from USA Today / by Bryan Alexander
That strained look Marion Cotillard gives onscreen as a World Health Organization official racing against time to contain a worldwide pandemic in Contagion wasn’t entirely movie acting.
Cotillard tells USA Today there were other factors at work.
“I was pregnant on the set. And I was in Hong Kong. It affected me in a different way,” she says.
Appropriate for a movie which deals with the invisible world of pathogens, which opens Friday, Cotillard was concerned about the very air she was breathing.
“Hong Kong is so polluted. And I felt very uncomfortable which is good for the character,” she says. “I was in a situation where I was in places where the air was very, very hard to breathe. And I was not alone in my body.”
She says, “It emphasized the fear. Maybe not fear, but I was thinking about it all the time.”
Cotillard, 35, says her education filming the movie made her more hyper-aware of the potential of a real viral outbreak – such as the killer virus that wreaks havoc in the Steven Soderbergh-directed movie.
Playing Dr. Leonora Orantes, she prepared by working with actual world health officials, who try to mask their concern when working in the field. “Deep inside, you’re always scared you are going to be infected,” says Cotillard.
“The virus can travel everywhere,” she says. “It can be in the air. Especially in a place that’s very, very hot and humid.”
Cotillard’s real life situation had a happy ending. The Oscar-winning actress (for La Vie en Rose) and her French actor-director beau Guillaume Canet, 38, had a baby boy, Marcel, in May.