The Hot Zone, a dramatic miniseries adaptation of the eponymous best-selling 1994 non-fiction thriller by Richard Preston, is set to premiere on National Geographic in May.
The upcoming limited series tells the story of the first occurrence of the Ebola virus on U.S. soil. The virus first appeared among imported primates kept at a research laboratory in Washington D.C.
Nat Geo’s miniseries follows the race by the Army veterinary pathologist Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax and a SWAT team to contain the spread of the infection to the human population after it was detected among the laboratory primates.
Ahead of the premiere of The Hot Zone on National Geographic, we bring you everything you need to know, including release date, cast, plot, and trailers.
The Hot Zone release date on National Geographic
The Hot Zone will premiere on National Geographic on May 27, 2019 at 9/8c (9 p.m. ET).
How many episodes will The Hot Zone feature?
Nat Geo’s The Hot Zone: Production details
National Geographic first announced it had ordered the miniseries in April 2018.
The showrunners are Kelly Souders and Bryan Wayne Peterson, who co-executive produce with Lynda Obst, Brian Peterson, Jeff Vintar, and Ridley Scott.
The production companies involved in the series are Scott Free Production, Lynda Obst Productions, and Fox 21 Television Studios.
Filming of the miniseries started in September 2018 in Toronto, Canada, and ended in November 2018. Part of the filming also took place in South Africa.
The Hot Zone: Trailer
National Geographic released a trailer for the upcoming miniseries at the 2019 TCA winter press tour in February 2019. The trailer has since gone viral on YouTube, receiving more than 12 million views.
The Hot Zone: Cast
Nat Geo’s The Hot Zone stars Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies (who played attorney Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife) as Dr. Nancy Jaax, Noah Emmerich (The Americans) as Lt. Col. Jerry Jaax, Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) as Wade Carter, Topher Grace (The ’70s Show, BlacKkKlansman) as Dr. Peter Jahrling, Paul James (The Path) as Ben Gellis, Nick Searcy as Frank Mays, Robert Wisdom as Col. Vernon Tucker, and Robert Sean Leonard (House) as Walter Humboldt.
Grace Gummer (Mr. Robot) appears in a recurring role as Melinda Rhodes, while James D’Arcy (Agent Carter) guest stars as Trevor Rhodes.
The Hot Zone on Nat Geo: What is it about?
The Hot Zone is a miniseries based on the 1994 non-fiction thriller novel of the same name by Richard Preston. The book, inspired by true life events, traces the origins of the Ebola Virus and earliest incidents of the viral hemorrhagic fevers, caused by the Ebola viruses and the Marburg viruses.
The high-stakes, tension-soaked science thriller tells the terrifying true story of the origins of the highly infectious and deadly Ebola Virus in the central African rain forest and how it first arrived in the U.S.
The Ebola virus first landed on U.S. soil in 1989, when it appeared among primates imported from Africa and kept in a research laboratory located in the suburbs of Washington D.C. The appearance of the deadly virus among the primates caused concern because there was no known cure for the infection.
The Hot Zone follows Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax (Juliana Margulies), a courageous, heroic and brilliant U.S. Army veterinary pathologist working with a military SWAT team and putting her life on the line to contain the virus and stop it from spreading to humans.
Commenting on how playing the role of Nancy Jaax affected her, Margulies said she was scared by what she learned about the transmission of deadly disease while preparing for her role in the miniseries.
“I definitely wash my hands more,” she said. “I now carry wipes in my bag. I never used to do that.”
The creators of the miniseries were so committed to authenticity that during filming, Margulies was required to wear a cumbersome 50-pound rubber hazmat suit. But they had difficulties filming her with the suit because it was so thick that Margulies could not hear what other actors and members of the production crew were saying.
“My respect quadrupled for people who run the CDC, just by putting on the suit itself,” Margulies said at the TCA winter press tour. “These people are our heroes. They put their lives on the line.”
Topher Grace, who plays Dr. Peter Jahrling, another research scientist in the miniseries, also recalled how scared he felt when he first read Preston’s book in the eighth grade.
“This isn’t a fictional monster that’s chasing us. It’s real and it’s still alive and also it’s invisible,” he said.
The Hot Zone premieres on National Geographic on May 27, 2019 at 9/8c.