On the Page: The Five Most Terrifying Plot Elements of Steven Soderbergh's Contagion


With a cast that's set to include Oscar-winners Matt Damon (hey, Best Original Screenplay still counts), Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Gwyneth Paltrow, you'd be right to assume that Steven Soderbergh's upcoming global pandemic drama, Contagion, has quite the screenplay. And as it turns out, it does -- or so sayeth The Playlist which got its hands on Scott Z. Burns's script and is, for lack of a better term, in lurve. While comparing the screenplay favorably to Steven Gaghan's work on Traffic and Syriana (no word on how it stacks up to his rewrites on Medellin) they go so far as to predict that Burns will wind up an Oscar-nominee during whatever year the film gets released (right now it looks to be on course for 2011). No pressure, though! While in most circles, putting anything in the same sentence as Syriana would be enough to cause night terrors, have a look after the jump at the five other most terrifying parts of Contagion. [Spoilers follow, of course.]

· Jude Law as "The Ruthless Blogger"

As The Playlist accurately points out, co-star Jude Law is best suited for weird supporting roles (Road to Perdition, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Sherlock Holmes) rather than leading-man status. So that he'll get to turn the trick again in Contagion, as the ostensibly villain of the piece (a man with the unfortunate name of Alan Krumwiede), is good news. But, seriously: Would anyone believe that a "hungry, truth seeking blogger with an unfortunate interest in conspiracy theories" looks like Jude Law? No, didn't think so.

· Matt Damon and Kate Winslet as husband and wife

Sure, on paper they make a beautiful couple. But since Damon's character is described as "a non-mentally ill version of the man he played in The Informant" and Winslet's character, one of the first to contract the disease, is a variation on the suburban wife she played in Little Children and Revolutionary Road, you can expect two things: lots of screaming, dizzying arguments and delusional bombast. This already sounds exhausting. [UPDATE: It appears that Gwyneth Paltrow is actually playing Matt Damon's wife, while Kate Winslet is a doctor at the Center for Disease Control tasked with finding a cure. Much better!]

· All the social-media references

With the exception of a toss away Twitter joke in Hot Tub Time Machine, Hollywood has yet to embrace the whole Social Media 2.0 experiment. Yet Burns's script for Contagion hinges on the way information spreads quickly in today's society (get it, like a virus!). Will this be the movie that starts it all? When John Cusack is co-starring in Twitterfeed Time Machine, don't say you weren't warned.

· Steven Soderbergh's sleep schedule

Between Contagion, Knockout and his long-gestating projects about Cleopatra and Liberace, when does this guy have time to get some rest?

· Um, hello, the entire premise!

Contagion takes place over Thanksgiving weekend in America, and the disease in question, while not fatal to everyone, affects most of the population... around the world. If you've forgotten how you felt last year when swine flu was sweeping the nation (think: afraid to leave the house without a surgical mask), Contagion will surely remind you.

· Details on Steven Soderbergh's 'Contagion' Virus Film, Including Who Plays Who [The Playlist]


  • Fred says:

    hello don't worry, they just skim the surface, there's plenty more to go, it's a looong ass script.

  • Fred says:

    also, it's Paltrow who is the wife, they revised as well.

  • Mark H says:

    Scott Z. Burns was robbed of a nomination for 'The Informant'....his screenplay was amazing..glad to hear there's buzz already for his next.