Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton has signed on to star in Hulu’s eight-episode limited series Dopesick, which concerns the opioid crisis ravaging America.
Oscar winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man) will direct from a script by Emmy winner Danny Strong (Game Change), who adapted Beth Macy‘s bestselling book of the same name. Levinson, Strong, Macy and Keaton will executive produce Dopesick alongside John Goldwyn (Dexter), Warren Littlefield (Fargo) and Karen Rosenfelt (Twilight), and the series hails from Fox 21 Television Studios and The Littlefield Company. The show is expected to premiere on Hulu in 2021.
Hulu describes Dopesick as “an ambitious, harrowing, and compelling look into the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction. The show takes viewers from a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA, to the opulence of “one percenter” Big Pharma Manhattan. The unsparing yet deeply human portraits of the various affected families and their intersecting stories hold up a mirror to where America is right now, while shining a hopeful light on the heroes battling the worst drug epidemic in American history.”
Keaton, who hasn’t had a major TV role since TNT’s 2007 miniseries The Company, will play Samuel Finnix, an old-school doctor who approaches his practice with kindness and compassion, but finds himself embroiled in Big Pharma’s deadly secret.
“Danny’s unflinching and deeply compelling take on America’s opioid crisis will bring to life one of the most important stories impacting our culture,” said Hulu’s Craig Erwich.
“Although we were sharply aware of and empathetic to the horrifying pain caused by the opioid crisis for millions in this country, we were blown away when Warren Littlefield showed us Beth Macy’s book Dopesick. Consequently, Danny Strong had been crafting his own telling of the opiate epidemic and in typical Danny form, it was mesmerizing. We have every reason to believe this important story will be one of the TV events of the coming year,” said Fox 21 president Bert Salke.
“I’m so thrilled to tell this story with a company as bold and as daring as Hulu. The opioid crisis is one of the most important stories of our time and I’m honored to not only pay tribute to its victims but to shine a light on the heroes that fought back. Laws were broken and many lies were told. The system failed us and Dopesick is going to show everyone how it all happened,” added Strong.
While none of Hulu’s new shows have been up my alley, the streamer is certainly on a roll between High Fidelity, Little Fires Everywhere, Normal People and The Great. Hulu also has the Nicole Kidman–Melissa McCarthy series Nine Perfect Strangers on the horizon along with a limited series adaptation of the popular podcast The Dropout, which will star Kate McKinnon as disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard some very interesting names being considered for Dopesick. Some high-profile actors have already come and gone, but with Keaton now firmly onboard, expect him to be a talent magnet in the coming weeks. The 68-year-old actor earned his first Oscar nomination for his lead role in 2014’s Birdman, and followed it up with an acclaimed performance in Spotlight — which won back-to-back Oscars for Best Picture. Keaton will soon be seen in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sony’s Marvel movie Morbius, and Martin Campbell’s action thriller The Asset.