September 9th, 2011
04:06 PM ET
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.”
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