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Chernobyl
Genre Historical drama
Created by Craig Mazin
Written by Craig Mazin
Directed by Johan Renck
Starring
Composer(s) Hildur Guðnadóttir
Country of origin
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 5 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Craig Mazin
  • Carolyn Strauss
  • Jane Featherstone
  • Johan Renck
  • Chris Fry
Producer(s) Sanne Wohlenberg
Production location(s)
  • Lithuania
  • Ukraine
Cinematography Jakob Ihre
Editor(s)
  • Jinx Godfrey
  • Simon Smith
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 60–72 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Sister Pictures
  • The Mighty Mint
  • Word Games
Release
Original network
Original release May 6 (2019-05-06) – June 3, 2019 (2019-06-03)

Chernobyl is a historical drama television miniseries, produced by HBO and Sky Uk. The series was written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck. The series narrates Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the cleanup efforts that followed. It features an cast led by Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, and Paul Ritter. The series premiered in the United States and the United Kingdom on May 6–7, 2019. It received mostly positive reviews.

Premise

Chernobyl dramatizes the story of the nuclear plant disaster which occurred in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Soviet Union), showing the stories of the people who caused the disaster and those who responded to it. The series depicts some of the least known stories of the disaster, including the efforts of the firefighters who were the first responders on the scene, volunteers, and teams of miners tasked with digging a critical tunnel.

The miniseries is based in large part on the memories of Pripyat locals, as told by Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich in her book Voices from Chernobyl.

Cast

Main

  • Jared Harris as Valery Legasov, the deputy director of the Kurchatov Institute brought in to aid cleanup efforts.
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Boris Shcherbina, the Council of Ministers' deputy chairman.
  • Emily Watson as Ulana Khomyuk, nuclear physicist from Minsk. Khomyuk is a fictional composite character. According to Watson, Khomyuk "represents the many scientists who worked fearlessly and put themselves in a lot of danger to help solve the situation".
  • Paul Ritter as Anatoly Dyatlov, assistant chief engineer at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Jessie Buckley as Lyudmilla Ignatenko, the wife of Vasily Ignatenko.
  • Adam Nagaitis as Vasily Ignatenko [ru], a Pripyat firefighter and first responder to the Chernobyl fire.
  • Con O'Neill as Viktor Bryukhanov, the manager of Chernobyl.
  • Adrian Rawlins as Nikolai Fomin [uk], the chief engineer at Chernobyl.
  • Sam Troughton as Aleksandr Akimov, the night shift supervisor at Chernobyl.
  • Robert Emms as Leonid Toptunov, the senior engineer at Chernobyl.
  • David Dencik as Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • Mark Lewis Jones as Vladimir Pikalov [ru], the commander of the Soviet chemical forces.
  • Alan Williams as Charkov, the KGB's first deputy chairman.
  • Alex Ferns as Andrei Glukhov, the mining crew chief.
  • Ralph Ineson as Nikolai Tarakanov [ru], the chief supervisor of the cleanup operation.
  • Barry Keoghan as Pavel Gremov, a civilian liquidator draftee.
  • Fares Fares as Bacho, a Georgian soldier who trains Pavel.
  • Michael McElhatton as Andrei Stepashin, the prosecutor for the trial of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin.

Recurring

  • Adam Lundgren as Vyacheslav Brazhnik, the senior turbine operator at Chernobyl.
  • Karl Davies as Viktor Proskuryakov, a senior reactor control engineer trainee at Chernobyl.
  • Donald Sumpter as Zharkov, a Pripyat executive committee member.
  • Billy Postlethwaite as Boris Stolyarchuk, the senior unit #4 control engineer at Chernobyl.
  • Joshua Leese as Igor Kirschenbaum, a senior turbine control engineer at Chernobyl.
  • Nadia Clifford as Svetlana Zinchenko, a doctor treating Vasily Ignatenko and others with radiation sickness.
  • Jamie Sives as Anatoly Sitnikov, the deputy chief operational engineer at Chernobyl sent to inspect the exploded core.
  • Baltasar Breki Samper as Alexei Ananenko [uk], one of the volunteers who drained water in Chernobyl's basement to prevent an explosion.
  • Philip Barantini as Valeri Bezpalov [uk], one of the volunteers who drained water in Chernobyl's basement to prevent an explosion.
  • Oscar Giese as Boris Baranov [uk], one of the volunteers who drained water in Chernobyl's basement to prevent an explosion.

Guest

  • Jay Simpson as Valeriy Perevozchenko, the foreman in the reactor section.
  • Michael Colgan as Mikhail Shchadov [ru], Soviet Minister of Coal Industry.
  • James Cosmo as a miner.
  • Hilton McRae as Milan Kadnikov, the judge presiding over the trial of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin.
  • Kieran O'Brien as Valery Khodemchuk, the night shift main circulating pump operator at Chernobyl.
  • Natasha Radski as Russian News Reader.

Production

Development and writing

Writer Craig Mazin began researching for the project in 2014, by reading books and government reports from inside and outside of the Soviet Union. Mazin also interviewed nuclear scientists to learn how a reactor works, and former Soviet citizens to gain a better idea of the culture in 1986. Furthermore, Mazin read several first-person accounts in order to bring additional authenticity to the story. He explained, "When you're reading the personal stories of people who were there — people who lived near the plant, people who worked at the plant, people who were sent to Chernobyl as part of the effort to clean it up — in those individual accounts, that's really where the story came alive".

In preparation for the miniseries, Mazin visited the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Mazin also did not cast any American actors, as that could potentially pull the audience out of the story.

On July 26, 2017, it was announced that HBO and Sky will produce a series named Chernobyl. It was HBO's first co-production with Sky UK. The five-episode miniseries was written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck. Mazin was the executive producer together with Carolyn Strauss and Jane Featherstone. Chris Fry and Renck acted as co-executive producers. On March 11, 2019, it was announced that the miniseries would premiere on May 6, 2019. On June 4, 2019, Craig Mazin made the original scripts of all episodes available for downloading in PDF format (see External links below).

Casting

Фабионишкес - panoramio
Soviet-era district of Fabijoniškės (Vilnius, Lithuania) was used to portray Pripyat

Simultaneously with the initial series announcement, it was confirmed that Jared Harris would star in the series. On March 19, 2018, it was announced that Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson had joined the main cast. In May 2018, it was announced that Paul Ritter, Jessie Buckley, Adrian Rawlins, and Con O'Neill also joined the cast.

Filming

Principal photography began in April 2018 in Lithuania. Initial filming started on May 13, 2018. The majority of the filmings took place in Fabijoniškės, a residential district in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Fabijoniskes has maintained an authentic Soviet atmosphere. Accordingly, it was used to portray the Ukrainian city of Pripyat. An area of densely built panel housing apartments served as a location for the evacuation scenes. Director Johan Renck heavily criticised the amount of diverse and eye-catching modern windows in the houses, but was not concerned about removing them in post-production. At the end of March, production moved to Visaginas, Lithuania, to shoot the exterior and interior of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, a decommissioned nuclear power station, also known as "Chernobyl's sister" due to its visual resemblance and the nuclear reactor design used at both Chernobyl and Ignalina (RBMK nuclear power reactor). In early June 2018, production moved to Ukraine to shoot minor final scenes. The filming of Chernobyl took 16 weeks.

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