Hulu's new miniseries Dopesick tells the tragic and urgent true story of how the introduction of OxyContin played a foundational role in America's opioid epidemic. Based on the novel Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America, the eight-episode series centers around a small-town doctor who was sold on the benefits of OxyContin as an effective pain reliever with a very low risk for addiction, the working-class community that was decimated when the drug turned out to be quite addictive, and the giant pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, that cut corners, falsified claims, and pushed the drug through FDA approvals and into doctors' offices nationwide.
Written and developed by Danny Strong (HBO's Recount and Game Change), with episodes directed by Academy Award-winner Barry Levinson, the series boasts an all-star cast headlined by the great Michael Keaton (who is also producing the series). Who else is onboard, and where have you seen them before? Read on.
Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Keaton leads the cast of Dopesick as Dr. Samuel Finnix, the trusted doctor in his Virginia mining community who ends up prescribing OxyContin to many of his patients and then living with the guilt over the lives the drug ruins. Keaton is most famous for his starring roles in the two Tim Burton-directed Batman movies, Beetlejuice, Night Shift, the title role in the Best Picture-winning Birdman, and most recently in the Oscar-nominated films Spotlight and The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Mountcastle is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Purdue Pharma for its deception and negligence in pushing OxyContin. He's played by Peter Sarsgaard, known for his critically acclaimed performances in films like Shattered Glass (for which he won the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actor), Garden State, Kinsey, and An Education. He recently starred in the Hulu miniseries The Looming Tower, about the FBI and CIA's missteps in tracking Osama bin Laden's actions leading up to 9/11, and later this year he'll star in The Lost Daughter, directed by his wife, Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Richard Sackler is the pharma billionaire who, as the head of Purdue Pharma, oversaw the development and aggressive peddling of OxyContin. He was later, as is depicted in Dopesick, sued for millions. He's played by Michael Stuhlbarg, one of the great working character actors, best known for roles like Arnold Rothstein in Boardwalk Empire, the dad in Call Me By Your Name, and Andy Hertzfeld in Steve Jobs. He also received an Emmy nomination for his performance (alongside Sarsgaard) in The Looming Tower.
Will Poulter's breakthrough roles came as a teenager, first in the Danny Boyle film Son of Rambow and then as Eustace Stubbs in the third Chronicles of Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He went on to play Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis's fake son in We're the Millers, a participant in the first and third Maze Runner movies, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, and as a rude American in the 2019 horror movie Midsommar. In Dopesick, he plays Billy, a fresh young sales representative for Purdue Pharma tasked with selling OxyContin to doctors.
At age 24, Kaitlyn Dever has quickly established herself as one of the great actresses of her generation. Her breakthrough performance in the FX series Justified in 2011 set the standard, she stole scenes opposite Brie Larson in Short Term 12, and shined in the teen comedy Booksmart and the Netflix limited series Unbelievable, two roles that couldn't have been more different. She most recently managed to earn praise for her performance in Dear Evan Hansen even as the film itself was getting ripped by critics. In Dopesick she plays Betsy, a young Virginia coal miner and patient of Dr. Finnix's who gets prescribed OxyContin to help deal with injuries sustained in the mine, only to have to deal with the drug's addictive consequences.
Dawson plays Drug Enforcement Administration agent Bridget Meyer, who heads up the investigation into the illegal practices that went into getting OxyContin approved. Dawson has been acting since her debut performance in the controversial 1995 movie Kids, breaking through with roles in films like He Got Game and Josie and the Pussycats. She ruled in Spike Lee's 25th Hour, her Mimi in the Rent movie is hugely underrated, and her performance as Claire Temple (aka The Night Nurse) was a rare bright spot in Netflix's now departed Marvel Universe.
John Hoogenakker is probably best known for his role as a black ops CIA operator opposite John Krasinski in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan for Amazon. He also played father to Lizzy Caplan's Annie Wilkes on the second season of Hulu's Castle Rock. On Dopesick, he plays another assistant U.S. Attorney investigating Purdue Pharma, alongside Sarsgaard and Dawson's characters.
He's appeared on Shameless, the revival of Murphy Brown, the Disney+ remake of The Right Stuff, and played the lead on CBS's version of the Bradley Cooper movie Limitless, but Jake McDornan will always and forever be best remembered as preppie fraternity boy Evan Chambers on Greek. In Dopesick he plays John Brownlee, yet another U.S. Attorney attempting to prosecute Purdue Pharma for OxyContin.
Phillipa Soo earned both Tony and Emmy Award nominations for her performance as Eliza Hamilton in the smash Broadway musical Hamilton. She also originated the title role of Natasha in the off-Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, although she was occupied with Hamilton when that show's Broadway transfer came around. Most recently she voiced a very pop-star incarnation of the goddess Chang'e in the Netflix animated film Over the Moon. She plays Amber in Dopesick, another sales rep for Purdue Pharma.
Dopesick premieres on Hulu Wednesday October 13th. New episodes are set to be released weekly through November 17.
Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.