Jeremy Renner To Play Journalist David Armstrong, Who Exposed The Sackler Family Opioid Scandal

Hawkeye has a new target: the opioid crisis. Jeremy Renner will appear in an upcoming film as David Armstrong, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who was instrumental in uncovering the involvement of billionaire pharmaceutical chief Richard Sackler and his family in the U.S. opioid epidemic. The as-yet-untitled movie has been in the works since at least early 2020, when 101 Studios committed to financing and distributing it.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Renner will play Armstrong in the film, which hails from Oscar-nominated producer Julie Yorn ("Unstoppable," "Hell or High Water"). Yorn is currently shopping it around to other potential partners at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie will be written and directed by the spousal duo of Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, whose most recent project was the Kristen Bell comedy caper "Queenpins."

In addition to his turn as the titular Avenger in "Hawkeye" on Disney+, Renner is coming off "Mayor of Kingstown," which has been renewed for a second season on the Paramount+ streaming platform. As Armstrong, Renner will be playing the real-life investigative journalist who, in articles for ProPublica, helped bring to light the culpability of the Sackler family in covering up the addictiveness of the prescription painkiller Oxycontin, which itself has been linked to the deaths of over 200,000 Americans by overdose. Gaudet and Pullapilly previously told The Wrap:

"We are thrilled to be working with David Armstrong and 101 Studios to tell this vital story. We believe the opioid crisis is the defining social issue of this generation. And, every family affected by OxyContin addiction deserves to know the truth behind the Sacklers' role in it."

The opioid crisis on film

This project with Renner as Armstrong is merely the latest in a growing number of movies and TV shows dealing with the opioid crisis. The Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma were already the subject of the two-part HBO documentary, "The Crime of the Century," directed by Alex Gibney. Later in the year, Michael Stuhlbarg played a dramatized version of Richard Sackler in the Michael Keaton-led Hulu miniseries, "Dopesick."

At Cannes, Netflix also just bought another pharmaceutical conspiracy thriller called "Pain Hustlers," which will star Emily Blunt (who, once upon a time, was set to play Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before Scarlett Johansson took over the role opposite Renner, Robert Downey Jr., and company). The log line for "Pain Hustlers" bills it as a story about a woman who "lands a job with a failing pharmaceutical start-up in a yellowing strip mall in Central Florida. Liza's charm, guts and drive catapult the company and her into the high life, where she soon finds herself at the center of a criminal conspiracy with deadly consequences."

101 Studios head David Glasser told The Wrap that Gaudet and Pullapilly's film will be "not just another story of America's opioid crisis, but an insider's look at how investigative journalism can play an integral role in helping to uncover the truth." We'll keep you updated on the status of this in-development Renner vehicle as it lands a title and release date.