Atlantic Crossing: Everything You Need to Know
Get ready for the premiere of the epic World War II drama Atlantic Crossing! Find out about the surprising history that inspired the series, the cast including Kyle MacLachlan as U.S.President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Sofia Helin as Norwegian Crown Princess Martha, where the series was filmed, and how you can watch. See the premiere of the eight-part series on Sunday, April 4, 2021, 9/8c, on MASTERPIECE on PBS.
What is Atlantic Crossing and What Can You Expect?
Inspired by a true story of a friendship forged in wartime, Atlantic Crossing explores politics and ambition as Norway’s Crown Princess Martha flees to America for safety when her country is invaded by the Nazis, and is taken under the wing of the U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt. What she didn’t anticipate was becoming a powerful advocate for her country, and developing a surprising relationship with a U.S. leader.
Atlantic Crossing star Kyle MacLachlan (Franklin Roosevelt) describes the show as “a wonderful story about people in extraordinary situations and what they have to do—the decisions and sacrifices they have to make, and the moral courage they have to have.”
And indeed, across the show’s eight episodes, Atlantic Crossing‘s Norwegian and American characters navigate war, diplomacy, desire, and jealousy.
As for the shy Norwegian princess, everything changed with the arrival of war in Europe. “She had to develop from a passive figure to an active person, who worked politically for her country and who was in a dilemma whether to use someone’s feelings or whether to save her country,” Helin explained.
Is Atlantic Crossing a True Story?
According to Alexander Eik, Atlantic Crossing‘s creator, director, and co-writer, “what ‘inspired by true events’ really means is some of this actually happened, some of it could likely have happened, and the rest of it is made up.”
“Well, writing fictional drama inspired by true events is always a delicate balancing act between staying true to history and at the same time creating a compelling dramatization, and not least to be respectful to the subjects many of whom are still alive today. So, the main challenge was to imagine what went on behind closed doors.”
The writers spent 6 to 7 years researching all sides of the events depicted in the series, as well as the personalities of all the characters involved. For the closed-door conversations that there was no solid research on, they carefully took into consideration what they knew of those historical figures and tried to imagine themselves in their shoes — for some, it was easier than others.
“It was hard to get a sense of who Martha was as a person behind the royal façade,” Eik explained. “Mostly in history books she’s only mentioned briefly as a side character, so we had to approach the writing process as detectives, and combining gold digging and laying out this big puzzle, and of course there are many missing pieces to the puzzle and that’s where we create the fictional parts.”
Admittedly, Eik said, “We tried to stick as close as possible to those scenarios, but of course in the end this is a fictional work inspired by true events.”
Who's in the Cast?
Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City, Blue Velvet) stars as the indomitable FDR, and Sofia Helin stars as the courageous Norwegian Crown Princess Martha. Also starring in this international co-production are Tobias Santelmann (Kon Tiki) as Martha’s husband, Norwegian Crown Prince Olav; Søren Pilmark (Downsizing) as Olav’s father, King Haakon VII; Harriet Sansom Harris (Desperate Housewives) as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; Lucy Russell (Wolf Hall) as presidential secretary Missy LeHand; Daniel Betts (The Crown) as foreign policy advisor Harry Hopkins; and Suzanne Bertish (The Wife) as American diplomat Florence Harriman.
Where was it Filmed?
The epic, political drama was filmed in both the Czech Republic (first) and Norway (second) — and boasts as one of the biggest productions in Scandinavian history. “It has the highest budget in Scandinavia for any series as far as I know. We put all the resources we had into it,” said series producer Silje Hopland in an interview with Variety.
Luckily for the cast and crew, the series wrapped shooting before the global pandemic that affected many other film and television productions all over the world.
How to Watch Atlantic Crossing
Be sure to tune-in live every Sunday at 9/8c from April 4 through May 23 for all new episodes of the series.
Can’t tune in every Sunday? We’ve got you covered! Binge-watch all eight episodes of Atlantic Crossing with PBS Passport, an added member benefit, beginning on the day of the premiere, Sunday, April 4. New to PBS Passport? Get full details and sign up now.
You can also stream full episodes on the PBS Video App, PBS.org and the MASTERPIECE website for 14 days after the episode premieres.
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