Silkwood is a 1983 American biographical drama film directed by Mike Nichols, and starring Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, and Cher. The screenplay by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen was adapted from the book Who Killed Karen Silkwood? by Rolling Stone writer and activist Howard Kohn which detailed the life of Karen Silkwood, a nuclear whistle-blower and a labor union activist who investigated alleged wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant where she worked. In real life, her inconclusive death in a car crash gave rise to a 1979 lawsuit, Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee, led by attorney Gerry Spence. The jury rendered its verdict of $10 million in damages to be paid to the Silkwood estate (her children), the largest amount in damages ever awarded for that kind of case at the time. The Silkwood estate eventually settled for $1.3 million.
Karen Silkwood, a worker at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site (near Crescent, Oklahoma), shares a ramshackle house with two co-workers, her boyfriend Drew Stephens and her lesbian friend Dolly Pelliker. She makes MOX fuel rods for nuclear reactors, where she deals with the threat of exposure to radiation. She has become a union activist, concerned that corporate practices may adversely affect the health of workers. She is also engaged in a conflict with her former common-law husband in an effort to have more time with their three children.