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Joshua Jackson Plays Sadistic Surgeon In Peacock's ‘Dr. Death,’ Based On A True Story

Joshua Jackson plays Christopher Duntsch, who is currently behind bars for maiming dozens of patients, in an upcoming series about the infamous spinal surgeon. 

By Gina Tron
Dr Death Joshua Jackson

Joshua Jackson will be depicting a real-life psychopathic surgeon in an upcoming Peacock miniseries this summer.

Jackson, of “The Affair” and “Dawson’s Creek” fame, plays a confident yet sadistic neurosurgeon who brags about never making a mistake in a trailer for “Dr. Death,” which dropped on Monday. The character is based on real-life Dallas neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, who became known as “Dr. Death” after his botched surgeries resulted in at least two deaths and 30 paralyzations.

“Young, charismatic and ostensibly brilliant, Dr. Duntsch was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed,” the tagline for the upcoming series explains. “Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead.”

In the show, fellow physicians seek to end his reign of pain. Neurosurgeon Robert Henderson, played by Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock" fame, and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby, played by “Mr. Robot” star Christian Slater, in addition to Dallas prosecutor Michelle Shughart, played by AnnaSophia Robb of “Little Fires Everywhere”, are based on real individuals as well. Their horror at Duntsch's actions is captured in the trailer.

Following a 2012 surgery in which Kirby assisted Duntcsh, the doctor wrote a letter to the Texas Medical Board, referring to Duntsch's skills as “pathetic” and likening them to a first-year medical student, according to a 2013 Texas Observer report.

The series is an adaptation of Wondery’s true crime podcast “Dr. Death". Oxygen dedicated a 2019 episode of “License to Kill” to the case, entitled “Deadly God Complex.”

Duntsch was sentenced to life behind bars in 2017 after a jury found him guilty of injury to an elderly person. While he was originally  indicted on six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon— the indictment listed “hands and surgical tools” as his deadly weapons, according to court documents    prosecutors chose to focus on victim Mary Efurd, since the injuries to her were felonious and carried the harshest penalties, according to a 2017 Washington Post report.

“'Dr. Death" explores the twisted mind of Dr. Duntsch and the failures of the system designed to protect the most defenseless among us,” Peacock states.