HBO is airing its five-part miniseries Chernobyl on May 6 at 9:00 p.m. Known as one of the worst human-made catastrophes in history, this drama will focus on key personalities who were the heroes of this disaster in Europe.
Chernobyl will headline Jared Harris (The Crown), Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting) and Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie). The series was written by Craig Mazin (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and directed by Johan Renck (Breaking Bad).
The press release is below.
On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union suffered a massive explosion that released radioactive material across Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe.
Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist. As part of the response team, he is one of the first to grasp the scope of the unparalleled disaster that has occurred.
Stellan Skarsgård plays Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident.
Emily Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what led to the Chernobyl disaster.
The miniseries also stars: Paul Ritter (“Lovesick”) as Chernobyl deputy chief engineer Anatoly Dyatlov; Jessie Buckley (“Beast”) as Lyudmilla Ignatenko, a Pripyat resident married to a firefighter on the first response team; Adrian Rawlins (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) as Chernobyl chief engineer Nikolai Fomin; and Con O’Neill (“Harlots”) as plant director Viktor Bryukhanov.
The cast also includes: Sam Troughton (“The Ritual”), Adam Nagaitis (“The Terror”), Barry Keoghan (“Dunkirk”), Ralph Ineson (“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”), Mark Lewis Jones (“Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi”), Fares Fares (HBO’s “Westworld”) and David Dencik (“McMafia”).
Writer, creator and executive producer Craig Mazin began researching the Chernobyl disaster in 2014, using a wide variety of materials, including several books and government reports from inside and outside of the Soviet Union. He spoke to nuclear scientists to learn how a reactor works, and interviewed former Soviet citizens to gain a better sense of the culture in 1986.
Mazin also read a great number of first-person accounts, which helped bring an additional layer of authenticity and humanity to the story. He explains, “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.”
Principal photography for Chernobyl took place in Lithuania and Ukraine, with a creative team including: director of photography Jakob Ihre (“Thelma”); production designer Luke Hull (“Howards End”); editors, Jinx Godfrey (“The Theory of Everything”) and Simon Smith (“Endeavor”); costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux (“Brooklyn”); casting directors Nina Gold and Robert Sterne (both two-time Emmy(R) winners for HBO’s “Game of Thrones”); and composer Hildur Gunadttir (“Trapped”).
Episode 1: “1:23:45″
Debut date: MONDAY, MAY 6 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
April 26, 1986, Ukrainian SSR. Plant workers and firefighters put their lives on the line to control a catastrophic 1986 explosion at a Soviet nuclear power plant.
Episode 2: “Please Remain Calm”
Debut date: MONDAY, MAY 13 (9:00-10:05 p.m.)
With untold millions at risk after the Chernobyl explosion, nuclear physicist Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) makes a desperate attempt to reach Valery Legasov (Jared Harris), a leading Soviet nuclear physicist, and warn him about the threat of second explosion that could devastate the continent.
Episode 3: “Open Wide, O Earth”
Debut date: MONDAY, MAY 20 (9:00-10:05 p.m.)
Lyudmilla Ignatenko (Jessie Buckley), a Pripyat resident, ignores warning about her firefighter husband’s (Adam Nagaitis) contamination; Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) lays out a decontamination plan, complete with human risks.
Episode 4: “The Happiness of All Mankind”
Debut date: MONDAY, MAY 27 (9:00-10:05 p.m.)
Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) and Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) consider using lunar rovers to remove radioactive debris, while Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) faces government hurdles in determining the truth about the cause of the explosion.
Episode 5: “Vichnaya Pamyat” (finale)
Debut date: MONDAY, JUNE 3 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Valery Legasov (Jared Harris), Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) and Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson) risk their lives and reputations to expose the truth about Chernobyl.