In one of the opening scenes of WGN’s “Manhattan,” Charlie Isaacs asks a stranger what the dusty foothill in the New Mexico desert is called. Isaacs quickly finds out the area has no name.
“Welcome to nowhere,” the stranger says.
Known simply as “The Hill,” that area of Los Alamos set the stage for incredible advances in nuclear physics while also becoming a home to many families and members the United States Armed Forces.
The exterior set for WGN’s “Manhattan” has been built in Santa Fe, which is only about 45 minutes southeast of Los Alamos.
“The work they’ve done to build this world is extraordinary,” Michael Chernus (“Louis ‘Fritz’ Fedowitz”) said.
“It takes an incredible imagination to make the fabric of this place so beautiful and believable,” Olivia Williams (“Liza Winter”) said.
According to the actors, sets like the one in Santa Fe make their job that much easier.
“Usually you’re on a sound stage where all the air is canned,” John Benjamin Hickey (“Frank Winter”) said. “This is… you open a door and look outside, and you’re really looking outside. And the dust blows in. It’s instant atmosphere.”
“You spend so much time sort of internally trying to figure out your character and wrap your head around it, that you come in and all this sort of external work supports all that preparation you’ve done,” Eddie Shin (“Sid Liao”) said.
And with all the attention to detail, some of the actors say stepping onto the set is like stepping back in time.
“Just being able to walk through the town, then open the door to my house, and go in to hangout in my bedroom, and read magazines form the 40’s…it’s just cool. I get to live in that world,” Alexia Fast (“Callie Winter”) said.