Taylor Kitsch, now starring opposite Chris Pratt in Amazon’s The Terminal List, next toplines a streaming series about the origins of the opioid crisis. While the premise sounds familiar to Hulu’s Emmy-nominated Dopesick, that doesn’t trouble the 41-year-old actor.
“We’re fucking pumped about it and not nervous after Dopesick, not at all,” Kitsch told The Hollywood Reporter at The Terminal List premiere. “We’re a very different show and when you’ve got Pete Berg at the helm, you know we’re not fucking around.”
In the Netflix series, Kitsch reteams with frequent collaborator Berg (with whom he worked on Friday Night Lights, Battleship and Lone Survivor) to play an addict. The series, which does not yet have a release date, is based in part on Patrick Radden Keefe’s New Yorker article titled “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain.” Kitsch stars opposite Uzo Aduba, Matthew Broderick, West Duchovny, Carolina Bartczak and Jack Mulhern.
“Addiction, man. It’s a conversation I’m excited to have because it’s affected me on a level with people that I know,” he explains. (Kitsch opened up to Esquire about his close friend’s battle with addiction and how he helped the friend seek treatment through the ups and downs of the disease.) “It’s probably the work that I’m most proud of. Exploring the truth that comes from [addiction] and the way we did it and how we shot it. It’s very blunt and the storytelling is fucking visceral. I can’t wait.”
Hollywood can’t either. In addition to Dopesick and Painkiller, it was recently reported that Hilary Swank, Jack Reynor and Olivia Cooke wrapped the opioid-themed thriller Mother’s Milk. That film, from director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, centers on a journalist who forms an alliance with her late son’s pregnant girlfriend to track down those responsible for his murder only to uncover a world of drugs and corruption in upstate New York. The new projects come amid news out of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that overdose deaths in the U.S. are on the rise, up 15 percent in 2021 from 2020 data. Per the figures, overdose deaths involving opioids increased from an estimated 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.
Back to Kitsch. The veteran star, who has carried a fair share of films, seems stoked about returning to his roots on the small screen. “I do love the slower burn,” he says, pointing out the way the plot unfolds in The Terminal List. “Especially for this kind of show where we can lead and mislead [the viewer] throughout and do so on a slower rollout. I love that as an actor. You have more time to breathe.”
A version of this story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.