Hollywood and dramaturgy oblige, showrunner Craig Mazin had to arrange reality to feed fiction. Which characters from the event series actually existed?
To start with the obvious is risky but we dare: reality and fiction meet different rules. When it comes to adapting real events, you have to know how to twist the truth to bring it into the canons of dramaturgy.
An elementary precept but which it is sometimes necessary to recall: ” when you take an event that has been running for two years and compress it into five hours, you’re going to have to make changes Reveals Craig Mazin, Chernobyl’s showrunner for Variety. You don’t tell a story like you shoot a documentary, and bringing reality into fiction therefore requires contortions, arrangements, re-creations in order to guarantee the integrity of the program.
” If you have to make changes, it should be for narrative reasons, never to overdramatize », He concludes. Understand that it is not because we rewrite, that we invent that the intentions are bad. A betrayal of history can be carried out for good reason.
Chernobyl, which ends its broadcast this evening on M6 with three new episodes, is based as much as possible on the facts, uses characters who have existed. Among the three main ones, we take stock of who is part of history and who is fiction.
Valery Legasov: real
The character played by Jared Harris (Fringe, The Crown, The Terror, …), nuclear physicist, led the commission investigating the causes and management of the disaster. And as the first images of the series show, he killed himself by hanging two years after the incident, in 1988.
The circumstances of his death were not communicated until a few days later, the Soviet authorities dragging their feet. At the time, the Los Angeles Times reported that “sources in the scientific community in Moscow claimed that Legasov felt responsible for the incident which claimed the deaths of 31 people and released a radioactive cloud through the Europe ”. We understand better what kept the authorities from diluting the information.
Valery Legasov was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences and was appointed director of the Kurchatof Institute on Atomic Energy. He was then mandated by the Soviet government to be part of the first commission in charge of managing the disaster.
In an interview with BUILD, Jarred harris explains passages from an audience at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) served as the basis for the recreation of these scenes. For Craig mazin, the series is not only an opportunity to report the facts, to recount this human and ecological tragedy in detail, but also to put names back into the light and explain the sacrifices they may have made.
Boris Shcherbina: real
The character played by Stellan Skarsgård (Breaking the Waves, Nymph () maniac, …) was indeed the representative of the governmental authority in the management of the disaster. Boris Shcherbirna was appointed Deputy Prime Minister by the official occupier, Nikolai Tikhonov, in 1984. He was previously Minister of Oil and Gas Construction and headed the Trans-Siberian Pipeline Project: Urengoy – Pomary – Uzhhorod.
The Swedish actor has nevertheless been careful not to learn too much about the man he must play in order to better focus on the character’s dramatic trajectory. The secrecy surrounding the life of this man remains, even today, a little obscure; Stellan Skarsgård found it more interesting to exploit the character’s intimate loopholes.
” It’s interesting to play this man who represents a corrupt and failing system, who has spent his life defending it and who, once he looks behind him, has to admit he was wrong. So he comes to the conclusion that he must change his beliefs He confides to Collider.
Ulana Khomyuk: fictitious
There is no nuclear physicist named Ulana Khomyuk who investigated the Chernobyl disaster. The character played by Emily Watson (War Horse, Breaking The Waves, …) is a pure creation of Craig mazin. Nevertheless, to compose it, the showrunner was inspired by real characters from the Soviet scientific community of the time.
If the country of Gorbachev is not known for parity in the upper echelons of power, women were better represented in scientific and medical circles. To the point of placing the Soviet Union at the forefront on the issue of female representation in these professional courses.
Craig mazin adds for TV Talk: ” she represents all those other scientists who worked on this catastrophe and risked almost everything to fight against the system – not just the government but also that of science, which also operates under a patriarchal hierarchy and has been shown to be very self-sufficient. -protective by hiding her own mistakes “.
Chernobyl, tonight at 9:05 pm on M6 and in full on the SALTO streaming platform