Danny Strong’s connection to his newest project, “Dopesick” is personal and profound. Strong was unaware of the story when it was introduced to him, but he quickly realized that the events surrounding the nationwide epidemic known as the opioid crisis were screen worthy and needed to be told to a broader audience.
From there, Strong Strong set out to make a film that would tell the stories of the people behind the headlines. He wanted the series to be a showcase of Purdue Pharma (run by the Sackler family) that set the events of the opioid crisis in motion, along with the doctors, patients, and communities negatively impacted by Purdue Pharma’s actions.
It was Strong’s personal mission to take the best-selling book, “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” by Beth Macy and turn it into a visual tale of raw, emotional honesty. The story, like the opioid crisis itself, is complex, with much of the plot revolving around morality, love, perseverance, and justice. Strong uses cinematic enhancement to tell the story, which is based on factual events, without losing sight of the real-life people involved.
Masterful Storytelling of a Major Issue
Danny Strong sets the series up as a multilayered docudrama that spans time and geographical location. Watching the series feels like a ride across space and time as the lives and actions of the characters play out with cinematic precision and depth. Three intertwined storylines cover the internal stories of struggle, along with the larger concepts of legal drug regulation and corporate greed. Strong heavily focuses on keeping true to the story’s real-life events while developing his characters in captivating and engaging form.
Strong seeks to use “Dopesick” to advocate for those harmed by the actions of Purdue Pharma. He hopes that he can shine a light on the need for governments across the world to prioritize pharmaceutical drug regulation for the safety and well-being of its citizens. Doing so can perhaps help keep others from experiencing the devastating consequences of opioids in America.
An All-Star Cast
Strong’s series features an all-star cast of actors who portray their roles with realism and heart. Michael Keaton plays Dr. Samuel Finnix, a doctor in a small Appalachian community who wants to help his ailing patients. Unfortunately, he winds up participating in the development of their opioid addiction. Michael Stuhlbarg portrays Richard Sackler, the man who was the primary player in the criminal mismarketing of OxyContin. Will Poulter portrays Billy Cutler who worked for Purdue Pharma, helping to distribute the drug and persuading Dr. Finnix to prescribe OxyContin to his unsuspecting patients. Kaitlyn Dever portrays Betsy who falls into addiction after she takes OxyContin to help with pain from an injury. Rosario Dawson plays U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency deputy director Bridget Meyer who sets out to uncover the deeds of Purdue Pharma and hold them responsible for the unethical marketing behind the crisis.
For viewers who have experienced tragedy associated with opioid addiction, the series may resonate on a deep level. For those who have not been personally impacted by the opioid crisis, the series can serve as a learning experience. Either way, hopefully, the show will be viewed and utilized as a catalyst for important conversations about the responsibilities of healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies to patients and consumers. Furthermore, it can serve as a way to discuss the government’s role in sanctioning and regulating the distribution of potentially addictive medications.
Each of the characters represents a different facet of the opioid crisis. Poor pharmaceutical regulation impacts every aspect of society, and the seriousness of its consequences is exactly what Danny Strong attempts to highlight with the story. For Strong, the story is more than a bio-piece. It is Strong’s effort to use his art form to inform the public, engage viewers, and potentially save the lives of others by showing the injustices that took place with OxyContin distribution.
Danny Strong’s Many Talents and Accolades
In addition to writing “Dopesick” for the small screen, Strong also executive produces and serves as a director for the show. Strong has spent over 30 years in the show business. Strong has played memorable characters in television and film and is no stranger to the camera. In acting, Danny Strong has played unforgettable characters in the television comedy-drama “Gilmore Girls,” the crime series “Mad Men,” and the 90’s television adaptation of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” [Wikipedia]
As a writer, Strong has worked on the blockbuster films in “The Hunger Games” franchise and worked alongside talents like Oprah Winfrey on the film “The Butler.” With two Emmy Awards, two Writers Guild of America Awards, and an NAACP Image Award to his name, Strong proves he’s the real deal when it comes to impactful storytelling. You can watch Dopesick on Hulu.