Joe and Anthony Russo went back home for their return to directing after guiding Avengers: Endgame to the biggest box office haul in history. That’s where they found Cherry, the Apple TV+ indie drama based on the novel by their fellow Cleveland native Nico Walker.
The book was based on Walker’s own experiences and, with the film, and Spider-Man‘s Tom Holland in the lead role, tells of one man’s arc from falling in love, to his time as an Army medic in the Afghanistan war, with his return and unchecked PTSD leading to robbing banks, doing time and getting hooked on drugs.
The Russo brothers sparked to the book and the its subject matter especially regarding the opioid crisis, and its impact on their hometown. The book auction that they ultimately won via their AGBO banner in a $1 million deal was limited by Walker’s available phone minutes because the author was still serving a stretch in prison (he was sentenced to 11 years for a series of robberies in Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs but is now out).
Then it was up to screenwriter Angela Russo-Otstot, a veteran TV writer (The Shield) as well as President of Creative at AGBO and Joe and Anthony’s sister, who worked on the script alongside Jessica Goldberg (The Path). They separated the story into six distinct chapters, each shot in a different style and period feel, different ratios and looks.
That included making Cleveland front-and-center in the narrative, with the filmmakers’ connection evident; Anthony Russo said that the street where Cherry and Emily (Ciara Bravo) live is the street where he and his brother spent the first decade of their lives, even shooting in a restaurant Joe worked called La Dolce Vita, and at nearby Lake View Cemetery.
“There’s a lot of texture we’ve been living with our whole lives that found its way into the film’s storytelling,” he said.
Cherry will premiere in select theaters tomorrow and bow globally on Apple TV+ on March 12.
Read the script from Russo-Otstot and Goldberg, based on Walker’s novel, here:
Read The Screenplay Series
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