Over 800,000 Americans have died from overdosing on opioids since the 1990s. “Dopesick,” a new limited series on Hulu, chronicles the start of an epidemic fueled by Big Pharma and its devastating impact on individuals, families and the country. The Post’s senior writer Frances Stead Sellers talks to Michael Keaton and Rosario Dawson, the show’s lead actors, alongside Danny Strong, the show’s creator and executive producer, about the ongoing opioid crisis and the series’ in-depth exploration of how we got where we are today.

Highlights

“[The Purdue Pharma settlement] doesn’t feel punitive on any level whatsoever. And ultimately it goes into… everything that I’ve been feeling about the Sacklers through my entire research process… which is that they always get away with it.” (Washington Post Live)
“Hopefully a story like this will shift that narrative because there is other things we can do, like passing the Sackler Act that will prevent them from hiding behind Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy.” (Washington Post Live)
“It was so overt… I often would be doing a scene and I’d have to talk to Danny or Barry Levinson… to say ‘I think this is a little too obvious and too on the head and not really believable.’ And they would inevitably… point to something that… was just factual.” (Washington Post Live)
“The show basically ends in 2007 and I’m sad to say the amount of criminal behavior from 2007 to 2020 was so staggering that Purdue Pharma had to plead guilty again in 2020 to two more felonies… So yeah, maybe there is a potential season two.” (Washington Post Live)

Rosario Dawson

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Rosario Dawson is an artist, designer and activist. She made her feature film debut at the age of 15 in the controversial “Kids” followed by Spike Lee’s “He Got Game” and “The 25th Hour.” She’s since starred in a range of films including “Alexander,” “Rent,” “Clerks II,” “Top Five,” “Unstoppable,” and “Men in Black II,” as well as the “Sin City” franchise. She is the voice of ‘Barbara Gordon/Batgirl’ in “The Lego Batman Movie,” ‘Wonder Woman’ in several DC Animated films, ‘Rezzoch’ in Netflix’s “The Last Kids on Earth” and ‘Ms. Ramiro’ for Nickelodeon’s “It’s Pony.” For her performance in “Seven Pounds,” Dawson won Best Actress in a Motion Picture Award at the 2009 NAACP Image Awards. On the small screen, Dawson starred as ‘Allegra Dill’ in USA’s “Briarpatch” and as ‘Claire Temple’ in the Netflix adaptation of the Marvel comic book series “Daredevil,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” and “The Defenders.” She also loved joining “Jane the Virgin” for two seasons as ‘Jane Ramos’. Her next to be released projects include David Oyelowo’s directed, “The Waterman” that premiered at TIFF followed by the Ava DuVernay directed pilot “DMZ” for HBO Max. It was recently announced that she will be starring in the Hulu miniseries, “Dopesick,” and the highly anticipated “Mandalorian” spin-off series, “Ahsoka Tano.”

Aside from her acting credits, Rosario has produced several passion projects such as Talia Lugacy’s “Descent,” “This is Not a War Film” and “The Need to Grow” which highlights innovators healing our broken food systems and the need for soil regeneration to capture carbon and reverse climate change. Rosario was a co-host, editor and producer of “The Assembly” for Free Speech television on the subjects of hate, protest and the future featuring scholars, activists and artists in 2018. Recently, Rosario directed her first short film “Boundless” for the Power/On Series as part of the Straight Up Films anthology to encourage girls in S.T.E.A.M. in partnership with YouTube and Google.

In 2013, Rosario founded Studio One Eighty Nine (Studio 189) with Abrima Erwiah, a fashion and media lifestyle brand made in Africa that produces African and African-inspired content and clothing. Studio 189 was recently the recipient of the prestigious CFDA Lexus Sustainable Fashion Initiative prize and of other various awards including the Martin Luther King Jr Social Justice award, the MOCADA Social Justice award, and most recently the 2020 Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian’s emerging designer award. Rosario notably wore Studio 189 designs in the Lebron James’ produced NBA 2K20 game that featured her likeness and voice via performance capture.

Dawson is extremely passionate about helping empower LatinX millennials to vote and lead so in 2004, she co-founded Voto Latino. The organization has registered over one million people and was one of the co-founders of National Voter Registration Day. In honor of Fall Voting Season 2020 she fostered a partnership between Studio One Eighty Nine and Voto Latino represented as Fashion Our Future 2020; a voter registration and GOTV initiative that Abrima and Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh, lead. Dawson is an active board member of V-Day, The Lower East Side Girls Club, Operation USA and the Environmental Media Association. In 2011, Rosario was honored by Barack Obama with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her valuable contributions to the community.

Michael Keaton

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Academy Award®-nominated actor Michael Keaton has created some of the most iconic, diverse and beloved performances of all time. He is one of the few leading men whose films, “Spotlight” and “Birdman,” won the Academy Award® for Best Picture back-to-back.

Currently, Keaton can be seen as Former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7which Netflix released on October 16. Keaton’s brief appearance garnered rave reviews. The Wrap describes his performance by saying “with effortless command, Keaton steals the show by slowing the rapid-fire Sorkin dialogue down to a crawl; he makes you lean in for every word.” The critically acclaimed ensemble cast has earned various accolades, including the first-ever Gotham Independent Film Ensemble Tribute and the Vanguard Award at the Palm Springs International Film Awards. Additionally, the cast received a SAG nomination for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast.”

Upcoming in 2021, Keaton stars in and executive produces Hulu’s new series “Dopesick” written by Danny Strong and directed by Barry Levinson. Keaton stars alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Maggie Q in Martin Campbell’s action thriller feature film “The Protégé,” for Lionsgate which will be released on August 20th. Additionally, Keaton stars in and produced Sara Colangelo’s real-life drama “Worth,” which will be released by Netflix and presented by the Obama’s Higher Ground Productions on September 3rd, timed to the 20th anniversary on 9/11. The film follows Kenneth Feinberg (Keaton), an accomplished lawyer appointed Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, tasked by Congress to allocate financial compensation to the victims of the tragedy — to calculate incalculable loss in the face of cynicism, bureaucracy, and the politics of division.

Keaton will appear in Sony’s “Morbius,” based on the Marvel Comics of the same name, set to release January 21, 2022.

In 2015, Keaton starred in the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture “Spotlight,” the compelling true story of how The Boston Globe uncovered a massive scandal within the Catholic Church. In Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” Keaton amassed high praise for his role as Riggan, a one-time celebrated, now washed-up actor battling to regain his ego and career by mounting a Broadway production. For his work in Birdman, Keaton was nominated for an Academy Award® and won the Golden Globe® , Independent Spirit and National Board of Review Awards for Best Actor as well as many other nominations and honors including a SAG Ensemble Cast win.

In one of Hollywood’s great collaborations of all time, Keaton has worked with the visionary filmmaker Tim Burton four times, most recently on Walt Disney Studios’ “Dumbo,” which was released in March 2019. Prior to that, Keaton played the title role in the blockbusters “Batman” and “Batman Returns.” Their first collaboration was the beloved classic “Beetlejuice.

Additional credits include his portrayal of Vulture in the fan-favorite “Spiderman: Homecoming;” a legendary CIA trainer in “American Assassin;” his portrayal of Roy Kroc, the father of McDonald’s, in “The Founder;” as intrepid CNN reporter Robert Weiner in HBO’s “Live from Baghdad,” and Universal’s thriller “White Noise” and “Game Six.” Keaton first achieved national attention with the hit comedy “Night Shift,” followed by starring roles in such popular films as “Mr. Mom,” “Johnny Dangerously” and “Dream Team.”

Danny Strong

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Danny Strong started his career as an actor in numerous classic films and TV shows, then transitioned into screenwriting, exploding onto the scene with his 2007 script “Recount” which became an award-winning HBO Film. Since then, he has become a prolific film and TV writer/director/producer.

Strong is the creator and showrunner of the upcoming Hulu series “Dopesick,” starring Michael Keaton and based on the bestselling book by Beth Macy. He was co-creator and executive producer of the hit FOX drama “Empire,” of which he wrote and directed numerous episodes. The show won Best Drama at the NAACP Image Awards, was named TV Program of the Year by the AFI Awards, Outstanding New Program by the Television Critics Association, and was nominated for two Golden Globes, six Primetime Emmys, and two Critics Choice Awards. He was the Executive Producer of the FOX legal drama “Proven Innocent” starring Rachelle Lefevere and Kelsey Grammer.

On the feature side, Strong wrote the screenplay for “The Butler,” which starred Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. It was the sleeper hit of 2013, grossing over $100M at the US box-office. He also co-wrote the mega-hit Lionsgate franchise films “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay:” (Part I and II). In 2017, Strong made his feature directorial debut of his screenplay “Rebel in the Rye,” starring Nicholas Hoult, Kevin Spacey, Hope Davis, and Sarah Paulson. The film premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by IFC Films.

Strong began his writing career by writing and producing the HBO films “Recount” and “Game Change” about the 2000 and 2008 elections. Jay Roach directed both of the highly acclaimed films. Strong’s debut script “Recount” was voted #1 on the Hollywood Blacklist and the film featured an all-star cast and garnered 11 Emmy nominations (including a Best Writing nomination and a win for Best TV Movie), five Golden Globe Nominations, and Strong received the Writer’s Guild Award for his screenplay. His follow-up project “Game Change,” starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, was also a critical success and swept the 2012-13 award season. Strong won Emmys for Outstanding Writing and Best Movie/Miniseries, a Writers Guild Award, a Golden Globe, the Producers Guild Award, a Peabody and the Pen Award for the film.

In addition to his thriving career as a screenwriter and director, Strong is also an actor with extensive credits in film, television and theater. He is best known for the five seasons he played Jonathan on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and the four seasons he played Doyle on “Gilmore Girls” also appearing in the highly acclaimed “Gilmore Girls Revival” on Netflix. His other credits include such iconic projects as “Pleasantville,” “Seinfeld,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and many more. Most recently, he has been seen on seasons 4 and 6 of “Mad Men” as Danny Siegal, the last two seasons of “Justified,” on HBO’s “Girls,” and is currently recurring on Showtime’s “Billions” as Todd Krakow. On stage, he has appeared in over 50 plays and musicals in regional and LA theaters.