Olivia Williams has revealed she embraced becoming a "big nerdy swot" when researching her latest role.
The Iron Man 3 star plays the wife of a physicist working to develop the world's first atom bomb in a top secret town in the 1940s in new American show Manhattan.
The show follows the scientists and their families dealing with the secrecy they must live with as the race to create the bomb progresses and Olivia said she was fascinated by that period of history.
Speaking on the red carpet at the Paley Centre for Media in Beverly Hills, the English actress added: "People have asked if I did lot of academic research and 'are you a big nerdy swot?' but the truth is once you start reading about it you can't stop.
"It's so bizarre, if it was proposed as a fictional sci-fi show you would think it was too ridiculous but it happened and we all know the results.
"We know the name Oppenheimer but I had no idea there was a secret city built, that anybody born there was told they were born at PO Box 1663, that people who left the base had to have a pass. It's such an extraordinary tale that this city didn't exist."
She said the issues raised by the show about nuclear power and secrecy and surveillance are just as relevant now as they ever were.
"We are asking the question now if we should go back to nuclear power, and Fukushima and the effects of that, and these were people discovering the effects every day.
"It's so relevant and it's so important but this is ultimately a soap opera about the people who tried to live under military law as citizens. If you wanted anything you had to ask the army, from diapers and sanitary towels, to vegetables and a chair and the sacrifices that people were prepared to make then collectively as a country to try to win a war. That was a time when people could really pull together to achieve something."
A UK air date for the show, which also features John Benjamin Hickey and Home Alone star Daniel Stern, is yet to be announced.