Chernobyl explained: Is Emily Watson’s character Ulana Khomyuk a real person?

Chernobyl is one of HBO’s biggest hits, having been crowned as the highest rated show on IMDb. Examining the fallout of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the show has been praised for its historical accuracy. But is Emily Watson’s character Ulana Khomyuk a real person?

Is Emily Watson’s character Ulana Khomyuk a real person? 

HBO series Chernobyl details the fallout out of the nuclear disaster in 1986.

In episode two of the show, viewers are introduced to nuclear physicist Ulana Khomyuk (played by Emily Watson) as a new character.

We first meet her in the aftermath of the explosion as she tries desperately to reach Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) and warn him about the threat of a second explosion. 

However, while Legasov was a real person, Khomyuk didn’t really exist.

She was instead inspired by a composite of scientists involved in the disaster.

WHY DO THEY SPEAK ENGLISH IN CHERNOBYL ON HBO?

In podcast to accompany the show, creator Craig Mazin speaks about the decision to create her character.

He said: “We had this challenge right off the bat. There were hundreds of scientists that ultimately worked on the problem of Chernobyl.”

These scientists worked alongside Legasov in order to try and clean up the mess of the explosion.

According to Mazin’s research, many of these were also in opposition to Legasov during the process.

To get over this issue, he decided to create a composite character in the form of Khomyuk.

“We invested a lot of this stuff into Emily’s character – a sense of a check on Lagasov’s character.”

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER SERIES OF CHERNOBYL ON HBO?

He also spoke about the decision to make the character female in terms of historical accuracy.

He explained: “The Soviet Union was in many ways very regressive in terms of its gender politics. 

“The power structure was almost entirely male and the show reflects that.” 

However, the USSR was reasonably progressive in the worlds of science and medicine, which Mazin also wanted to portray.

“I thought it was an important thing to show where the Soviets were actually progressive in this regard.”

WHO IS IN THE CAST OF CHERNOBYL ON HBO?

Khomyuk is played by Emily Watson who has appeared in a number of hit films, including Red Dragon, Breaking the Waves and Gosford Park.

Watson told Refinery29 of her character in the show: “She’s a truth ninja. She goes after it”

Viewers can see this in the show where she turns up in Pripyat before the disaster has been officially announced. 

She also revealed her backstory during the interview saying that she would have been a child during World War II in Belarus.

She added: ”As a child, she lived through extraordinary brutality and probably was witness to appalling acts. She developed a ‘don’t trust anybody’ mentality.”

This feeds into the tough nature of Khomyuk that viewers see through the HBO show.

While her character is not a real person, the show has been hailed for its historical accuracies, including its treatment of radiation sickness.

Chernobyl is available to watch on NOW TV now

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