Chernobyl writer recalls origin of the series and pitching it to HBO

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Chernobyl, the five-part drama about the horrific real-world event, is currently garnering a lot of glowing reviews at the moment. And if you’re wondering how the show came to be, read on…

The show was created and written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck, with Mazin pitching the project to HBO back in 2015.

“I pitched it to one network,” Mazin recalls in an insightful interview with Collider. “I only went to one place. The first person I spoke about it with was Carolyn Strauss, who is one of the executive producers, along with myself and Jane Featherstone. Then, Carolyn and I went over to HBO, which seemed like the right place to me. If anybody was going to be willing to spend a lot of money on a big program that wasn’t going to be eight seasons of blockbuster entertainment, it was going to be them. I simply told the stories. I told them how I was going to lay it out, through whose eyes we were going to experience this, what it was really about for me, and what I wanted to impart to the audience. When I was done, they said, “Thank you,” and I didn’t know what that meant. Then, the next day, I got a call and they said, “All right, let’s do it.” Every step of the way, it’s been an absolute joy. I’ve never had such a beautiful, smooth, and nourishing creative experience.”

And, as for what inspired him to write about Chernobyl, Mazin said this:

“I was just reading casually about it, about five years ago, and it occurred to me that, while I knew Chernobyl exploded, as I think most people do, I didn’t know why, and I thought there was this inexplicable gap in my knowledge. We know why the Titanic sank. How is it possible that we don’t why Chernobyl exploded? So, I began reading about it, just out of this very dry, intellectual curiosity, and what I discovered was that, while the story of the explosion is fascinating, and we make it really clear exactly why and how it happened, what really grabbed me and held me were the incredible stories of the human beings who lived through it, and who suffered and sacrificed to save the people that they loved, to save their countrymen and to save a continent, and continued to do so, against odds that were startling and kept getting worse. I was so moved by it. It was like I had discovered a war that people just hadn’t really depicted, and I became obsessed.”

Mazin’s telling of this story has certainly garnered a lot of attention, proving to be a critical and commercial success for HBO. Here in the UK, if you were wondering, you can watch Chernobyl on Now TV.