‘Dopesick’: Emmy Nominee Danny Strong On How Hulu Series Is A True Crime Story & Whether He’ll Stick With Genre

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The Hulu limited series Dopesick earned a whopping 14 Emmy nominations on Tuesday, including a first-ever directing nod for creator Danny Strong for helming the finale. Here, the two-time Emmy-winning creator behind HBO’s hit movies Game Change and Recount talks about the impact his limited series had on viewers, and what he hopes to next accomplish.

DEADLINE: True stories are obviously your sweet spot. Do you plan to stick with this genre?

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DANNY STRONG: I do love it. It’s one of my favorites to work in and one of my favorites as an audience member. But I have such a high bar for doing them, right. I won’t just do a true story because it’s compelling. It has to be a really terrific piece, as well. So I’m constantly looking at true stories. It’s tough to find ones that are worthy of two years of your life. So I’ll be working in all sorts of different genres moving forward, like I have been. I’d be happy to do a true crime piece if I thought it was a really terrific story worth telling. And in many ways, Dopesick is a true crime story. I mean the Sackler portion of it, the Purdue pharma portion is executed in many ways like a crime story. You’ve got investigators uncovering clues to show a crime happening.

DEADLINE: The limited series ended up both entertaining people and educating them, right? 

DANNY STRONG: First and foremost, my, my primary goal in anything I do is that is whether it can work as a great piece of entertainment. Number two, which is usually right next to number one is, does this have something to say that’s worth being told? This story nailed number one and number two in such a huge way. I felt like the story had to be told so that people would know what Purdue pharma did to the country. I also wanted people to hopefully come away from watching a show like this with a new understanding of addiction, the way that I came away with a new understanding of addiction when I started researching it. I was as guilty as anyone of having the same prejudices about addiction. Through the research, it made me see addiction in a completely different way that blew my mind. I thought, wow, I need to share what I’ve learned with other people.

DEADLINE: Do you recall any anecdotal moments of how the limited series truly reached people, or maybe influenced policy? 

DANNY STRONG: There’s been so many incredible emails that I’ve gotten, particularly emails like, ‘this show made me reach out to my son because I just thought he was a loser and I didn’t understand what he was going through.’ I’ve been hearing that over and over, how its connecting family members with people who have grown enraged or disillusioned with family members who have been lost in the cycle of addiction, not understanding what they’re actually going through and why they are trapped. There was a huge moment for me when Congressman Tim Ryan gave a speech on the Congressional floor with a Dopesick poster. proclaiming that, after watching this show, they’ve gotta go after the Sacklers. He used the show as a tool on the Congressional floor to raise awareness of opioid issues and the crimes of Purdue pharma, which was micromanaged by the Sackler family. It was pretty incredible.

DEADLINE: So what’s next for you? 

DANNY STRONG: I’m working on something internally for my friends at 20th. It’s sort of tangential of the world of Dopesick. I’m not trying to be coy. It’s just if it doesn’t get made, I don’t wanna look like an idiot talking about a project that didn’t get made, which has happened to me before!

Here are all the nominations for Dopesick:

OUTSTANDING CASTING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING SINGLE-CAMERA PICTURE EDITING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE OUTSTANDING SINGLE-CAMERA PICTURE EDITING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE OUTSTANDING LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES
OUTSTANDING SOUND MIXING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES OR MOVIE

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