"The fact that we were living through a pandemic while we were making a show about this was surreal."
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Actor Tony Goldwyn describes filming National Geographic's new show The Hot Zone: Anthrax during the COVID-19 pandemic as a deeply weird experience.

"It was crazy," says the Scandal star, who can currently be seen in the Oscars-buzzy film King Richard. "I mean, the fact that we were living through a pandemic while we were making a show about this was surreal. We shot in Toronto from February 'til June. It was four months in a lockdown, so I was basically alone. Plus, I was at work with masks and shields on my face. It gave me some pretty crazy dreams!"

Tony Goldwyn stars as microbiologist Bruce Ivins in National Geographic's upcoming series THE HOT ZONE: ANTHRAX. (National Geographic/Peter Stranks)
Tony Goldwyn stars as microbiologist Bruce Ivins on National Geographic's 'The Hot Zone: Anthrax.'
| Credit: Peter Stranks/National Geographic

Based on true events, the six-part series concerns the investigation that took place after politicians and media outlets were sent the deadly Anthrax bacterium in the weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim plays FBI investigator Matthew Ryker, an amalgamation of many agents, while Tony Goldwyn is Bruce Ivins, a real-life microbiologist who helped analyze the mailed material.

"As people might remember, three weeks after 9/11, there were some letters sent out that contained Anthrax, which is a deadly powder," says Goldwyn. "A major FBI investigation was launched, and our story follows that and the story of one of the senior Anthrax researchers of the U.S. Defense Department, who I play."

Tony Goldwyn stars as microbiologist Bruce Ivins in National Geographic's upcoming series THE HOT ZONE: ANTHRAX. (National Geographic/Peter Stranks)
Tony Goldwyn on 'The Hot Zone: Anthrax'
| Credit: Peter Stranks/National Geographic

To play the part, Goldwyn did as much research as he possibly could. "There was a very interesting biography written about Bruce called Mirage Man, so that was my primary resource. Then there were three or four other books that focused a bit more on the investigation." A technical advisor who was a scientist was also brought on board to make sure the specifics were airtight.

So how many times can you google "Anthrax" before the real-life FBI come knocking on your door?

"I don't know," Goldwyn says with a laugh. "Maybe because we had an FBI advisor, I didn't get any knocks on my door. So that was good."

The Hot Zone: Anthrax premieres tonight on National Geographic.

Watch the show's trailer above.

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