In the era of prestige TV, Bryan Cranston and Michael K. Williams have played some of the most recognizable drug dealers in pop culture. Cranston brought chemistry teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White to life on Breaking Bad, while Williams’ Omar Little sent kids scrambling any time he strolled through the streets of The Wire. On Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver recruited them both (along with Michael Keaton and Richard Kind) to give voice to a real-life drug dealer: Richard Sackler, former head of Purdue Pharma and a powerful influence on the development of the opioid crisis.
Oliver first did a segment on opioids a few years ago, but decided that now was the time to revisit the topic. Lawsuits have unearthed damning court documents about the Sackler family’s involvement in the opioid crisis, and public opinion has also begun to turn against them. New York’s Guggenheim Museum agreed to stop accepting donations from the Sacklers after protests, and the National Portrait Gallery recently called off a planned donation.
Oliver wants the Sacklers’ name to be attached to the opioid crisis the way their name is on the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National History Museum (among others). That’s why he recruited Keaton, Cranston, Williams, and Kind: To draw attention to Richard Sackler’s revealing answers in deposition. Keaton acted out Sackler saying “This is not too bad. It could’ve been far worse” about early OxyContin deaths, while Cranston portrayed his reluctance to acknowledge his business relationship with Purdue.
Watch the full clip above.