Peter Sarsgaard has played real people in the past. The list includes journalist Chuck Lane in 2003 Broken glass and Robert Kennedy in 2016 Jackie. Despite this, Sarsgaard is always aware of the awkwardness of portraying non-fiction characters.
The actor again avoids his comfort zone in Hulu .’s limited series Dopessick, in which he plays former AUSA Rick Mountcastle. Just like the real-life Mountcastle did, his character spends years building a case against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, along with his fellow assistant US attorney Randy Ramseyer (Castle Rock‘s John Hoogenakker).
In Episode 6, which premieres this Wednesday, Mountcastle and Ramseyer go after Purdue’s deceptive medical marketing cards.
“It’s weird to play with real people,” Sarsgaard admits to TVLine. “Charles ‘Chuck’ Lane actually liked coming to the set and sometimes looking at me. I’d say, ‘Chuck. Come on, brother. I can’t handle this.’ It’s always very strange, which is why I didn’t communicate with the real Rick Mountcastle before doing this.”
Sarsgaard relied instead on his own research.
“Everything I learned about Rick Mountcastle came from the script and the book [by Beth Macy]Sarsgaard says. “That’s all I really needed, because I’m a sensitive person. I wouldn’t feel good if someone played me. I try to act like it’s not happening on some level, and I just go with my gut. That is ultimately all you have.”
guards‘s Jake McDorman, who poses as US Attorney John Brownlee, agrees with Sarsgaard. He didn’t speak to Brownlee until after filming was completed, he says, and counted on guidance from… Dopessick showrunner and writer Danny Strong in the meantime.
Unlike his costars, Hoogenakker spoke to Ramseyer while shooting — and says it helped define his performance.
“[Ramseyer and I] We had a good one-hour conversation,” Hoogenakker recalls. “But part of it was because I was just fascinated with talking to the guy. I knew we were going to take a deep dive into his world, 14 years of his life. Their office is still going after a pharmaceutical crime. There was more he could not then say him could, but it was nice to talk to him.”
What do you think of the performances by Sarsgaard, Hoogenakker and McDorman in Dopessick until now? Put your thoughts in the comments.