Sarandon takes the role of the doctor, whose battle with breast cancer while working at a research station in Antarctica made headlines around the world, in Ice Bound, to be aired on True Movies (DSTV Channel 138) on Friday, March 11 at 20h45.
“I had huge empathy with Jerri who faced the ravages of a life-threatening disease in a remote location,” she said, revealing that she had her own breast cancer scare a number of years ago.
As the only doctor at the research station, Nielson had to diagnose herself and then work out her medical options. What she couldn’t do was fly to the nearest surgeon because the station was closed for nine months to incoming and outgoing traffic. And at one point, she seriously considered operating on herself.
Playing Nielsen, a strong woman who wanted a new adventure and was trying to escape an unhappy past, was appealing to Sarandon.“The healer suddenly needed help. As a confident woman, a woman who is often punished for being confident, that was one of the most important things that really struck a chord with me – just how hard it is to reach out to people.”
Sarandon admits that the cold weather during filming wasn’t the hardest part of the job: “The emotional aspects of the story were much tougher and I knew the portrayal couldn’t be sentimental.”
Said Dr Nielsen of her experience: “Many people when they have cancer do change. They change in a way that is very positive, and many say, ‘If I had a choice, I would have gotten cancer.’ For me, would I have gotten cancer at the South Pole if I had a choice? Yes. Because it is a profound experience that can change you and send you on a new pathway in life, and we often need obstructions so that we can make our life richer.”
A decade after she was rescued from the remote Antarctic research station, Dr Nielsen died after the cancer returned.
Friday, March 11 at 20h45
True Movies (DSTV Channel 138)
True Movies is aired in South Africa on DStv Channel 138 and is available to DStv premium customers. The channel is dedicated to true-to-life drama films, mostly made for television. It shows movies from a range of cinematic genres including romance, crime, drama and docu-soaps, mostly based on real-life events.