Last night, “Dopesick” actor Michael Keaton dedicated his SAG Award for lead actor to his late nephew, Michael, who died battling drug addiction.
In “Dopesick,” Keaton plays Dr. Samuel Finnix, a small-town doctor who falls victim to deceptive advertising tactics from a pharmaceutical company. The series as a whole covers the growing opioid crisis in America, and how difficult it is to struggle with addiction.
Michael Keaton’s performance in the show more than earned him the SAG award. But his acceptance speech quickly turned emotional as he detailed what taking on this role meant to him.
“I’m so blessed to do what I do and so fortunate. I have a job where I can be part of a production like ‘Dopesick,’ that actually can spawn thought, conversation, actual change,” Michael Keaton said in his acceptance speech.
“There’s massive inequity in the world. I’m blessed to be able to do something that might change someone’s life,” he continued.
Keaton went on to discuss how he’s fortunate in his industry, especially when other actors aren’t so lucky. He specifically brought up Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, saying, “We have a fellow actor in Zelensky who deserves some credit tonight for fighting the fight.”
But Michael Keaton had to pause at the end of his speech, fighting back tears. Sentence by sentence, he explained who his thanks and love and support really go out to.
“Given the subject matter [of ‘Dopesick’], this is for my nephew Michael,” Keaton said while crying. “And my sister Pam. I lost Michael to drugs, and it hurts.”
He ended the speech there to applause from the audience. You can see the full speech in the video below.
‘Dopesick’ Actor Michael Keaton Explains Why He Took on Role
“Dopesick” creators knew they wanted to cast a “star” as Dr. Samuel Finnix. Creator Danny Strong told The Washington Post how if someone was gonna say no, they might as well get the first no from Michael Keaton.
But Keaton said yes to the project. He found the story compelling, especially since it’s based on real events. As Dr. Finnix, he worked to show how this pharmaceutical company duped honest, well-intentioned doctors into prescribing these opioids. Finnix even became addicted himself, throughout the show.
Michael Keaton told the Post that he likes taking on roles that explore a quality he hasn’t portrayed before. In this case, Keaton and Strong described Finnix as a “mensch of mensches” (a mensch is a person of integrity and honor).
“Who wouldn’t want that challenge?” Keaton told the outlet. “If I’m a little frightened, that’s usually a good thing.”
Keaton didn’t explain what, exactly, frightened him about the role. But it’s possible that it had to do with exploring the world that stole his nephew from him.