Weird History

'Chernobyl' Actors Vs. The Real People They Portrayed

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Vote up the actors who most resemble their real-life counterparts.

The Chernobyl nuclear explosion was a catastrophe created entirely by human beings. And it primarily destroyed and affected humans, too, along with animals, the environment, and the psyches of people around the world who watched the nuclear horror and its aftermath unfold.

The five-part HBO mini-series Chernobyl revisits the events leading up to, during, and after the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. It’s a dramatization, but based on very real events and people who endured - and still suffer from - the effects of the material and emotional fallout from the disaster. The cast features actors playing numerous real-life people including scientists, government officials, first responders, Chernobyl workers, and residents of nearby towns. Some of the key players in the film are shown here along with the actors who portrayed them. In many cases, photos are not available of the real-life people because so much was hidden from the public after the incident happened.

In the miniseries, Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a Soviet nuclear physicist and deputy director of the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy; he was part of the Chernobyl response team. Stellan Skarsgård plays Boris Shcherbina, a Soviet politician who led a government commission that managed the crisis. Others include Paul Ritter as Anatoly Dyatlov, Chernobyl's deputy chief engineer; Adam Nagaitis as Vasily Ignatenko, a firefighter and one of the first responders; Jessie Buckley as Lyudmilla, Ignatenko’s wife; Adrian Rawlins as Nikolai Fomin, Chernobyl's chief engineer; Sam Troughton as Aleksandr Akimov, the plant's night shift supervisor; and David Dencik as Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. One notable character, Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet physicist played by Emily Watson, is not a real person.

If you're looking for more dramatic historical series, check out other great shows like Chernobyl.