Vanity Fair has given us the first look at Tom’s new movie Cherry! The movie is set to release in theaters on February 26 and then globally on Apple TV+ on March 12. Check out the stills!
VANITY FAIR – Cherry is a movie that dares you to try and describe it. It’s the first film that Anthony and Joe Russo have directed following their Avengers finales, Infinity War and Endgame, and it reunites them with Spider-Man star Tom Holland. It also compresses their penchant for large-scale action and cataclysm into the core of a single person.
Holland’s title character is both volatile and vulnerable, a hard-knock nobody from Cleveland who’s just scraping by but doesn’t even have any big dreams to guide him. Every solution to his problems only deepens the trouble: College isn’t working out, so Cherry joins the Army to serve in Iraq as a medic. He returns home haunted and damaged, and starts abusing opioids to blunt his PTSD. To pay for the drugs, he resorts to bank robbery. The more desperate he gets, the more banks he has to rob.
Every step is a step down, a progression into the abyss you can see in these images from Vanity Fair’s exclusive first look.
It’s tempting to call this film, which hits theaters first on February 26 and then premieres globally on Apple TV+ on March 12, a smaller, more intimate project from the brothers who made some of Marvel’s most grandiose films. It’s definitely a passion project for them. But Cherry is also a sprawling tale that ventures around the world, albeit locked within the mind of Holland’s sweet-natured, grimly addicted bandit.
“We do think about it as an epic film, and it is very much a person’s life journey,” said Anthony Russo. “But it does have a little bit of a split personality between being this character study and an epic life cycle.”
They described Cherry as six movies in one, spanning from the mid 2000s to the present. “He travels a great distance over a 15-year period,” Joe Russo said. “The movie’s broken up into six chapters that reflect those different periods, and each one has a different tone. It’s shot with different lenses, different production design. One’s got magical realism. Another chapter is absurdism. Another is horror…There’s a bit of gonzo in it. It’s raw in its tone. He’s a character in existential crisis.”
Based on the 2018 novel by Nico Walker, the screenplay was written by the filmmakers’ sister, Angela Russo-Otstot (V, The Shield), and Jessica Goldberg (The Path). “The book was very, very self-aware, self-deprecating, and self-loathing,” Joe said.
They felt a strong connection, even if the story doesn’t necessarily mirror their own. It’s close enough: “We’re from Cleveland and Nico’s from Cleveland. Interestingly enough, we know a lot of people that are implied in the book,” Joe added. “I think he’s fictionalized names and personalities. But I worked at the same restaurant that Nico worked at, 10 years apart. So he had a very similar upbringing to us. He just had a very different journey than we did.”
The Russos also wanted to tell a story about the people back home who are hurting. “Ohio is unfortunately at ground zero in the fight against the opioid crisis. And we’ve got a lot of people in our family that have either passed on or died from the crisis, or are struggling with their current addiction. So, this is a very, very personal movie for us.”
The one bright spot in Cherry’s life is Emily (Ciara Bravo, A Teacher), whose devotion to the love of her life may reveal her own self-destructive tendencies. While she’s the stabilizing thing he clings to, the only pure thing in his life, Cherry’s reckless actions threaten to destroy her too.
“The love story is the central spine of the film,” Anthony said. “Without that relationship in the movie, it all falls apart for him. We knew that we needed to make her presence and her character glow in the moments that we did have with her.”
“We really wanted someone that embodied that sense of innocence for him. It was a dream girl, the girl next door,” Joe said.
That’s a quality Holland also brings to the screen, from his breakthrough as a resilient kid trying to survive a tsunami in 2012’s The Impossible to his “aw, shucks” approach to Peter Parker in the Marvel films. With Cherry, the 24-year-old weaponizes that boyishness, allowing it to be battered and bruised and blasted off of him by the harshest things life can throw at a person.
The Russo brothers know this might sound like a turnoff. That’s why they wanted the role to go to Holland, whom they had successfully lobbied to get the part of Spider-Man in 2016’s Civil War.
“When Tom walked into the room…what, six years ago? He was younger, raw. His charisma just blew us away. There was an effortless charm to him,” Anthony said. “As an actor, that is very difficult to replicate. He’s just so likable. We knew for this part we were going to need someone of Tom’s charisma to keep the audience from shutting down during the darker parts of the film.”
“This is a movie that’s supposed to define the experience of having PTSD, the experience of being addicted to opioids,” Joe added. “And the mission of the film is to generate empathy, not to generate disdain, not to indict. It was critical that you empathize with his struggle and his journey because a lot of people are going through this, and they’re having a very human experience. I think empathy is in incredibly short supply right now in the world. And it’s a tragedy.”
As it traversed a decade and a half, Cherry also gave Holland a chance to show a more somber screen presence. “Tom is a nice person. He is, but he doesn’t let himself get trapped by that. He’s a seeker, he’s an artist, he’s always looking, running after complicated things in life,” Anthony said. “He’s a young actor, right? We haven’t seen him do that much up to this point. This is definitely something he’s had within him the whole time. We just haven’t been able to see it yet.
“Joe and I were surprised ourselves to see how thoroughly committed he was to every facet of that character,” he added. “The darkest, most difficult sides of that character, he really embraced them and ran at them and tried to give them life within himself in a way that not a lot of people could pull off.”