‘Dr. Death’ – A sociopath or a bad doctor?

Peacock series explores notorious true case

AnnaSophia Robb

Many an actor talks about the power of the costume, how the simple act of donning an article of clothing can help them get into a character.

For AnnaSophia Robb, who plays prosecutor Michelle Shughart in the Peacock limited true-crime series “Dr. Death,” it was the power suits that did it.

“It was great,” the actress says. “I mean, I’d never really worn like little suits before so I have all these suits and briefcases and I sort of have my power suits, so it felt very empowering. You know, she’s excellent at her job … and I think putting that confidence on while walking into a room with Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater and being like, ‘No, I’m going to be really great at my job and I’m gonna tell these guys what’s going on,’ is an empowering act in itself.”

The drama series, which currently streams its eight episodes, is based on Wondery’s hit podcast and follows the story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson, “The Affair”), a rising star in the Dallas neurosurgery scene with a flourishing practice until things started to change. His patients would come out of complicated but routine spinal surgeries paralyzed, in great pain or dead.

As the victim count grows, fellow physicians Dr. Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”) and Dr. Randall Kirby (Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”) set out to stop him with the help of Dallas assistant district attorney Shughart (Robb), and try to determine if he is the sociopath he appears to be or just an inept surgeon.

For the role, Robb talked with Shughart and came away impressed by her kindness, her desire to do the right thing and her determination to find, as Robb says, “the appropriate repercussion for someone who has committed a crime.”

“In Dr. Duntch’s case, she felt that he gave his patients a life sentence by either paralyzing them or giving them pain for the rest of their life or killing a few of them,” she says, “and so she went for the highest sentencing. And he’s the only doctor who’s been convicted for something he did in the operating room. He used his hands as a deadly weapon, basically.”

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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