Peacock is diving into the docudrama game with Dr. Death, a limited series based on the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, the Texas surgeon who was convicted of gross malpractice after 30 patients were left seriously injured — or dead — after he operated on them. Like the Wondery podcast of the same name, Dr. Death charts Dr. Duntsch’s early days in the medical field, his meteoric rise, and his eventual demise, led by two doctors and a Dallas prosecutor. With its intriguing real-life premise, the new series has all the markings of a streaming success story, but Peacock has further sweetened the deal with an A-list cast that includes Joshua Jackson, Alec Baldwin, and Christian Slater. Ready to step into the operating room? Read on to learn who’s who in Dr. Death on Peacock:
Joshua Jackson dons the white coat as Dr. Christopher Duntsch, aka Dr. Death. A rising star in the Dallas medical community, the young and charismatic Dr. Duntsch was in the process of building a successful neurosurgery practice when patients started leaving his operating room permanently maimed or dead. Jackson may be new to the O.R., but he’s a veteran in Hollywood: as a child he played Gordon Bombay’s protégé, Charlie Conway, in The Mighty Ducks films, and later starred in Dawson’s Creek as bad boy Pacey Witter. Jackson then transitioned to more adult fare, booking lead roles in Fringe, The Affair, and Shutter. He's received critical acclaim in recent years for his portrayal of defense attorney Mickey Joseph in the limited series When They See Us and for starring opposite Reese Witherspoon in Little Fires Everywhere.
Dr. Duntsch would have gotten away with his crimes were it not for Dr. Robert Henderson, a neurosurgeon who ses out to stop his colleague. Dr. Henderson is played by Alec Baldwin, playing a good guy role that runs counter to his brash, combative reputation. Unlike Jackson, Baldwin is no stranger to hospital drama: his very first screen role came on NBC daytime soap The Doctors, in which he played Billy Aldrich from 1980 to 1982. From there he landed roles in Knot’s Landing, Beetlejuice, Working Girl, and The Hunt for Red October. After appearing in Martin Scorsese hits The Aviator and The Departed, Baldwin returned to small screen as 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy, a role that earned him two Emmys and three Golden Globes. In the years since 30 Rock, Baldwin has continued to stay in the mainstream with appearances in two Mission: Impossible films, game show hosting gigs, and, of course, a lengthy tenure as Saturday Night Live’s Donald Trump.
Joining Dr. Henderson in his quest to bring Dr. Duntsch to justice is vascular surgeon Dr. Randall Kirby, played by Christian Slater. Slater comes to Dr. Death following a lengthy career that began with breakout performances in The Legend of Billie Jean and Heathers. In the 1990s, he became a bonafide movie star, appearing in a host of high profile films, including Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Quentin Tarantino-written crime drama True Romance, Interview with the Vampire, and Broken Arrow. More recently, he's focused on television work, earning a Golden Globe for his performance as a computer hacker who recruits Rami Malek’s character in Mr. Robot. In addition, he can be heard as “Slater” in animated series Archer, as Ushari in The Lion Guard, and as DC Comics’ Deadshot.
AnnaSophia Robb plays Michelle Shughart, a Dallas prosecutor who evaluates the case against Duntsch after it’s brought to her attention by Drs. Henderson and Kirby. Moviegoers will recognize Robb from starring roles in Bridge to Terabithia, Race to Witch Mountain, and Soul Surfer, among other films. On the TV side, the 27-year-old actress has played a young Carrie Bradshaw in The CW’s The Carrie Diaries, Gypsy Blanchard’s neighbor Lacey in The Act, and a younger version of Reese Witherspoon’s character in Little Fires Everywhere.
Once you learn that Grace Gummer is Meryl Streep’s daughter, you’ll never be able to unsee it. Gummer got her start in 1993 drama The House of the Spirits, in which she played a younger version of Streep’s character, before taking a hiatus from Hollywood to finish school. She later appeared in the TeenNick show Gigantic, made her Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia revival, and broke out as journalist Hallie Shea in The Newsroom. More recently, she starred opposite Rami Malek in Mr. Robot, appeared in Beast of Burden, and had a small role in Billy Crystal’s Standing Up, Falling Down. In Dr. Death, Gummer plays Dr. Kim Morgan, a physician’s assistant in Dr. Duntsch’s office who comes to realize that he’s hiding a sinister secret.
As. Dr. Duntsch’s circulating nurse, Josh Baker gets a first-hand look at his less than conventional approach to surgery, but his efforts to stand up to Duntsch are quickly shut down. Josh Baker is played by Hubert Point-Du Jour, an up-and-coming actor best known for his recurring roles in The Good Lord Bird and City on a Hill. He's also appeared in The Public’s Much Ado About Nothing, Madam Secretary, Elementary, and Blindspot.
Veteran character actor Dominic Burgess brings his skills to Peacock as Dr. Death’s Jerry Summers, a longtime friend of Dr. Duntsch who made the mistake of getting on his operating table. Fans will recognize the British actor from his roles in Raising Hope, Doctor Who, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Santa Clarita Diet, and Feud: Bette and Joan, in which he portrayed actor Victor Buono. On the film side, Burgess got his start in 2005 classic Batman Begins and has appeared in horror film Ma and crime dramedy Breaking News in Yuba County.
Seen both in flashbacks and the present-day, Wendy Young, played by Molly Griggs, is Dr. Duntsch’s girlfriend (and later, ex-girlfriend) and the mother of his child. A relative newcomer, Griggs has had a busy few years: she played human rights attorney Eve Blanchard in the first season of Prodigal Son, reporter Isabelle Carrick in Apple TV+ drama Servant, and Roman Roy’s ex Grace in Succession. She can next be seen in Before I Go, a dramedy starring Annabella Sciorra.
Viewers won’t see much of Robbie McClung in the first few episodes of Dr. Death, but as Dr. Duntsch’s lead defense attorney, expect more of her as the series continues. The real-life McClung is played by perennial favorite Carrie Preston, best known for lengthy stints on Claws, Person of Interest, The Good Wife, and True Blood. For her work as The Good Wife’s Elsbeth Tascioni, she received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Star, winning once in 2013. Beyond these recurring roles, Preston has appeared in various high-profile films, including The Stepford Wives, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Doubt, and Duplicity.
All eight episodes of Dr. Death drop Thursday July 15th on Peacock.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.