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.
I recently visited the set in Santa Fe, New Mexico where the labs, homes, and barracks of Los Alamos have been recreated from the ground up. While I was there I had the chance to sit down with Harry Lloyd and Katja Herbers. They talked about what attracted them to the show, how much they knew about the history of the Manhattan Project growing up in Europe, what they’re most excited for people to see, and more. Check out what they had to say after the jump. Manhattan airs Sunday nights on WGN America.
Harry Lloyd and Katja Herber:
- What hooked them on the idea of Manhattan?
- How much did they know about the Manhattan Project growing up in other countries?
- What was their research process like?
- What are they most excited for people to see?
- Talk about how great the first two episodes are.
- Talk about working with the immersive sets and costumes.
Here’s the official synopsis for Manhattan:
Fueled by mystery and suspense, “Manhattan” is set in the 1940s in a town whose very existence is classified. Frank Winter and his team of brilliant but flawed scientists have been recruited to work on a project even they could know nothing about until their arrival. Once inside “The Hill,” a middle-class bubble on a dusty foothill in the New Mexico desert, they begin to sense that this is no ordinary assignment. In fact, they are living in a town with the world’s highest concentration of geniuses, yet it can’t be found on any map—a place where men and women are torn between duty and their moral values, husbands and wives conceal the truth from each other and their families, the military keeps secrets from the scientists they chaperone, and the scientists keep secrets from each other. “Manhattan” depicts the wonder, danger and deceit that shadowed the first “nuclear” families.