What happens if you round up the nation’s most brilliant scientific minds, seclude them in a makeshift city in the middle of the desert, and drown their lives in secrecy? These are the questions addressed in Manhattan, the new historical drama from creator Sam Shaw (Masters of Sex) and director Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing). Manhattan offers a semi-fictionalized version of the infamous Manhattan Project – the clandestine research and development project that resulted in the creation of the atomic bomb. While the events of the show are based on history, Manhattan largely steers clear of iconic figures like J. Robert Oppenheimer and Leslie Groves, and focuses instead on the interpersonal drama between fictitious characters as they contend with the costs of secrecy and isolation. Manhattan stars John Benjamin Hickey, Olivia Williams, Daniel Stern, Rachel Brosnahan, Ashley Zuckerman, Harry Lloyd, Michael Chernus, Christopher Denham, Katja Herbers, Alexia Fast, and Eddie Shin.
I recently visited the set in Santa Fe, New Mexico where the labs, homes, and offices of Los Alamos have been recreated from the ground up. While I was there I had the chance to sit down with actors Daniel Stern and Christopher Denham for an exclusive video interview. They talked about Sam Shaw’s exceptional script, their research process, the moral ramifications of their characters’ actions, working with the immersive sets and costumes, and how the show’s themes reflect on contemporary issues. Check out what they had to say after the jump.