What is the actual justification for not using Russian/Eastern European actors for Chernobyl?

edited May 28 in Other TV
I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 
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Comments

  • DeeDee Adelaide
    A lot of people - particularly Americans - won’t watch anything with subtitles/not in English. It doesn’t bother me, but from a business perspective I see why they made the choice they did to get the widest audience they could.

    I like the choice to go with British actors personally, because there are many actors in it that I’m a fan of and I’m always happy to watch them in anything. I don’t think it has had a detrimental impact on the gravity of the subject matter at all. 
    rkcrawfFlukes
  • edited May 28
    Dee said:
    A lot of people - particularly Americans - won’t watch anything with subtitles/not in English. It doesn’t bother me, but from a business perspective I see why they made the choice they did to get the widest audience they could.

    I like the choice to go with British actors personally, because there are many actors in it that I’m a fan of and I’m always happy to watch them in anything. I don’t think it has had a detrimental impact on the gravity of the subject matter at all. 
    It didn’t have to be in subtitles, though. They could have cast Russian actors that speak English. 

    I just don’t understand this choice at all. It’s like if Christopher Nolan had cast a bunch of Americans for Dunkirk. 

    This is just a wildly stupid decision by everyone involved. I’d be interested in seeing what actual Russian people thought of this.


  • Yea it takes you out of it a little, but the shows writing and acting more than makes up for it
    darwinfeeshy
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @RyanReeseman It’s a pretty large cast - could they have feasibly found enough Russian actors who would fit the part and be able to speak English well enough? 
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    Anyway, Con O’Neill can get me to watch anything. I’d watch him sitting on a toilet reading a newspaper. 
  • I can’t wait to see the Dee said:
    @RyanReeseman It’s a pretty large cast - could they have feasibly found enough Russian actors who would fit the part and be able to speak English well enough? 
    Yes.
  • I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

    Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 

    The show runner decided he didn't want it turn into English speakers doing Boris and Natasha. I think it was the right choice. 

    Besides in most film and TV the Ancient Roman's have spoken with an English accent so why not the Russians too?
    DoubleA_RonJaimieTkojiattwoodChinaskirkcrawf
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    edited May 28
    I look forward to the next sinking ship Jared Harris goes down with.

    O Captain, My Captain.  

    Besides - British accent often signals foreign in American productions.... 
    Giovannirkcrawf
  • CapeGabe said:
    I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

    Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 

    The show runner decided he didn't want it turn into English speakers doing Boris and Natasha. I think it was the right choice. 

    Besides in most film and TV the Ancient Roman's have spoken with an English accent so why not the Russians too?
    But why didn’t he just cast Russian actors doing English accents?
    Flukes
  • All the ChickensAll the Chickens Birmingham, AL
    edited May 28
    I would imagine that these American and UK production companies dont have a ton of Russian/Ukrainian TV or movie connections for a wide pool of acting talent. Especially a pool of talent that has any recognition to HBOs main viewership based, which is primarily in the US and western Europe.

    I do get that the reverse of this scenario would be bizarre-- to have a movie made by a Russian production company about Pearl Harbor or some oil spill in the gulf, and the actors are all speaking Russian in their natural accents. Hell, it would be bizarre for a Russian production company to simply make any movie about any American disaster or major event in the US, regardless of the accent or language they use. But I also would understand that the movie/series would be made more for their audience instead of me, and that's ok.
  • All the ChickensAll the Chickens Birmingham, AL
    CapeGabe said:
    I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

    Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 

    The show runner decided he didn't want it turn into English speakers doing Boris and Natasha. I think it was the right choice. 

    Besides in most film and TV the Ancient Roman's have spoken with an English accent so why not the Russians too?
    But why didn’t he just cast Russian actors doing English accents?
    What difference would that choice make then? You're either ultimately desiring authenticity or you aren't.
    Deekojiattwood
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    CapeGabe said:
    I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

    Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 

    The show runner decided he didn't want it turn into English speakers doing Boris and Natasha. I think it was the right choice. 

    Besides in most film and TV the Ancient Roman's have spoken with an English accent so why not the Russians too?
    But why didn’t he just cast Russian actors doing English accents?
    But that’s not authentic either. The actual Russians working in Chernobyl were not standing around speaking English. 
  • OldGriswoldOldGriswold Brooklyn
    Dude, Christian Bale was Moses. Americans do whatever the fuck they want to do.
    JaimieTFreddyblacksunrise7JoshuaHeterSanguinePenguinChinaskiFlukes
  • It’s a Brtish/American production.. How is it a stupid decision by everyone involved on any level? I’d 
  • edited May 28
    I wouldn't be able to watch it if it was Russian actors speaking English or English actors doing a Russian accent. Unless the accent is relevant to the story (eg. someone is a foreigner in a certain country) it's just forced and stupid.

    And even if they did straight Russian with subtitles, I don't know that they'd be able to make it 100% accurate. Sure, the Soviet Union's official language was Russian. But Chernobyl is in the Ukraine. Ulana is from Minsk, Belarus. Most politicians were from all over the place, I'd guess. They would all know Russian because they had to (I'm Hungarian, and even though Hungary wasn't even part of the USSR, learning Russian in school was obligatory for everyone for decades). But they'd all have different accents and they couldn't do it justice - just like when people were pissed about the Spanish accents in Narcos. I think 100% accuracy just simply isn't possible in any case, so they might as well go for something neutral and uniform.
    DeeJayland86
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    I'm resisting just replying, "You're insanely stupid," re: you saying the director's rationale was insanely stupid. I'm loving this show. I respect your opinions, and this is obviously just not a show for you.

    "Realism" is still arbitrated by artists.
    Jayland86kojiattwoodJoshuaHeterNaugustineFlukes
  • It bothers me about as much as seeing British actors play Americans, which is to say it doesn't bother me at all, especially if they are good actors. I literally forgot about it about a minute into the show, just like they said on the podcast.
    I have what I guess you could call a Russian "pen pal" - this Russian guy liked some fan art I did of some TV shows and he DM'ed me on Instagram. I don't normally answer DMs from strange men, but for some reason I did, and we chat regularly there now, mostly about TV shows. He messaged me about Chernobyl before I had even had a chance to watch the first episode and was amazed at how well it was done. He kept saying he couldn't believe the authenticity of an American/British production and how well they captured it. He mentioned how much he likes several of the actors, particularly The Terror alumni. I always forget to ask, but I think he torrents a lot of stuff he watches, and I would guess most of it has Russian subtitles added because his English isn't that great. Our running joke when he apologizes for his English is that I tell him it's way better than my Russian, which I don't know at all, and I applaud him for trying.
    RyanReesemanawookieekojiattwood
  • All the Chickens said:

    What difference would that choice make then? You're either ultimately desiring authenticity or you aren't.
    Dee said: 

    But that’s not authentic either. The actual Russians working in Chernobyl were not standing around speaking English. 
    Oh I agree. This should have been Russian actors speaking Russian. I was just offering an alternative that would have been *slightly* better, assuming that this show was only made for English speakers. At least the actors would have been authentic. 


  • Dude, Christian Bale was Moses. Americans do whatever the fuck they want to do.
    I mean, that was stupid too?
  • This doesn't bother me at all.

    I'd assume the reason for not casting Russian actors and having them speak English was the desire to have some well-known actors in the show.
  • I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

    Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 
    Here.  Watch this.



    JoshuaHeter
  • CapeGabe said:
    I have not been able to watch this show past the first episode because of this annoying point of contention. Why are all these actors British and why do they all speak in British accents? (Yes, I know that there was an official podcast about this subject, and my opinion is that it was an insanely stupid answer there also).

    Am I the only person that is irritated by this? We have one of the greatest tragedies in Russian history told cynically by non-Russians and that’s just ok? 

    The show runner decided he didn't want it turn into English speakers doing Boris and Natasha. I think it was the right choice. 

    Besides in most film and TV the Ancient Roman's have spoken with an English accent so why not the Russians too?
    But why didn’t he just cast Russian actors doing English accents?

     It's a business, not art. I personally wouldn't have minded Russian actors being subtitled but I am an outlier. I turned off the dubbing and put back the original German with subtitles when watching Dark last year (Season 2 coming next month)

    This was an American and British project so they are going to make it for the lowest common denominator. 

    They made the best choice possible and the result is immensely gripping and powerful. 
    Giovanni
  • JoshuaHeterJoshuaHeter Omaha, NE
    edited May 28
    I mean, why stop there? Your suggestion is just so shortsighted. What does some privileged actor from St. Petersburg or Moscow have to do with this terrible event?

    The only way I’ll watch anything about the Chernobyl disaster is if it is done entirely by actors who are descendants of the people who were actually there. Or, actors who were actually there! We can de-age them.
    CapeGabeSanguinePenguinBloodyTaco
  • chriskchrisk Indianapolis
    edited May 28
    I sympathize with the complaint a little but there’s a long history of American produced movies that show non-English speaking characters portrayed by Brits or Americans speaking English. 

    Off the the top of my head, HBO even has a really good movie with Stephen Rea playing a Soviet investigator who’s trying to track down a serial killer.

    They have another good movie with Stephen Rea playing the German man accused of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. 

    I remember a movie from the 80s about a couple of East German families crossing the Berlin Wall, played by British actors. 

    Enemy at the Gates did something interesting where they had all the Soviet WWII soldiers played by Brits and Ed Harris playing a Nazi with his American Accent. 

    Then there’s Hunt for Red October which is a bit more direct about the fact that it’s “translating” the Russian characters. 

    Tons more than that though. 

  • LordByLordBy Utah
    They’ve done a great job with the show. If doing it in English makes it easier to cast (and therefore to get done at all) and gives it a broader audience, then I’d call it a win.

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
    JaimieTSanguinePenguin
  • I'm enjoying Chernobyl. A LOT. Scary as fuck. Super happy that one episode didn't show the fellow who was missing half his face.

    But the casting? I'm good. Thankfully it's not John Wayne as Ghenghis Khan (The Conqueror, 1956) bad.

    With the exception of Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (I first saw the dubbed versions and damned if Vic Mignona, Travis Willingham and others didn't stick), I opt for the original audio track.

    Also eagerly looking forward to season 2 of Dark. In German.
  • Because eastern European Jared Harris don't grow on trees . Am I a horrible person for saying I don't really care as long as the depiction on screen is great ? And am sure the majority of the audience aren't ok with subtitles . 
    rkcrawf
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited May 29
    For what it’s worth this guy on Twitter is recapping each episode and has gotten the attention of the show runner. He was born and raised in the Soviet Union and brings that perspective to his recaps and he’s amazed at the authenticity that an American/British production was able to capture. His first three recaps are pinned and Episode 4 is further down the timeline.
    https://twitter.com/slavamalamud/status/1132029943297265664?s=21

    MarcikojiattwoodFlukes
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    i just watched all the eps and caught up over the weekend. the British cast doesn't bother me, esp since they're all fantastic. i didn't know much of the events and it's almost hard to wrap my mind around the thought that this happened at this degree. super scary stuff. really looking forward to the finale.
  • When I watch with subtitles, I’m missing most of the acting because I’m reading. This a docu-drama, not a documentary. I want to appreciate the art, and having it with Brits is good enough for this dumb yankee. 
    DoubleA_Ron
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