which was OK because that was the part he was playing. However, I didn't want to see Dr. Gupta feeding to his ego. I see Dr. Gupta as more honest and straightforward.

    September 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Badonkadonk!

    i hope gwynneth paltrow shows her yoohoo in this movie!!

    September 12, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alicia

    I have seen this movie at the theatre this weekend and truly enjoyed it. The actors played very well and a star cast makes you really believe this thing could be real. The movie is not about people so much as about a virus who tries to survive by jumping from one host to another. Intresting emotinal dilemma of Dr Cheever (Fishburn) is quite interesting in the movie as well. I certainly recommend this movie and it does make you wanna wash your hands more often!

    September 12, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. AJ

    weird thing happen to me the other day, someone called me from L.A and told me Matt Damon was in my Movie. Haha..

    September 11, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. Artinlight

    Breeding fear and manifesting control into machine like actions of masses destined to become extinct or destroy the idea of hierarchy.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mrfabulous46

    No offense my man, but sequel?? CONTAGION II – A NEW HOPE. Huh?

    September 10, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. old-iron-collector

    Saw last nite; movie not bad at all. The way it ended I see sequel possibilities.

    September 10, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. davinia

    I have a in-depth respect for personnel in the medical field who on a daily basis deal with unknown diseases that could wipe out a society. I hope viewers of this movie are not just looking for the scare factor, but awareness of how they can participate in stifling known and unknown diseases.

    September 10, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mrfabulous46

    15th!. Saw it this afternoon & really was into it the first hour. Great buildup, tense, well acted, scary even. Then it pretty much fell apart & went with a canned ending. Expected more Soderberg. Ridley Scott probably woould've handled the story better.

    September 10, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. so?

    Firsty doesn't count unless you comment! Put your brain to good use – if you have one!!

    September 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  16. the bungler


    September 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  17. ben dover


    September 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Winfrey Young

    Love me some Morpheus.....

    September 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  19. dan

    I'm at the movie!

    September 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Icepick

    Big stars; lousy reviews. I'll wait for this one to come to cable.

    September 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • firehairedwoman

      I agree. Don't waste your money on this one.

      September 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • laneyluv

      I agree. Don't waste your money on this one.

      September 12, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      83% on RottenTomatoes and 7.6/10 on IMDB is "lousy reviews"? It's not Godfather II but it's still an alright movie. I saw it over the weekend, wasn't bad if you're good with movies that don't dumb themselves down to the absolute lowest common denominator.

      September 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Nathan G

    It's Outbreak for a new generation! I remember Rene Russo and Dustin Hoffman, in the original "airborn pathogen gone awry" flick of the 90s, made me cringe. I hope this one does the same! I'm seeing it, for sure!

    September 9, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • chad

      outbreak was andromeda strain for tour generation. except in both AS and outbreak the pathogen was contained.

      September 10, 2011 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  22. Firsty firstelsen


    September 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  23. alecia

    I love these types of movies and love Soderberghs filming style as well. I am so there!

    September 9, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Tupac

    I might see this film.

    September 9, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  25. chuck


    September 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  26. xman


    September 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |

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