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‘Breaking the Waves’ Actors Reunite for ‘Chernobyl’

Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson are set to star in an HBO miniseries dramatizing the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Breaking The Waves
By  · Published on March 19th, 2018

Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson are set to star in an HBO miniseries dramatizing the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Set to begin filming this Spring, Chernobyl will be a a five-part miniseries produced in partnership between HBO and SKY. The story will focus on the days leading up to and right after the nuclear disaster that occurred at the titular power plant in the (then) Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on April 26, 1988. Jared Harris is set to star, and Deadline has just revealed he will be joined by Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson.

This will be a reunion for the two additions. The actors were last seen together devastating our emotions in Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves. We’re not sure how much screen time they’ll share here, but it sounds like their characters will collide at some point. I imagine another sunny ending for the two of them.

Skarsgård will portray Boris Shcherbina, the low ranking Kremlin official tasked with investigating the incident at Chernobyl mere hours after the event. He will have to navigate the horrific realities of the situation with the political concerns of the USSR. No easy feat.

For Skarsgård, jumping into his character’s treacherous predicament was a no brainer:

“Nobody would see it as a privilege to spend five months in a dilapidated nuclear plant, unless it was to play in a script like this by Craig Mazin, work with a director like Johan Renck, collaborate with a producer like Jane Featherstone, jam with an actor like Jared Harris and finally be at the feet  of Emily Watson whom I have been missing for some 20 years.”

Watson is equally enthused to be back with Skarsgård:

This is a significant piece of work and I’m honored to be part of it. I can’t wait to get started with this amazing group of people and am especially excited to be working with Stellan again.”

The Chernobyl disaster has continually plagued pop culture. We’ve recently seen it as the climactic battleground of A Good Day to Die Hard, the hiding place for Cybertronian technology in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and the spooky setting for The Chernobyl Diaries. We can’t seem to shake our fascination with this catastrophic meltdown, and the potential for similar disasters in our own backyards.

HBO has assembled some serious talent in front of the cameras, but I have a question about the men working behind the scenes. Chernobyl is written by Craig Mazin, who is known for his raucous comedies. He was the hand behind Rocketman, The Hangover Part II, and The Hangover Part III. His last dramatic work was The Huntsman: Winter’s War. Nothing in his filmography stirs confidence in future projects.

Chernobyl‘s director, Johan Rench, is a music video veteran who has been jumping from one TV project to the next. He’s tackled The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Vikings, and Bloodline. So, he’s proven that he can jump into a team and knock out a killer episode. Having already taken on The Last Panthers with Samantha Morton and John Hurt, Chernobyl will be his second British miniseries.

Ultimately, the real draw to Chernobyl is the trilogy of Harris, Skarsgård, and Watson. Three tremendous talents who rarely get the opportunity to show off their skill on the big screen. They’re mostly known for adding some spice to blockbuster entertainment. Chernobyl will hopefully offer them several hours worth of character to chew through.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)