Julianna Margulies has been cast in the lead role for National Geographic’s new scripted series “The Hot Zone,” the network announced Wednesday during its panel at the Television Critics Association Summer 2018 press tour.
The “ER” and “Good Wife” alum will play Dr. Nancy Jaax in the series, which is based on the book by Richard Preston. The story is based on the true story of the Ebola virus’ origins in the central African rain forest and first arrival in the United States. The virus first appeared in chimpanzees in 1989 in a scientific research lab in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Margulies’ character is a U.S. Army scientist who works with a secret military SWAT team to keep the outbreak from reaching humans.
“The Hot Zone” is described as “a dramatic, high-stakes scientific thriller with a courageous, brilliant and determined heroine at its center.” The series will begin production in Toronto and South Africa this fall.
“Julianna is dream casting for the role of Dr. Nancy Jaax,” Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president, global scripted development and production, National Geographic, said. “Her rare combination of warmth, strength, humor and intelligence are the perfect recipe to make this terrifying true story feel relatable, grounded and human. ‘The Hot Zone’ is the perfect example of National Geographic’s commitment to premium, brand-relevant storytelling that is at once wildly entertaining and deepens people’s understanding of the world.”
“We’re excited to once again partner with National Geographic, along with Scott Free and Lynda Obst, to tell this riveting true story,” Andy Bourne, senior vice president, development, Fox 21 Television Studios said. “With the combined prodigious talents of our producing team, showrunners and the virtuoso Julianna Margulies, this series will inspire and terrify viewers in equal measure.”
“After working on ‘The Hot Zone’ for over 20 years, I’m thrilled to finally be able to bring the true story of the origins of Ebola to the screen through our partnership with National Geographic, Scott Free and Fox 21. With the threat of global pandemics more relevant and urgent than ever, now is the perfect time to tell this compelling story,” added executive producer Lynda Obst.
Margulies is currently starring as Kitty Montgomery in AMC’s “Dietland,” and has recently appeared in “Three Christs” and “The Upside.” She has won three Emmy Awards, one in 1995 for her supporting role on “ER” and again in 2011 and 2014 for her leading role on “The Good Wife.” She is repped by WME.
“The Hot Zone” is executive produced by Lynda Obst Productions, Scott Free Productions, Kelly Souders & Brian Peterson, Jeff Vintar and Fox 21 Television Studios.