Chernobyl Star Reflects On Acclaimed Miniseries’ Surprise Success
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Chernobyl Star Reflects On Acclaimed Miniseries’ Surprise Success


  • Even HBO was surprised by
    ‘s success, says star Stellan Skarsgård.
  • Skarsgård reflects on the societal themes of cowardice portrayed in the series and hopes viewers draw parallels to their own society.
  • The current Warner Bros. Discovery regime may be less likely to take risks on shows like
    due to profit-focused priorities.



Chernobyl star Stellan Skarsgård reflects on the HBO miniseries’ surprise success, while lamenting the current state of the network. Released in 2019, Chernobyl told the harrowing true story of the worst nuclear disaster in world history, going behind-the-scenes to depict both the heroism and cowardice of those involved in causing, and containing, the catastrophe. The intense five-episode miniseries received almost universal acclaim, going on to win numerous awards, including the Emmy for Best Limited Series.

Now five years after the show’s surprise success, Chernobyl star Skarsgård reflects on his experience, telling Vanity Fair that not even HBO believed the miniseries would hit the way it did, while implying that TV and streaming networks have become more timid in recent years when it comes to greenlighting challenging material. Check out his remarks below:

The thing is that not even HBO thought that it would be a success, but they thought it was important to do it. That was HBO back then. In those days, it was…It’s different now. It had no plus after. And they didn’t expect it to become a success, but they thought it was important to make it, and they wanted to make it as a quality production.

Fortunately, it had an enormous impact and a lot of people saw it. And I hope they understand that it is about the sort of cowardice of everybody in society. It goes for everybody. It’s not only in the Soviet society, it goes to our society too. The cowardice of sort of accepting the rule and the power of the time.

Would HBO Make Chernobyl in 2024?

Chernobyl (2019) 4

Five years doesn’t seem like a very long time, but HBO of 2024 is a much different entity than the one that existed in 2019. The big change came in 2021, when WarnerMedia merged with Discovery to become Warner Bros. Discovery, placing both HBO and streaming service Max under that umbrella. The WBD regime has since caused loads of controversy with its moves, including the decision to shelve finished films like Batgirl and Coyote vs. Acme, seemingly for tax reasons.

is currently available to watch on Max.

Skarsgård’s implication that the current WBD-owned HBO would not gamble on a show like Chernobyl perhaps reflects a general backlash against the company in the wake of those high-profile cancelations. Creatives have indeed been very critical of WBD due to their moves, which seem to prioritize profit over the delivery of quality content. HBO’s biggest show of 2024 so far, True Detective: Night Country, seems like the kind of relatively safe IP-mining proposition that a fundamentally risk-averse company might choose to get behind. A noble-minded gamble of a show like Chernobyl seems less likely to happen in such a profit-minded climate.

Source: Vanity Fair

Chernobyl Movie Poster


Chernobyl is the Emmy award-winning mini-series by Craig Mazin created for HBO that retells the dramatic story of the Ukrainian nuclear disaster in the 80s. The show follows the true story closely with some dramatizations but still follows the fallout of the atomic event and tells stories from those closely involved to the efforts of first responders and other teams who helped with the cleanup efforts.

Stellan Skarsgård , Jared Harris

Release Date
June 3, 2019



Craig Mazin

Johan Renck

Craig Mazin

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