National Geographic, Fox 21 Television Studios and Scott Free Productions today announced the cast joining previously-announced Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife, ER) in The Hot Zone, based on the eponymous international best-seller by Richard Preston. Noah Emmerich (The Americans), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), Topher Grace (BlacKkKlansman), Paul James (The Path), Nick Searcy (The Shape of Water), Robert Wisdom (The Wire) and Robert Sean Leonard (House) will all star in the six-episode global miniseries inspired by the terrifying true story of the origins of the Ebola virus and its first arrival on U.S. soil in 1989. James D’Arcy (Homeland) joins the cast as a series guest star. Production begins today in Toronto and will also shoot in South Africa in early December. The Hot Zone will premiere globally on National Geographic in 2019.
Emmerich joins as Lt. Col. Jerry Jaax, husband of Nancy Jaax (Margulies), who doesn’t hesitate to risk his life during the operation to contain the Ebola virus. Cunningham is set to portray Wade Carter, Dr. Nancy Jaax’s vital ally in the race to prevent the virus from spreading. Topher Grace is Dr. Peter Jahrling, virologist for the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, who butts heads with Dr. Jaax over the best way to contain the virus. James D’Arcy is Center for Disease Control official Trevor Rhodes, Carter’s former assistant and current nemesis. Paul James will play Ben Gellis, a lab tech at the pathology lab in Reston, Virginia, assisting Dr. Jaax and Dr. Jahrling. Nick Searcy is Frank Mays, the exhausted colony manager at the Reston Monkey Facility where the virus originated. Robert Wisdom joins as Col. Vernon Tucker of USAMRIID, Dr. Jaax’s superior. And Robert Sean Leonard will portray company man Walter Humboldt, the liaison between Hazleton, a scientific research corporation, and its primate lab in Reston.
Michael Uppendahl (Castle Rock, Fargo) and Nick Murphy (Save Me, The Secret) will serve as directors. Kelly Soulders (Genius, Salem) and Brian Peterson (Genius, Salem) are showrunners and executive producers.
The Hot Zone tells the story of the origins of Ebola, a highly infectious and deadly virus from the central African rain forest, and its arrival on U.S. soil in 1989. When this killer suddenly appeared in monkeys in a scientific research lab in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., there was no known cure. A heroic U.S. Army scientist working with a secret military specialized team put her life on the line to head off the outbreak before it spread to the human population. The Hot Zone is a dramatic, high-stakes scientific thriller with a courageous, brilliant and determined heroine at its center.
The Hot Zone is executive produced by Lynda Obst Production’s Lynda Obst and Scott Free Production’s Ridley Scott and David Zucker. Michael Uppendahl is also an executive producer. For National Geographic, Carolyn G. Bernstein is executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios, Lynda Obst Productions, Scott Free Productions, Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson and Jeff Vintar.