Lathan, who plays opposite Laurence Fishburne, has a small but important role in the star-studded film about the outbreak of a deadly disease.
ESSENCE.com spoke with Sanaa about the frightening flick and the one thing that can be even scarier… love.
ESSENCE.com: Your new movie “Contagion” is a suspense thriller, but it’s kind of scary too. What attracted you to this role?
SANAA LATHAN: I read the script and I was blown away by how real it felt and how terrifying it was. I loved how it followed a disease and interweaved it through all of these different characters. I wanted to be a part of it. It was such a great cast and I had the chance to work with Laurence Fishburne and Steven Soderbergh.
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ESSENCE.com: You play Laurence's wife in the film. How was that?
Sanaa: He was great. I’ve always been a big fan of his, as an actor. I’ve known him over the years through the business. It was an intense subject and you want to work with someone who is going to be right there with you. A giving actor.
ESSENCE.com: You have a strong background in theatre. If pressed, would you pick film or theater?
LATHAN: I love both, but if I had to pick, which fortunately I don’t have to, I’d pick film because theater is just so encompassing. Eight shows a week, one day off. I love the thrilling aspect of being on stage and playing a character from beginning to end with the audience right there. There is no other feeling like it. But it’s like doing a marathon and that’s why I like to do theater every now and then. In film, I love being on set and the idea of piecing the puzzle together to form a story. And in 20 years, I can show my grandchildren “Love and Basketball.” In theatre, it only lives on in the memories of the people who were there.
ESSENCE.com: Do you find that you’re in competition with the same Black women in Hollywood?
LATHAN: Not really. I’ve been in the business for over 15 years now. I’ve never felt that I was in competition with anyone. It’s also a state of mind. I believe that what’s yours is for you. It’s always worked out like that for me.
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ESSENCE.com: Are you single? As a celebrity, do you think it’s more difficult to date?
LATHAN: I'm single. I don’t know about it being more difficult to date because I don’t know anything else. I’ve spent all my adult years in this industry. I do have high standards. There are things I will and will not deal with. I’m actually very comfortable in my own skin. I’m comfortable being alone. I'd rather be alone than be in something that’s unhealthy.
"Contagion" opens nationwide on September 9th.