Here's why the majority of the cast in Chernobyl don't use a Russian/Ukrainian accent 2 months ago

Here's why the majority of the cast in Chernobyl don't use a Russian/Ukrainian accent

A brilliant decision that really enhances the show

One wonderful HBO show ends, another takes its place.

At present, Chernobyl is the highest rated TV show of all time on IMDB and it's easy to see why the five-part series has become such a critical and commercial darling.

To begin with, it's incredibly respectful and detailed regarding the catastrophic 1986 explosion at a Soviet nuclear power plant.

Nothing is sensationalised, deliberately OTT, or cliched when it comes to this horrific tragedy.

By adopting a less is more approach, Craig Mazin has created a superb drama where acts of heroism, bravery, and humanity really shine against the backdrop of such horror.

It's impossible not to be moved as the plant workers, miners, and firefighters put their lives on the line to control the catastrophic explosion.

Aside from this, the show also features some superb performances with Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Jessie Buckley and David Dencik all shining.


To be honest, if Harris and Skarsgård don't win Emmys, we'd be shocked.

Realism, authenticity, and a search for the truth are at the core of Chernobyl but the filmmakers also made a very astute decision before filming started, they didn't want the actors to use a Russian accent.

During an interview on the show's official podcast, writer/producer Craig Mazin was asked about this decision and his answer is very astute.

"The decision not to use Russian accents was a big one that we made early on. We had an initial thought that we didn't want to do the 'Boris and Natasha' cliched accent because the Russian accent can turn comic very easily. At first, we thought that maybe we would have people do these sort of vaguely Eastern European accents - not really strong but noticeable.

"What we found very quickly is that actors will act accents. They will not act, they will act accents and we were losing everything about these people that we loved. Honestly, I think after maybe one or two auditions we said 'Ok, new rule. We're not doing that anymore," said Mazin.

Of course, cinephiles will be able to count hundreds of examples when bad accents ruined a TV show or film, but Mazin said that the dialect in Chernobyl was influenced by another HBO film.

"I remembered this old HBO movie called Citizen X with Stephen Rea and Donald Sutherland - it's a true story about a serial killer in Soviet Ukraine. I recall there being accents from all over the place in the film. There were South African, English, American accents - some people were sort of trying, others weren't - and then Max Von Sydow appears and he speaks like his usual self, with his Swedish accent. And do you know what? It all works perfectly because they're not speaking Russian.

"I get the reasons why but this means that there can be no American accents because I think for an American audience, the one thing that will pull you out is an American accent because that sounds silly but beyond that, I think we just ask people to take the edge off (their natural accent)."

Mazin also cited Game of Thrones as an influence on his decision to use the natural accents of his cast.

"For example, in Game of Thrones, anyone from Manchester will be asked to push that a bit so they can clearly be defined as Northeners. We would say 'take the edge off of it' a bit here and there, we'd let someone be Irish or Scottish because they sounded great and there character was good. Also, we're hearing people as they would have heard themselves.

"There's no consciousness there. My hope is that the accent thing just fades away in seconds and you stop caring about it. Ultimately, a person's accent is completely irrelevant to what's going on because there are things happening that don't even need an accent to be communicated - panic, fear, excitement, worry, sadness. They're just emotions," he said.

With just one episode to go, we're certain that Chernobyl is going to be remembered as one of 2019's best shows.

If you haven't started to watch it yet, you can catch up with the episodes on Sky Atlantic.