'Painkiller' on Netflix cast and characters (2024)

Netflix is shining a spotlight on one of the biggest culprits behind the opioid crisis through its latest limited series, Painkiller.

The six-episode series debuted on the streaming platform on Aug. 10 and quickly caught viewer attention. Its focus on, in particular, Purdue Pharma’s contributions to the opioid scourge is sparking widespread debate, as people revisit a conversation that’s been simmering for decades. Purdue Pharma is one of the biggest, and most insidious culprits behind the rise of opioids around the nation, and the manufacturer’s focus on OxyContin, in particular, led to a crisis, particularly in the United States. Deaths from prescription opioids have dropped slightly in recent years, as a result of better access to information and the slow downfall of Purdue Pharma.

The company’s been embroiled in legal disputes for more than a decade now, and — despite several high-dollar payouts — its still paying the price for the human cost of its pursuit of wealth. Netflix’s work to shine a light on the company, and people, behind the painkiller craze isn’t enough to ease the hurt Purdue caused — but it is reminding people of how much work is yet to be done.

The Painkiller cast

Painkiller seeks to tell a multifaceted story about the rise of the opioid epidemic and the company that’s been paying for its involvement since the 2000s. It highlights a number of important figures over the course of its 6-episode limited run, including the executives and salesmen behind OxyContin’s development.

The Sacklers

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The Sackler family is at the core of the drama that unfolds across Painkiller. The family purchased Purdue Pharma from its founders in 1952, and, in the early 90s, pivoted it to primarily focus on pain management. Soon, drugs like fentanyl, codeine, and OxyContin were the company’s bread and butter —and, within a few years, a wave of opioid-related deaths were the result of their efforts —as was their silence on the drugs’ addictive properties.

Matthew Broderick leads the Sackler squad as Richard Sackler, one of the family’s primary forces in pumping out highly addictive painkillers. Joining him as Raymond Sackler and Mortimer Sackler are Sam Anderson (as Raymond) and John Rothman (as Mortimer).

Edie Flowers

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A vital element of the Painkiller story is brought to audiences by the talented Uzo Aduba, who plays Edie Flowers, a lawyer with the US attorney’s Roanoke, VA. office. Flowers is an amalgamation of several different real-world figures, who — while not entirely fictional — were altered and dramatized into one character to help keep the story tight. She is one of the driving forces of the Painkiller plot, as she works to develop a case against Purdue Pharma and its contributions to the opioid crisis.

Dr. Gregory Fitzgibbons

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Like Flowers, Dr. Gregory Fitzgibbons isn’t entirely based on a real-life person. Instead, he is based on a collection of doctors who, following the rise of OxyContin, refused to prescribe it to their patients, despite pressure from the likes of Richard Sackler. He’s played, in Painkiller, by John Ales, who audiences will recognize from his stints on Euphoria, Star Trek: Picard, and Station 19.

The Krygers

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The drama that compounds over the course of Painkiller is very much based on real life, but the series hesitates to put OxyContin’s real-life victims in the spotlight. Instead, it creates new, fictional characters, who experience fallout based on real-world experiences. The Krygers — Glen, Lily, and Tyler — aren’t based on any specific IRL people, but their tragic experience very much is. The family is played by Taylor Kitsch, of John Carter and The Terminal List fame, who portrays Glen, alongside Carolina Bartczak’s Lily and Jack Mulhern’s Tyler.

Additional cast

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The Painkiller cast isn’t massive, but quite a few talented people came together to bring this story to life. Joining heavy hitters like Matthew Broderick are Tyler Ritter, who plays John Brownlee, Ron Lea, who brings Bill Havens to life, Ana Cruz Kayneas Brianna Ortiz, West Duchovny as Shannon Schaeffer, John Murphy, who adds Michael Friedman into the mix, and Dina Shihabi, who plays a character simply classified as “Britt.”

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'Painkiller' on Netflix cast and characters (2024)
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