"Any time you get the opportunity to bring awareness to something that really matters, that's a good thing."

As a self-proclaimed "news junkie," Michael Keaton knew what he was getting into with Dopesick. The eight-episode Hulu series tracks the beginning of the opioid epidemic in America, specifically following Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, the members of which invented OxyContin. Keaton plays Samuel Finnix, a small-town Virginia doctor who's introduced to the drug as a revolutionary way to help his patients deal with pain.

"This was really about something," Michael Keaton says of why he was drawn to Dopesick. "And any time you get the opportunity to bring awareness to something that really matters, that's a good thing."

But the important subject matter wasn't the only reason Keaton returned to TV. "The writing was really, really good," he says. "And I had read a lot of things. There's so much good stuff on television it's kind of ridiculous. It's not like people haven't offered me things before. There was just nothing I really wanted to do or I was too busy. This one was just better than most."

Michael Keaton on 'Dopesick'
| Credit: Gene Page/Hulu

Keaton adds that working with both creator Danny Strong and director Barry Levinson helped sweeten the deal — music to Strong's ears.

"He was our first offer," says Strong. "We offered the role of Finnix to Michael, and he said yes, and I was blown away, because he hadn't done television for, I don't know, a decade? That was a huge moment in the life of the show."

Strong continues, "I find him staggering, this beautiful guy. Finnix is still in pain over the death of his wife — he hasn't gotten over it yet. Who knows if he ever will? And just the layers Michael brought to that, I was blown away by him."

Keaton puts it simply: "The timing was right and the quality of the project was real good. So why not?"

Dopesick premieres Oct. 13 on Hulu.

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