WGN America will debut its second original scripted series, “Manhattan,” on July 27. In preparation for the 1940s period drama, which surrounds the scientists tasked with developing the atomic bomb in New Mexico — and their in-the-dark families — Zap2it caught up with the cast for a Q&A about their new show.
Up next is Daniel Stern, who plays brilliant scientist Glenn Babbit, who is working on the team to develop the atomic bomb. (Are you beginning to sense a pattern here?)
Zap2it: Which is more challenging: ’40s fashion or nuclear physics?
Stern: The outfits might be a little warm and itchy, but the challenge of managing not only the math of nuclear physics but, more importantly, the geo-politics, is definitely greater.
What did you actually know about The Manhattan Project before you auditioned for the role?
I knew a little about the Los Alamos project, but mostly I knew of the horrific results of dropping the two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the devastating pictures and news footage.
If you could hang out with a real Manhattan Project scientist, who would you pick?
Oppenheimer or Einstein.
Marry/kiss/kick to the curb: Einstein, Oppenheimer, Fermi.
I don’t know what that means and I don’t think I want to.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about working on a period piece?
I love the immersion into another time and world and sensibility. There is nothing I don’t like about it.
What’s one thing about this time in history — or The Manhattan Project, specifically — that you didn’t know before you started working on the show?
There were many genies let out of many bottles during this time that changed our country fundamentally. Atomic weaponry made us a superpower; African-Americans, women, Jews and other oppressed Americans made undeniable contributions to our war efforts and were set on a path to greater equality and inclusion; and the great issues of today — security, weaponry, secrecy, science, the role of government, globalization, the military industrial machine, corruption — were all set in motion during this time period. In its small way, I hope our show can contribute to this all-important conversation.