NatGeo’s ‘Fauci’ documentary explores what it means to be a public servant during a crisis, says director

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National Geographic for Disney+

We’ve all gotten to know Dr. Anthony Fauci pretty well over the past year and a half. Brad Pitt even played him on Saturday Night Live! But a new documentary aims to take us deeper into Dr. Fauci’s life and why he emerged on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

NatGeo’s Fauci, out now on Disney+, explores the immunologist’s storied career and takes us all the way back to when he was appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in 1984.

Co-director Janet Tobias spoke with ABC Audio about the new doc and reveals that it was actually in the works well before the word “coronavirus” touched headlines. 

“Tony Fauci has served now seven presidents [and] innumerable congresses. He’s testified in front of Congress more than any other living figure,” she said. “I was really interested in the idea of what it means in the 21st century to be a public servant.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the documentary’s original focus, of which Tobias said excited her colleagues because it meant they were handed a front row seat to watch history unfold.

“Tony was forged in the AIDS epidemic as a doctor, as a scientist, as a communicator,” the director said. “Then, of course, in COVID, he was tested in all those ways [again].”

Tobias said the documentary explores how he built “bridges between scientists and activists” during the AIDS epidemic and how, nearly 30 years later, he rebuilt those bridges “every single day” during the pandemic.

However, there was one major condition under which crew members were taken behind the scenes of Fauci’s life: “If you interfere with my work in any way, we will stop,” Tobias shared, adding, “Dr. Fauci was very clear with us from the beginning.” 

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