‘We Were the Lucky Ones’ Team on Why the Hulu Series Is Needed: ‘Holocaust Denial Is Still Out There and Antisemitism Is on the Rise’

Georgia Hunter is still in disbelief that her family’s story of surviving the Holocaust has been adapted into the Hulu limited series “We Were the Lucky Ones” headlined by Logan Lerman and Joey King. Based on Hunter’s novel of the same name, the show stars Lerman as her grandfather, Addy, and King as his little sister Halina, two of five Polish siblings trying to stay alive and bring their family back together during World War II.

“It’s surreal,” Hunter said at the March 21 premiere of the show, held at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles. “It’s really wonderful. We’ve been editing and watching it on small screens, so to see it up here with this incredible group of people, with all of you, I feel pretty good.”

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On the red carpet, Lerman spoke to Variety about the significance of sharing “We Were the Lucky Ones” with the world.

“It’s important because it’s true. It’s a true story,” he said. “You know, I’ve gotten submitted scripts and projects in the past that deal with a similar subject matter, but it’s fiction and it always felt wrong and felt exploitative. The truth matters.”

Lerman continued, “But on top of that, these are stories I haven’t seen told before in film and television. Perspectives on this period of history that I thought were important and necessary to explore. For instance, my character Addy, he’s a refugee just trying to seek refuge in any country that will let him in. I haven’t seen a movie or show about that. And I find that worthy of being told, being made, and I’m excited for people to see it.” (The premiere was Lerman’s first time seeing the show; “So I’m shook right now, that was great,” he said after the screening.)

Meanwhile, King spoke about the experience of bringing Halina to life on screen. The youngest of the five siblings, she has a headstrong personality and a close relationship with Lerman’s Addy.

“Just knowing so much about Halina’s real personality outside of the war and being able to find out who she was was so special because she’s a really unique person who went through something terrible,” King said. “And I really wanted to portray those things about her that make her unique…She had humor, she had light. She had all these wonderful qualities and she was strong in the face of darkness and she was brave and she was broken down…I feel so honored to have played someone so multifaceted. And I’m just in awe of her bravery.”

How did Lerman and King build that brother-sister bond that shows up so palpably on screen?

“Oh, it was already there,” Lerman told Variety. “Joey and I have known each other for so many years. But this project in particular was an excuse for us to hang out all the time — I mean, it was like six, seven months shoot. So that just made our bond even closer and she’s one of my best friends and I adore her.”

Erica Lipez took the reins of the series as the showrunner, writer and executive producer. She spoke with Variety about the importance of continuing to tell stories about the Holocaust: “I think I took for granted growing up that it would be a subject matter that was always taught, and it’s not being taught in the same way that it used to be. I think Holocaust denial is still out there and antisemitism is on the rise. And I think we need to understand how something like this can happen more than ever.”

Robin Weigert, who plays the matriarch of the Kurc family, expressed a similar perspective.

“I think a lot about World War II has been a bit buried for younger people,” she said. “They don’t necessarily understand the extent of the horror perpetrated upon the Jews in the second World War. Although, we’re thankfully in this series not subjected to it in a way that would re-traumatize the audience. The camera stays very tight with these young people as they’re having an experience of it and the empathy that it evokes — because it’s good storytelling — I think that has a tremendous value.”

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