MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee native was supposed to spend several months in China for a work trip, but the work on an upcoming film was cut short by the coronavirus. FOX6 spoke with Ryan Maurer Sunday, Feb. 23 -- happy to be home.
Maurer looked at his China trip as a way to kill two birds with one stone -- expand his foreign acting career while getting away during the worst of Wisconsin's winter. Not long after he touched down in China did the virus outbreak throw those plans out the window.
Shortly after Maurer graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee he went to Korea to teach English -- eventually getting into the acting and film world -- showing up in Korean spots and films.
"Couple months ago, an agency said, 'We have this shoot coming up. Are you interested? Should we submit your profile?'" said Maurer.
The 33-year-old jumped at the chance to be part of a big-budget Chinese film production and got the part.
"Flight was Jan. 15," said Maurer.
Maurer flew into northern China before traveling to a city near the North Korean border, where filming was taking place.
"And about a week later, the news slowly started to come out, but by the end of January, the news really started to break, and the severity started to become more clear," said Maurer.
The coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, more than 2,000 miles away, was a big deal.
Maurer quarantined himself in his hotel room, and when he did venture outside, he was greeted by loudspeakers and signs, urging people to protect their health and fight the virus.
"I mean, the town was a ghost town," said Maurer. "There were actually notices that went out to businesses to stay shut down."
Eventually, the production company booked flights out, including a bus to the airport, and once there, it, too, was eerily empty.
"It felt like, kind of a bad movie," said Maurer.
Maurer flew out on Jan. 31 to Bangkok. He hoped to travel on to India but learned it wouldn't be allowed.
"Countries started to put in the new regulations, and immigration stuff, as far as if anyone has visited China within the last month," said Maurer.
Sitting on his couch in West Allis Sunday put the whole ordeal into a much larger perspective.
"I just think the effects of this virus are just like, spreading far and wide," said Maurer.
Maurer said he did have to check in with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials regarding his travels once he landed at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.
As for the film, Maurer said he hopes to go back to China, but that would obviously have to wait until the outbreak subsides.