Chernobyl EP Jane Featherstone talks about the HBO series


Jane Featherstone, the executive producer of the HBO series Chernobyl, discussed what attracted her to the project, the challenges of the production, and why it was important to keep it as close to reality as possible.

Featherstone, who previously produced Broadchurch and Humans, talked to Deadline about the new miniseries Chernobyl, which premiered Monday night on HBO.

Featherstone had only recently started her own company, Sister Pictures, when she got a call from Kary Antholis, then-HBO miniseries chief, about a pitch for Chernobyl by Craig Mazin (The Huntsman: Winter’s War).  Featherstone was immediately on board. Of the pitch, she said,

"I thought it was one of the most fascinating, compelling and brilliant outlines I had ever read… I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of pitches and treatments and outlines and I had never read one like this."

Chernobyl stars Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard, and Emily Watson in the true story of the infamous nuclear disaster that took place in Ukraine in 1986. The miniseries centers on how and why the accident happened and how the men and women involved saved Europe from destruction.

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It was the attention to the lesser-known details of the event that especially intrigued Featherstone. The HBO miniseries has made a point to explore the aftermath of the infamous event in the eight episodes.

"It was that clean-up that I found so fascinating as well as uncovering the lies that were told and the corruption behind the causes of the RBMK reactor being able to explode. As a result, the way that Craig wrote it with so much humanity and passion, the human story and sacrifices stopped Europe from being destroyed, was just a profound story."

Featherstone and Mazin made sure the series stayed as “close to reality” as possible throughout the show’s five hours. As a result, Mazin based most of the series on known facts. Featherstone said that Chernobyl had a responsibility to stick with those facts because thousands of people in Belarus and Ukraine are still living with the aftermath of the disaster.

In addition, Featherstone felt the story being told was so compelling it didn’t require any dramatization. She observed,

"It didn’t really need much embellishing, the true story is more extraordinary than any fiction I had imagined and so it was a case of being respectful to it and telling it as if you were covering all angles of the story, we never dramatized anything for effect."

The series required a huge production to bring it to life. It shot mostly in Lithuania with some filming in Ukraine. It even filmed some scenes at a sister site of Chernobyl, the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which took a year and a half of negotiations to secure.

She also raved about Johan Renck the project’s director.

"You… need a great leader on the floor and Johan has a great eye and he thinks differently to other directors, and he also sees the humanity and emotion in people."

Chernobyl is launching in HBO’s new Monday night originals slot. An expansion of HBO’s original programming that Featherstone is happy to be part of. The premiere has already earned rave critical reviews and the remaining eight episodes all have the potential to be equally interesting.

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In addition, to Chernobyl, Featherstone’s company also has a varied set of projects in the works for Netflix, Amazon, AMC, and BBC Two.

Chernobyl airs on Monday nights at 9 pm on HBO.

What did you think of the premiere episode? Will you be tuning in for the rest of the season? Be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comment section below!

Source: Deadline