”This could happen to me in a heartbeat,“ Keaton tells TheWrap. ”I could be going, ‘How am I going to get dope today?'“
If nothing else, watching “Dopesick” will make you think twice about taking medication — even with both the FDA’s and your personal physician’s approvals. That was the case for stars Michael Keaton and Kaitlyn Dever.
Dever told TheWrap that the experience playing Betsy Mallum, a mine worker who becomes addicted to Purdue Pharmaceutical’s self-proclaimed “miracle drug” OxyContin after suffering a back injury, “definitely” opened her eyes to the dangers of medication — the ones we all overlook based on inherent trust.
“[Betsy] went in to see her doctor for some back pain and had no idea what was to come in her life,” Dever said. “It really does make you think.”
After all, “She’s just listening to her doctor,” Dever said.
And by the way, Betsy’s physician, Dr. Samuel Finnix (Keaton, who is also an executive producer of the limited series) was just listening to the Sackler Family-owned pharmaceutical company that assured him Oxy was virtually nonaddictive. His accidental violation of the very first tenet of The Hippocratic Oath was based on junk science and even junkier — but flashy — marketing.
Yes, “Dopesick” portrays the entire chain of terrifying events that led America, especially rural America where the miniseries takes place, into the opioid epidemic.
“To think about that is just truly heartbreaking,” Dever continued. “That part of the story impacted me in a lot of ways.”
It also impacted her co-star, Keaton, now 70, who as both a night owl and an early bird told TheWrap he feels like a prime “target” for the pharmaceutical industry. After all, those are the incessant ads he’s presented with during those odd TV hours.
“‘Yeah, that guy’s probably due for these kind of drugs now– he’s how old? Yeah, he’s probably breaking down,’” he envisioned big pharma executives saying about him. “So you see them coming after you.”
Yes, they’re even coming for Batman.
“If I don’t have to put something in my body, I don’t go near it. I get really spooked by it,” he said. “But at some point, I’m probably going to have to take something.”
Keaton, who shared that he takes prescription pills for a thyroid issue, said he tries to not default to solving problems through medication.
“This could happen to me in a heartbeat,” he said of how quickly something meant to help can do so much harm. “I could be going, ‘How am I going to get dope today?’”
“Dopesick,” which was written and executive produced by Danny Strong, examines how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma, to a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA. “Dopesick” is inspired by the New York Times bestselling book by Beth Macy, who earns an executive producer credit here as well.
In addition to Keaton and Dever, the eight-episode limited series stars Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker and Rosario Dawson. Guest stars include Phillipa Soo and Jake McDorman.
Barry Levinson, another executive producer on the project, directed “Dopesick.” John Goldwyn, Warren Littlefield and Karen Rosenfelt are the remaining executive producers.
The first three episodes of “Dopesick” premiere Wednesday on Hulu.
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