Interview: Julianna Margulies Digs Deep Into The Real Person's Mindset Behind The Hot Zone

Julianna Margulies The Hot Zone NatGeo

Nat Geo’s 6-part series “The Hot Zone” premiering Monday, May 27 stars Julianna Margulies as real-life CDC (Centers for Disease Control) scientist Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaxx who discovered the deadly Ebola zaire virus in Washington D.C. in 1989. The events chronicled on the show are based on Richard Preston’s best-selling novel, “The Hot Zone.” CineMovie sat down with Margulies to talk about getting into the mind of Nancy Jaxx, a mother and wife, who put her own life on the line for the good of society.

“The Hot Zone” not only recounts the events leading up to the discovery and eradication of the Ebola virus in 1989, but the six-part series also focuses on Nancy’s balance of work and home life. According to Margulies, Dr. Nancy Jaxx was the only woman in her field at the time. Personally, Margulies couldn’t even fathom the idea of putting herself in that situation.

“From my point of view as just an actor who can’t do anything, I was just so amazed that she could do her job and still be a mother and a wife and she didn’t think of it except she’s going to work. I loved getting into her brain. I can’t imagine getting excited about going into a biohazard level four lab to dissect what could possibly be a ebola zaire-infected spleen. To me, I don’t understand that way of thinking. I loved her perseverance.”

Julianna Margulies The Hot Zone

Most of us would agree CDC scientists like Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaxx are heroes for risking their lives to investigate deadly diseases and virus. However, Jaxx and her husband Lt. Col. Jerry Jaxx who worked alongside her in 1989 told us at the show's premiere that they don't see themselves as heroes.

When speaking to Nancy during her research for the role, Margulies asked what motivated her.

“I asked Nancy about that actually. I was curious to try to understand what was going on in her head when she entered into those labs knowing she could get contaminated. And she said she never thought about it. I was just excited to get in there. She thought about it afterwards when she got a tear in her suit.”

Julianna Margulies Noah Emmerich The Hot Zone

Afterwards, Margulies understood Jaxx's passion was the same as her love for acting. What she also found fascinating was her marriage to her colleague. "The Hot Zone" star believes the Jaxx's marriage endured because they were in the same profession and mutually respected each other.

The real-life events in "The Hot Zone" disturbed the actress and she fears it could happen again. Another fear she came away with was germs. She wasn't a germaphobic before shooting "The Hot Zone," but admits she's "full blown now."

Julianna Margulies is not alone. As a viewer, most will become more leery of shaking anybody's hand. "The Hot Zone" premieres Monday, May 27. 

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