“Atlantic Crossing” on PBS’ Masterpiece is an intriguing and thought-provoking show. It is based on the real events during World War II when Hitler was invading one nation after another to enlarge the Third Reich.
Norway, being a neutral country, should be left alone, but Hitler does not pay any attention to neutrality. The King and Crown Prince Olav (Tobias Santelmann), along with the cabinet flee to London while Crown Princess Martha (Sofia Helin) and their three children take refuge in Sweden with her family.
Martha and her children soon become Nazi targets. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Kyle MacLachlan) comes to their rescue and devises a plan to get them safely to America. Once on American soil they are safe and free, but Martha longs for her husband and is concerned about the people of Norway.
As the days, weeks and months go by, Martha pleads with FDR to find a way to help the allies, even though America is neutral. It is her interference that helps bring America into the war in a “lend/lease” situation with the allies without actually committing the country formally to the conflict.
The cast met virtually with members of the media to discuss their characters, the story and history.
MacLachlan was asked about playing FDR.
“I didn’t really look at any previous performances or performers, which is strange for me, because usually the first thing I do is find out what everybody else has done,” he said. “So, the script was — everything was really there. The research, for me, was really one of the greatest joys, I’ve got to say. And I relied heavily on the Ken Burns documentary, and also on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about the Roosevelts.”
MacLachlan also stated, “And the idea of playing Roosevelt was a pretty monumental consideration. I mean, he stands tall among, certainly in American history and among all American presidents. And he’s this amazing personality.”
The actor said he delved into the psychology of FDR to discover why he did what he did.
“He was very playful and loved a good joke and loved to be, obviously, the — I won’t say ‘class clown,’ but he wanted all the attention on him. And (the filmmakers) let me run with that a little bit, which was a lot of fun.”
“I have been thinking a lot about women of that age,” said Helin, “how they were not in the center of politics necessarily, and how she was as royalty, not an official person, but not a political, official person, and how she had to become a political person and politically active, and even do things that she weren’t [sic] allowed to do, almost, in order to save her country.”
Helin is Swedish like the Crown Princess but this story was never taught to the Swedes.
The series will give viewers a new perspective on this time in history and an education about Crown Princess Martha. This is an eight-part series that premiered earlier this week on PBS’ Masterpiece.