HBO Greenlights 'Chernobyl' Miniseries Starring Jared Harris

Jared Harris - Press Guild Television and Radio Awards -Getty-H 2017
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HBO is taking a closer look at Chernobyl.

The pay cabler has greenlighted a five-part miniseries about the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine with Mad Men star Jared Harris attached to star, it was announced Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

Titled Chernobyl, the project dramatizes the true story of one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history and tells of the brave men and women who sacrificed to save Europe from unimaginable disaster. The limited series is described as a "a tale of lies and cowardice, of courage and conviction, of human failure and human nobility," that will look closely at how and why the nuclear disaster happened as well as the heroes who fought and fell during that time.

Harris will star as Valery Legasov, the Soviet scientist chosen by the Kremlin to investigate the accident.

Craig Mazin (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) will write and Johan Renck (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead), will direct. Mazin will exec produce with Carolyn Strauss (Game of Thrones) and Jane Featherstone (Broadchurch), with Renck and Chris Fry (Humans) attached to co-exec produce. 

“From the moment Craig Mazin pitched us the story, we were convinced that this all-too-true tale of horror and redemption needed to be told,” said HBO miniseries and Cinemax programming president Kary Antholis. “It will engage — and enrage — our viewers, as well as audiences around the world.”

Chernobyl will mark the first production of the drama partnership between HBO and Sky. Sister Pictures and The Mighty Mint will also produce the mini. Filming will begin in Lithuania in spring 2018.           

“In Chernobyl, Craig Mazin has achieved something unique — his script is second to none, effortlessly combining the visceral, the tragic and the heroic perspectives behind this devastating event,” added Sky's managing director of content Gary Davey. The scale of the production makes it a perfect first project for our co-production partnership with HBO, encapsulating our ambition to develop high-end drama with international viewpoints and casting.  We look forward to working closely with HBO to bring this important story to Sky Atlantic.”

The project comes several months after HBO struck a $250 million production partnership with Sky in April. The two had previously worked together on the Jude Law-starrer The Young Pope, which was formally renewed for season two in May. The network is also working with Italian broadcaster RAI on a drama series adaptation of Elena Ferrante's best-selling book My Brilliant Friend.

HBO, like the rest of TV, has increasingly looked to miniseries and limited series in the peak TV era. The network recently amassed 16 Emmy nominations for limited series Big Little Lies and 13 for The Night Of.

Since his Emmy-nominated turn on Mad Men, Harris has appeared in the acclaimed period drama The Crown and is next set to headline the first season of AMC's anthology series The Terror, based on the best-selling book of the same name.