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Entertainment & Arts

Craig Mazin on ‘Chernobyl’ and the ‘cost of lies’

The Times’ Mark Olsen talks with Craig Mazin, the creator and writer of HBO’s Emmy-nominated miniseries ‘Chernobyl.’

Jared Harris in “Chernobyl”
Jared Harris as Soviet scientist Valery Legasov in the HBO mini series "Chernobyl."
(Liam Daniel/HBO)

From the very first line of dialogue, Craig Mazin makes clear that “Chernobyl” is far more than a dramatization of the 1986 nuclear meltdown in the USSR.

Mazin, the creator and writer of the HBO miniseries, tells a story of the “cost of lies” and the real-life dangers that result from a culture disconnected from the truth. The Soviet system was built on propaganda and misinformation, and the heroes of the nuclear disaster are the people who sought the truth and stuck to the facts — even at great personal cost.

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As he developed the story in 2016, Mazin saw parallels in American politics, with whole segments of the public growing untethered from the truth.

The five-part series resonated with viewers and has drawn the largest audience for an HBO miniseries since “Band of Brothers.” It’s been nominated for 19 Emmys.

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Mark Olsen (@IndieFocus) talks with Mazin (@clmazin) about how the medium of episodic television gave him the space to tell a mystery — as well as a story of a culture, a system of government and the nature of love.

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