LOS ANGELES, October 10 – Before becoming Batman, Michael Keaton made his dramatic film debut in Clean and sober, an unwavering look at drug addiction during the US cocaine craze of the 1980s.
Three decades later, he’s ready to tackle a similar theme.
Before next year’s superhero movie Flash – in which Keaton plays an older version of Batman – he plays in Sick, a television series about the most recent drug epidemic in the United States: the opioid crisis.
“I tend not to want to see anything again,” Keaton said. “But it’s societal and has a much bigger canvas or a bigger story to tell.”
“It highlights white collar America and its guilt,” he told a Television Critics Association panel.
The series, which airs on Hulu from October 13, is based on Beth Macey’s non-fiction book Dopesick: the drug dealers, doctors and the drug company addicted to America.
He explores how Purdue Pharma aggressively pushed OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription pain reliever blamed for the opioid crisis in the country that has caused half a million overdose deaths in the United States since 1999.
Last year, Purdue executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including defrauding federal health agencies by downplaying the addictive nature of the drug and paying illegal bribes to doctors.
Macey, a Virginia-based reporter, mapped the lost lives of ordinary victims, including high school football stars and middle-class moms, in the Appalachian region of the eastern United States considered the epicenter of the epidemic.
Unlike the early decades of the “war on drugs”, which focused on locking up drug addicts – including crack addicts, often from urban and minority communities – “70% of all overdoses occurred in the year last were opioids, ”said co-star Rosario Dawson.
“It affects people across the country – across the world.”
In the television series, Keaton plays a doctor in a small mining town and Dawson a government narcotics agent, each of whom begins to discover the scale of the emerging crisis.
The two are amalgamations of several real people interviewed by Macey.
Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) also plays the role of a minor who injures her back and is prescribed OxyContin.
She “is absolutely unprepared for what’s going to happen in her life, and ends up in pain and going into a total rabbit hole, and has no control over it,” Dever said.
It was a common fate for thousands of Americans, who were prescribed incredibly potent opioids for often relatively minor injuries, by doctors receiving bonuses from big drug companies such as Purdue.
Once their doctors finally cut their prescriptions and the pills were altered to make them harder to abuse, many turned to buying street heroin just to avoid the horrific withdrawal effects known as name of “bad dope”.
Ordinary drug addicts have become drug mules, forced to make perilous journeys to bring drugs back from cities to their rural communities, and paid for by heroin traffickers who have only exacerbated their struggles.
“If you really look at the exponential damage often done by white collar crime to some kids – I’ll say downtown, but it could be a kid in the country selling a sack of weed for can. -be helping to pay the rent. .how do you compare the two? Keaton said.
The 70-year-old actor was born and raised in Pennsylvania, in the heart of a region where the crisis “has infiltrated all social classes.”
For series creator Danny Strong, the inspiration for making the show was to “put this out in a kind of big mainstream way.”
“I couldn’t believe what this company did, and how they were able to keep doing it over and over again for years to come, no matter what was going on, no matter how they were exposed,” he said. declared.
“Lying, manipulation, influence peddling. It’s such a shocking story … I couldn’t get it out of my head. – AFP