When viewers watch Hulu’s Dopesick, many questions arise about where the miniseries was filmed. Many scenes play out in the Appalachian town of Finch Creek, Virginia, but is that a real town? Where is the sprawling Sackler mansion, and where did the Dopesick cast film those scenes?
Is ‘Dopesick’ accurate?
The Hulu drama, Dopesick was created by Danny Strong, based on the non-fiction book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy. Although the miniseries is a drama with some fictional characters, the opioid crisis it details is a true story. The Sackler family did market and push OxyContin in the late 1990s with the help of lax regulations. Michael Stuhlbarg portrays the real-life Richard Sackler and the ways his family company, Purdue Pharma, began the opioid crisis.
According to Macy, the scenes with Purdue executives are not word-for-word; however, they accurately portray the techniques used to market OxyContin. She informed The New York Times that the scenes created in the drama are based on extensive research. In November 2020, Purdue Pharma pled guilty to three felonies related to marketing and distributing OxyContin.
Where was ‘Dopesick’ filmed?
Dopesick filmed from December 2020 through May 2021 in Richmond and Clifton Forge, Virginia, according to a Film Virginia casting call. Clifton Forge became the fictional town of Finch Creek, Virginia. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts also became the setting for the Sackler family’s boardroom meetings throughout the series.
The casting call aimed to fill Dopesick with extras who were authentic. They wanted real-life coal miners to make up the Dopesick cast who worked with Betsy Mallum (Kaitlyn Dever). The other extras included lawyers, executives, DEA/FBI agents, sales reps, doctors, and even Bluegrass Musicians and Clog dancers.
“We fell in love with Virginia,” creator and executive producer Danny Strong told the Richmond Times. “We chose it for its authenticity and the diversity of locations throughout the state.”
The real-life Sacklers hand-picked rural coal mining communities in Virginia as the starting point for OxyContin sales and prescriptions.
The producers chose the Estate at River Run in Goochland County, Virginia, to serve as Richard Sackler’s (portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg) sprawling mansion. Strong wanted to keep the story’s roots as accurate as possible, and that included the setting.
Is Dr. Samuel Finnix a real person?
The Sacklers portrayed in Dopesick are meant to accurately represent Richard Sackler, his father, Raymond Sackler, and his wife, Beth Sackler. However, Dopesick’s Dr. Samuel Finnix (Michael Keaton) is not a real-life character. Instead, his character, along with many others in the miniseries, is a blend of numerous real-life people. When Dopesick filmed in the fictional town of Finch Creek, Finnix is led to believe that OxyContin is a “miracle drug” that is only addictive in less than one percent of those who take it. However, he finds out firsthand that something is amiss with that label. The series’ creators spoke to a real-life doctor who prescribed the medication and became addicted to it. However, facets of his character come from other OxyContin patients as well.