A-listers not spared in pandemic film "Contagion"

Sat Sep 3, 2011 9:23am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - Not even the A-listers are spared in "Contagion," a star-studded movie directed by Steven Soderbergh that recreates the outbreak of a global pandemic.

Audiences used to seeing the most famous faces last longest will be in for a surprise when they watch the slick, globe-trotting picture which is in competition at the Venice film festival.

The ensemble cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Ehle, most of whom were in Venice for the world premiere on Saturday.

Soderbergh, an Oscar winner for "Traffic" and best known for his "Ocean's" crime capers, said the complex nature of the film made Hollywood heavyweights particularly important.

"It's very helpful to have movie stars playing as many of these roles as you can, because you're throwing so many characters and so much information at the audience it's very helpful for them to get a sort of reference point," he told reporters in Venice.

"There's a reason that movie stars have existed since the beginning of cinema," he added after Contagion was warmly applauded at a press screening ahead of the red carpet premiere.

"It's good for audiences -- they like to have people they can identify with."

Contagion opens with a couple played by Paltrow and Damon who find themselves at the center of a global emergency that goes on to claim millions of lives.   Continued...