Tom Holland scored Oscar buzz during the 2012-2013 awards season for his supporting performance in “The Impossible,” and now he’s back on Oscar pundits’ radar with his upcoming drama “Cherry.” Based on the 2018 novel by Nico Walker, the film reunites Holland with his Marvel Cinematic Universe directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who are diving into a hard-hitting character study after the record-breaking success of “Avengers: Endgame.” Vanity Fair has the official first look at “Cherry,” including new stills of Holland and his co-star Ciara Bravo.
“We do think about it as an epic film, and it is very much a person’s life journey,” Anthony Russo told the magazine. “But it does have a little bit of a split personality between being this character study and an epic life cycle.”
“Cherry” stars Holland as a U.S. Army medic who returns home to the suburbs of Ohio and develops an opioid addiction while struggling with PTSD. Bravo stars as Holland’s character’s wife, who also becomes an addict. The young couple begin robbing banks into to fund their drug habit. The supporting cast includes Bill Skarsgård, Jack Reynor, and Forrest Goodluck.
“The movie’s broken up into six chapters that reflect those different periods, and each one has a different tone,” Joe Russo told Vanity Fair. “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.”
“Cherry” taps into a personal side of the Russo brothers, who told Vanity Fair they have witnessed the opioid crisis in American up close and personal. As the brothers shared, “We have a lot of people in our family that have either passed on or died from the crisis, or are struggling with their current addiction.”
“This is a movie that’s supposed to define the experience of having PTSD, the experience of being addicted to opioids,” Joe Russo 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.”
For Holland, “Cherry” provides the opportunity to leave Marvel behind for a bit and tap into the depths of his dramatic acting chops. Anthony Russo said he was “surprised to see how thoroughly committed [Holland] was to every facet of the character,” and 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.”
Apple will open “Cherry” in theaters on February 26 ahead of a streaming on Apple TV+ starting on March 12. Check out a first look photo from the drama below, and head over to Vanity Fair’s website for more exclusive images.