Netflix's New True-Crime Documentary
Wormwood follows the life of Eric Olson, an eloquent and edgy man in his early 70s. He is haunted by the death of his father, biochemist Frank Olson (Sarsgaard), who committed suicide by jumping out of a 13th-floor window.
Eric's gut feeling tells him that his dad may have been pushed by one of his enemies. Frank may have also been forced to jump out of the Statler Hotel during his trip to New York on Nov. 28, 1953. He died at the age of 42.
When Frank died, Eric (Jack Michael Doke) was only 9 years old. Wormwood features a flashback from the time of Frank's death. It also includes footages of Eric today.
Frank Olson Death Theories
In real life, Frank was ready to expose the government secrets before he died, and this could have been a huge motivation for someone to want to get rid of him.
Some of the biggest suspects in his death included the C.I.A. and President Gerald Ford's chief and deputy chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney respectively.
Frank was also a C.I.A. operative and bacteriologist. He may have taken part in secret government L.S.D. experiments. There were also speculations that he may have been the subject of mind control.
In 1974, a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh was released and it claimed that Frank was indeed given L.S.D.
In the series, real-life Eric said he doesn't know exactly what the panel's findings were and what their goal was for releasing the story.
"Most likely the ultimate goal is to save the C.I.A. from itself. You could argue that it's a kind of cover-up... and that's when our story starts all over again," said Eric.
Peter Sarsgaard Plays As Eric Olson
Meanwhile, Morris described Wormwood as a series of Russian nesting dolls.
"Stories inside stories, inside stories, inside stories," said Morris.
The director also revealed that Sarsgaard was his only choice to play the role of Eric in the Netflix documentary.
"He jokes how I told him that what I liked most about his performances were his silences, and that is more or less true," Morris added.
Netflix released Wormwood as a 6-part miniseries of four and a half hours each. It was originally screened in its entirety at the Telluride Film Festival last year.