Painkiller is a riveting drama by Netflix based upon Patrick Radden Keefe’s book and New Yorker Magazine Article “Empire of Pain” and a book by Barry Meier called “Painkiller”. It is a fictionalized account based upon real facts of the people that are responsible for the sprawling opioid addiction epidemic that took by storm the Appalachian region in the US in the mid-1990s all the way up to the present time.
With amazing performances by Uzo Aduba, Matthew Broderick, Taylor Kitsch, and West Duchovny, the series takes a three-pronged approach: Purdue Pharma’s executives and sale force, the government regulators that took the ostrich-burying-its-head-in-the sand approach, and the victims of the abuse.
Produced by experts on the matter like Alex Gibney, who did documentaries for HBO based on this social issue, the series is both a thriller and a tear-jerker. And today, we’re going to share with you details on where the cast and crew went to make this drama possible.
Painkiller Filming Locations
Painkiller was filmed between Canada and the United States. The main photography for this Netflix limited series took place in August 2021 and concluded in late October of that year. Cities like Toronto and New York City were the places where the cast and crew shot most of the scenes. And let’s take a deeper look as we travel there today.
New York City, New York, USA
In the words of Jay Z in “Empire State of Mind”: “MDMA got you feelin’ like a champion, the city never sleeps better slip you an Ambien”, instead that for Painkiller, you gotta substitute ecstasy and sleeping pills for OxyContin. That’s right; the Big Apple was one of the locations chosen by the cast and crew to bring to life this show.
Painkiller’s scenes of those urban settings full of poverty, lines of people at the pill mills, and the streets and neighborhoods that seem run down and downtrodden by crime and drug abuse were shot in several of the five boroughs that make up this metropolis, one of the world’s financial centers that house iconic landmarks like the Wall Street NY Stock Exchange, the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and many more.
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The bulk of the footage seen on Painkiller was shot in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. That city offers lots of tax exemptions and incentives for filmmakers to come to town and do their work there because it fosters the economy: Attracts jobs and development.
By choosing Toronto, we see some iconic streets like Carlton and Sherbourne streets that make us think that we’re in somewhere in West Virginia, USA, but in fact, thanks to the magic of movies, we’re actually in Toronto. Moreover, Toronto is a bustling city full of vibrant culture, landmarks, and nightlife that if you ever feel like visiting, you won’t feel disappointed at all because there’s always something to see.
Furthermore, Toronto is a bit of a powerhouse when it comes to creating films and series, as that city is home to some big studios like Cinespace, TriBro, and Pinewood Toronto Studios. It’s in this big Canadian city that other productions like Netflix’s “Queen’s Gambit” or “Molly’s Game”, starring Jessica Chastain, were shot.
Painkiller is a riveting tear-jerking thriller true crime drama that tells a true story in ways that make your jaw drop. The opioid epidemic has regrettably taken thousands of lives all over the United States, created an unprecedented crime wave and became a burden for the healthcare system, and destroyed families. Much like other productions like Hulu’s “Dopesick” Mariana Van Zeller’s “OxyContin Express” or Alex Gibney’s “Crime of the Century,” gives an account of a pressing social issue.
And thanks to the magic of cinematography, the talent of the actors, the cameras, directors, and editors, we see a story that takes place in the Appalachians but in fact, was shot between Canada’s metropolis and New York City.
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