Steven Soderbergh has been keeping busy in quarantine writing new screenplays (including a sequel to “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”) and leading the DGA’s committee to figure out how to get back to work, but what everyone wants to know is how the filmmaker predicted the current pandemic in his 2011 thriller “Contagion.” The outbreak movie surged in popularity this year amid the pandemic. Soderbergh said in a 2011 interview that making “Contagion” made him realize a real pandemic would be inevitable. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times this week, Soderbergh doubled down and said our current pandemic doesn’t surprise him one bit.
“Everybody we talked to when we were preparing that film, every expert, when we asked them how will the next one start, to a person, they said, wet market, Asia, there’s probably going to be a bat involved,” Soderbergh said. “Literally all of them. Ten years ago, 11 years ago. So it’s not a surprise.”
If “Contagion” prepared Soderbergh for how a global pandemic would play out in the real world, the one thing making the movie did not prepare the filmmaker for was the human response. As Soderbergh explained, “It’s been fascinating to see the aspects of this narrative play out that we didn’t think about. The sociological behavior, how people have behaved as individuals, as states, as countries — that’s been really fascinating. And something that very purposely, Scott and I were trying to keep the narrative very focused and we had rules about points of view and what we can see and what we couldn’t see.”
“But wow, there’s a lot of really fascinating human behavior that we didn’t even think about when we were doing this,” the filmmaker added. “It’s just a reminder of how deeply irrational we are. When we’re put into some sort of fear-threat space, we become deeply illogical. It’s crazy to witness.”
In an interview earlier this year, Soderbergh’s “Contagion” screenwriter Scott Z. Burns slammed Donald Trump for his response to the pandemic. Burns claimed the country was “in a better place to deal with” a virus outbreak when he was doing research for “Contagion” prior to 2011 than the country was in 2020 when the virus hit. Read Soderbergh’s latest interview on the LA Times’ website.