Why Most Of The Chernobyl Cast Don’t Use Russian Or Ukrainian Accents

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 29 May 2019 16:22
scenes from Chernobylscenes from ChernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic

After Game of Thrones, you may think HBO and Sky Atlantic wouldn’t try to follow it with anything too dramatic or heavy-going.


However, they did. And it’s obviously paid off, as their new historical drama Chernobyl is currently the highest-rated TV show of all time on IMDb, and has been widely praised by fans and critics alike.

You can watch the trailer here:

The five-part series tells the real-life story of the tragic 1986 nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl, which killed countless people and turned the area into a ghost town.


While they showrunners wanted to do justice to the true story, they also made the conscious decision for the actors to not attempt Russian or Ukrainian accents, as they thought it would detract from the acting itself.

ChernobylChernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic

As writer/producer Craig Mazin said on the show’s official podcast:

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.

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.’

jared hess and Stellan Skarsgård in Chernobyljared hess and Stellan Skarsgård in ChernobylHBO/Sky Atlantic

He added:

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.

However, audience members have naturally picked up on the English accents, and Twitter is awash with people bemoaning the artistic license:


Not entirely everyone online appears to be confused by this:

The producers made the right call. Hammy Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins faux-accents would not do this production nor the memory of the tragedy justice.

Chernobyl is available to watch now HBO/Sky Atlantic.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Film and TV, Accents, Chernobyl, HBO, Russian, Sky Atlantic, ukrainian


The Chernobyl Podcast
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