Hulu’s Dopeic creator Danny Strong, star Peter Sarsgaard tackles US opioid epidemic


Listen to Danny Strong and Peter Sarsgaard on today’s “Beyond the Fame” podcast. An 11-year-old growing up in Manhattan Beach, California …

Listen to Danny Strong and Peter Sarsgaard on today’s “Beyond the Fame” podcast.

‘Dopeic’ preview with Jason Fraley Danny Strong (part 1)

Growing up in Manhattan Beach, California, 11-year-old Danny Strong was visiting a local video store to watch movies with Quentin Tarantino, a local sales clerk.

“[My mom] I was taken to an avant-garde video store, ”Strong said. “The video store clerk was really outgoing, quirky, dynamic guy Quentin and I loved him.

He didn’t know Quentin would do “Pulp Fiction,” but Strong would create TV’s “Empire,” which continues with Wednesday’s Hulu miniseries “Dopeic.”

“This is the story of the opioid crisis, but specifically the crimes of Purdue Pharma,” Strong said. “The show follows US lawyers and their prosecutors, who produced a case against Purdue in 2007.”

Beth Massey’s 2018 book, “Dopecic: Dealers, Doctors and Drug Company at America,” covers local relations from the DC government to Virginia coal miners.

“We are following a DEA agent who is actively trying to stop many pills from being sold on the streets of Purdue,” Strong said. “We go to a small Virginia coal town with their fatal deception, in which we see a country doctor playing Michael Keaton prescribe oxycontin to his patients because a Purdue Pharma representative lied.”

Keaton portrays a deep cast including Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stulberg, Kaitlyn Dever, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, Rosario Dawson and Philippa Sue.

“They’re really the best,” Strong said. “They are so talented. We are lucky to have all these wonderful actors.

Sarsgaard says that working with personal leaders like Keaton is a dream come true.

“I only overlapped with Michael Keaton in one scene,” Sarsgaard said. “We were all in the same courtroom and we should have seen each other once or twice. I was a little older and it was a little heartbreaking since I was young. My kids grew up in ‘Beetlejuice’.

His portrayal of Rick Mount Castle is a welcome addition to his “shattered glass” philosophy.

“I seldom give a part of where David and Goliath are,” Sarsgaard said. “I really appreciated what Danny encouraged me to do and I was given a lot of time Others Part … After meeting Rick Mount Castle, I admire him for being such an honorable man.

Characters intertwine to portray a mosaic of sorts for lawyers and pharmaceutical managers.

“This is a book filled with all these multiple narratives, some of which dominate,” said Sarsgaard. Those narratives are kind of intertwined with “Traffic.” I have no better show runner than Danny Strong.

Several episodes were directed by Barry Levinson (“Diner,” “The Natural,” “Rain Man”).

“We’ve never worked together,” Strong said. “He lived for a long time in New York City and we didn’t live far away from each other, so we would have breakfast every three or four months. Breakfast with Barry was magic. He was one of the greats of the last 50 years. There was no end to what he did. He was very gee-shy. I’ve called.

Strong himself has plenty of intelligence on both sides of the camera. He began his career as an actor, starring Jonathan in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and Doyle in “Gilmore Girls.”

“It’s great. Those shows are so beloved and iconic,” Strong said. “I didn’t see it when we were on the air. No show was a huge hit at the time. They had pop-culture credit. They were seen as teen shows. Over the years, they became a love piece of American entertainment and I’m very proud to be a part of them.

He voiced Vincent Pix in the video store and starred in “Seinfeld” as a film critic.

“For some of my relatives, when I was Vincent in the ‘Vincent’s Pix series, it never got bigger – I never overcame it,'” Strong said. “Maybe I was channeling Quentin Tarantino when I was playing Vincent from my childhood.”

He went on to write about the 2000 presidential election with the HBO movie “Recount.”

“I’m very angry with the Iraq war,” Strong said. “I feel like we’ve been completely lied to; Saddam Hussein clearly has nothing to do with 9/11. It’s al-Qaeda. … I saw a drama about the Iraq War [called] ‘Stuff Happens’ by David Hare. I said, ‘That’s what I need to do.’ … The first idea that popped into my head… Florida Re-Count. “

After that, he added the HBO movie “Game Change” about the 2008 election, followed by a different political image that tracks White House butler Cecil Gaines in “The Butler” (2013).

“We were in post production on ‘The Butler’ and Lee Daniels kept telling me, ‘What are we doing next? We’re magic together,'” Strong said. [Puffy] The comb is just closed. … I immediately thought of this play I loved ‘The Lion in the Winter.’ … Cookie Leon was inspired by Equitain Eleanor.

He will never forget Daniels’ response to his pitch.

“I gave him the idea of ​​doing‘ King Lear ’in the hip-hop realm,” Strong said. “They liked it and said, ‘Why don’t we make it a TV show instead of a movie?’ I said, ‘Yes, it’s like a’ Black Dynasty. ‘

Most recently, he added “Mockingjay”, a two-part finale of “The Hunger Games.”

“They decided to turn the last book into two films … ‘Twilight’ did it, ‘Harry Potter’ did it,” Strong said. “He was in search of a writer and reached 10 writers. … I appreciated being one of the writers. … I read the book, thought how I would do two movies, and came up with a thematic thrillline. “

Of course, the heroes don’t just come with a Katniss bow and an arrow. Sometimes they come with a lawyer’s briefcase to take out pharmaceutical companies like “dopecic.”

“I see the show as a trial that Purdue Pharma never gets … so their crimes can be recorded in mainstream entertainment,” Strong said. “It offers a way forward to stigmatize medical-assisted treatment that is effective in treating opioid abuse.

‘Dopeic’ preview with Jason Fraley Danny Strong (part 2)

Listen to Danny Strong and Peter Sarsgaard on today’s “Beyond the Fame” podcast.

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