‘Dopesick’ Cast: Are Sister Beth Davies and Doctor Art Van Zee Real People? Where Are They Today?

In Hulu‘s Dopesick Episode 7, creator Danny Strong introduces three new cast members; Sister Beth Davies (Meagan Fay), Dr. Art Van Zee (Raymond Dooley), and Sue Ella Van Zee (Serena Ebhardt). The Hulu drama based on Beth Macy‘s nonfiction book gives a glimpse into the fight that a Catholic nun, a doctor, and a lawyer fought together. Many viewers want to know if the three Dopesick characters are based on real people since Dr. Samuel Finnix is not. Also, why do the actors look so familiar?

'Dopesick' Episode 7 with Raymond Dooley as Dr. Art Van Zee, Meagen Fay as Sister Beth Davies and Serena Ebhardt as Sue Ella Van Zee
‘Dopesick’: Dr. Art Van Zee (Raymond Dooley), Sister Beth (Meagen Fay), and Sue Ella Van Zee (Serena Ebhardt), | Gene Page/Hulu

‘Dopesick’ Episode 7 cast: Who is Sister Beth Davies and Doctor Art Van Zee?

In Dopesick Episode 7, viewers meet Sister Beth Davies when she sits down for a therapy session with Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton). The Dopesick cast member who portrays Sister Beth Davies, Meagan Fay, looks familiar because she appeared as a guest star in many TV shows and movies. According to IMDb, you might remember Fay as Mrs. Butters in Supernatural or Austin’s grandmother in The Connors. She also played Sharon Hill in Mad Men and Mrs. Rostenkowski in The Big Bang Theory. Fay’s list of credits is long and includes Janice Aldrin in How I Met Your Mother and Gretchen Mannkusser in Malcolm in the Middle.

In the same Dopesick episode, viewers meet cast member Raymond Dooley who portrays Dr. Art Van Zee. The doctor runs a community meeting in Finch Creek, Virginia, to garner support for a petition against OxyContin. According to IMDb, Dooley isn’t well known in Hollywood like Fay. He appeared in Stonebrook in 1999, Changeover in 2016, and The Trial of Standing Bear in 1988. Dooley is the head of the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and is a drama faculty member.

‘Dopesick’ cast: Is Sister Beth Davies based on a real person?

'Dopesick' Episode 7 Michael Keaton and Meagen Fay portray Samuel Finnix and Sister Beth Davies
‘Dopesick’ Episode 7: Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton), and Sister Beth (Meagen Fay) | Gene Page/Hulu

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The character of Sister Beth Davies in Dopesick was modeled after a real-life Catholic nun from Pennington Gap, Virginia. Sister Beth is currently 88-years-old. In 2019, The New York Times reported that she still ran her inpatient addiction treatment center in Appalachia. She noted that more patients turned to heroin and fentanyl during the interview since they were cheaper but more deadly.

“It never ends, the whole cycle,” Sister Beth told the outlet. “We are still losing people to it.”

Is Dr. Art Van Zee based on a real person in ‘Dopesick’?

Yes, Dr. Art Van Zee is also a real-life person. In the late 1990s, Dr. Van Zee and Sister Beth noticed the start of numerous patients addicted to a new prescription medication, OxyContin. With his wife, Sue Ella Kobak, the doctor and nun launched a petition drive in 2001. Their goal was to convince the FDA to take OxyContin off the market. 

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In the same New York Times article, the trio explained that several Purdue Pharma executives met with them in 2001 to convince them to drop their recall petition. The FDA did not take action after the petition, so the doctor, nun, and lawyer instead decided to help their local patients differently. That’s when they began the inpatient center that Sister Beth still works at today.

An update on Sister Beth Davies in 2021 from ‘Dopesick’ author Beth Macy

Journalist and author of the 2018 book, Dopesick, Beth Macy, shared an update about Sister Beth Davies. On Sept. 25, 2021, Macy and Dopesick creator Danny Strong began a Go Fund Me page to help Sister Beth Davies’ treatment center in Virginia. 

“The donor who funded Beth’s counseling center died of cancer recently,” Macy wrote. “‘Oh, how I hate to ask,’ she emailed me. But she needs our help.”

The fundraiser began to keep lights on at the counseling center, which Sister Beth still works at today.

“But she is 88 years old; she still works too damn many hours,” Macy added. “She’s in real danger of having her lights cut off while the Sacklers’ light bill is paid for a thousand years in advance.”

The series created by Danny Strong, Dopesick, drops to Hulu weekly on Wednesdays at 12:01 EST.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.