Chernobyl actor Alex Ferns has revealed that he believes his uncle, Robert Stephenson, died as a result of the nuclear plant disaster depicted on the HBO show. Stephenson worked for the Scottish Water Board and was exposed to rain poisoned by the 1986 accident at the facility in Pripyat, Ukraine. Stephenson died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 47. Ferns portrays a miner on the show.
“Chernobyl’s a hard story, especially for me,” Ferns says, in an interview with Scotland’s Daily Record. “I’ll tell you why it’s a hard story. My uncle Robert used to work for the Scottish Water Board. When Chernobyl happened, the poisoned rain came over the west and center of Scotland. My uncle and his colleagues were out working in the rain in the Killearn area and asked to come in but were told by their [manager] to stay outside and to carry on working. They carried on. Not one of them reached the age of 50, including Robert. They all died of cancer. I think that’s a f—ing tragedy. That’s a reflection of the bigger picture of Chernobyl that we see in the show. Some people just don’t f—ing care about anybody else. It’s personal to me, it really is. Whether the Chernobyl rain is what gave him the cancer, they don’t know 100 percent but the family are convinced it had something to do with it. Apart from telling me himself numerous times that he felt Chernobyl had made him sick, Robert’s closest friend said he believed it too.”
Chernobyl stars Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, and Emily Watson.