Sarandon and Goodman Bring Kevorkian Biopic to Life


It seems fitting that after spending all night writing a massive article, I joked that I would feel like killing myself if I had to read any news. Fortunately, Our Old Friend Fate had a particularly awesome news story in store for me which actually lifted my spirits.

According to /film, Susan Sarandon and John Goodman (Big Dan, tout court!) have signed on for the Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack that’s being filmed by HBO. Goodman is filling the role of Neal Nicol – a friend and supporter of Kevorkian’s, while Sarandon will play Janet Good, a major advocate for legalizing euthanasia who would have Kevorkian help her end her life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I haven’t really followed this production all that closely, even after learning that Al Pacino was cast as Kevorkian (or maybe because I learned that Pacino was cast as Kevorkian), but this definitely brings new life to the project for me. Sarandon and Goodman are both fantastic actors. Obviously, there’s a lot to mine in the man’s history for moving material. I grew up in the shadow of the Kevorkian story and remember when he mailed in a tape of himself helping someone die to “60 Minutes.” I also remember watching news stories about his progress in prison as he served a sentence for second degree murder. What I don’t remember is a true national debate about the merits of euthanasia and whether or not someone had the right to die.

According to several sources, the story will focus mostly on Kevorkian’s construction of the Mercy Machine (which sounds really fucking ominous, right?) and his tribulations trying to bring the issue to the national spotlight. However, I’m hoping there is more to the plot, because Kevorkian had a fairly interesting life outside of what he’s famous for. He was an accomplished jazz musician and an oil painter. He also ran for Congress after being released from prison. He’s also still totally alive.

The film is being directed by Barry Levinson. You know, the guy who brought us Rain Man.

What do you think?

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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