Warning: This post contains spoilers from episode 4 of Dopesick.
Michael Keaton understood the importance of his Dopesick character. On a series about the start of the opioid crisis, his character, Dr. Samuel Finnix, represents the many doctors who went into medicine to help people and then found themselves prescribing a drug that they didn't realize would do harm to so many. And while the series works to tell the larger story of Purdue Pharma and the creation of OxyContin, the story's impact rests in its characters. "It only works if you respect this guy," Michael Keaton says of his character. "And what's not to respect? He's a really decent human being."
Antony Platt/Hulu Michael Keaton in 'Dopesick'
But even Keaton didn't see the episode 4 twist coming. After an accident, Dr. Finnix finds himself being prescribed OxyContin. And like some of his patients before him, he becomes addicted. "I wasn't quite ready, I have to admit," Keaton says. "I think I read three episodes and thought, 'Boy this sure is good,' and then I didn't pay much attention to it. I went off and did a movie or something. And then I learned what happens [in episode 4] and I thought two things: 'Oh, man, this is going to be way more work than I realized.' And the other thing was, 'What have I gotten myself into?' But the die was cast. So once that happens, you just kind of buckle up."
As challenging as the role was, Dr. Finnix's arc is crucial to the larger story that the series is telling, one that even Keaton admits shocked him from time to time. "I'm a bit of a news junkie, and I basically knew what this story was," Keaton says of the story of Purdue Pharma. "But the whole thing still shocked me. I would ask [creator] Danny [Strong], 'Did they say this exactly?' 'Is this accurate?' Because I'm also an executive producer on it, and I had to be cognizant of things. But at least weekly, there was something that I thought, 'Wait a minute, it can't be this blatant.'"
That's one of the great things about this story. As Keaton puts it, "There's a clear villain. They actually did that, as opposed to a villain in a James Bond movie or a villain in a Batman movie."
New episodes of Dopesick hit Hulu on Wednesdays.
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