“I’m always interested in the moral ambiguities in all of us,” declares Tony Goldwyn about the complicated character he portrays in “The Hot Zone: Anthrax,” the latest installment of the hit National Geographic anthology drama thriller. “We all cross moral boundaries and tell ourselves that we’re not doing it, so Bruce had a need to see himself as a hero, and as a patriot and as a soldier of good and a do-gooder and that was tremendously important to him,” he explains, adding for our recent webchat that, “he really formed an identity of goodness, service, expertise, intellect and faith.” Watch our exclusive video interview above
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Goldwyn stars as real-life microbiologist Bruce Edwards Ivins in “The Hot Zone: Anthrax,” which is inspired by the non-fiction book of the same name by Richard Preston. Developed by Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders, it also stars Daniel Dae Kim, Harry Hamlin, Dylan Baker and Dawn Olivieri, taking place a few weeks after 9/11, when letters containing deadly anthrax powder were received by unsuspecting victims across the country. The limited series follows a team of FBI agents and scientists as they race to uncover who is responsible, as America was still paralyzed by paranoia and panic.
Goldwyn’s portrayal of Ivins is so compelling because each episode peels back layers of who this man was. He starts out as a dedicated lead anthrax researcher for the U.S. Defense Department, but we soon realize that he is deeply troubled and likely suffering from dissociative identity disorder, which inevitably draws attention to himself as a suspect in the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks. Peterson and Souders also expertly depict this consequential moment in time for the country, on the eve of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, re-creating well-known personas like Tom Brokaw (Hamlin) and Rudy Giuliani (Enrico Colantoni). They uncannily tap into this pivotal moment in history when America was paralyzed with fear, while the government was hell-bent on pinning the attacks on the Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein, a tragic world-changing turn of events that was ultimately based on flawed data and misinformation.
“We lived in Connecticut at the time, so 9/11 was deeply traumatic for everyone, but for people in the tri-state area around New York, we were still in shock three weeks after, and so this was very traumatic,” Goldwyn recalls. “A postal worker at a mail plant about 20 minutes from where we lived died of anthrax poisoning from this,” he says, “so Kelly and Brian’s script really brought me back and the fact that we were filming it in the midst of the darkest days of the pandemic. It was pretty surreal.”
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