Out in theatres on February 26th and on Apple TV+ March 12th, The Russo Brothers’ latest movie Cherry is based on Nico Walker’s semi-autobiographical bestselling novel.
The movie follows the story of a young man, Cherry (Tom Holland) whose heart is broken by the love of his life, Emily (Ciara Bravo). Cherry decides to join the army where he becomes a medic. Back from Iraq, the young soldier suffers from PTSD, becomes a drug addict, and starts robbing banks.
I talked to the amazing Ciara Bravo about the making of Cherry. The 23 years old actress explained the development of Emily, how she avoided bringing her dark character home with her, her teamwork and healthy competition with Tom Holland, and working with The Russo Brothers.
CIARA BRAVO Your hair is amazing! It’s incredible!
[Laughing] That’s so sweet! Thank you so much! So is yours [laughing]
Hi Ciara! Congratulations on Cherry!
CIARA BRAVO [laughing] Hi!
Cherry was incredible, you guys were amazing and people are so excited to see this movie now, it’s basically what everyone’s talking about online.
CIARA BRAVO [laughing] I’m so excited for everyone to see it.
How do you feel, what’s on your mind only a few days away from the big day?
CIARA BRAVO I know, I’m quite nervous, I’m looking forward to hearing everybody’s thoughts and opinions on it, so far it’s only been close friends and family, I’m just excited to see what the rest of the world feels. It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking when a project is so close to your heart and then everyone else gets to be a part of it too. But it’s also such a thrill!
People are gonna love it, that’s for sure! What made you say yes to this script when you first read it?
CIARA BRAVO First and foremost seeing the names attached to it, I was just really excited to get the opportunity to work with such a talented group of people, especially on a project that’s so special to them. And then of course reading the script, I was completely blown away! I have never seen a script balance ton so well before, you know it handles all these really dark, heavy topics, but still gives you permission to laugh. It really, really impressed me and I knew about 10 pages in that I wanted to be a part of this movie in any way shape, or form that they would let me. I was just consistently so honored and [laughing] confused that they would let me bring the role of Emily to life.
It really is so well put together, all the different chapters, everything is just really well made!
CIARA BRAVO The Brothers had such a strong vision for what they wanted this project to be. That was clear from the beginning. Sitting down and speaking with them was like, you know, I feel like I didn’t have quite the imagination to picture what it was going to be, especially while we were filming, because all the shits were so fluid and artistic, it was almost like, you know, our camera operator was just a dancer almost, with his 80 pounds camera on himself, swooping around. But yeah, it was clear from the beginning that they knew what they wanted this movie to be, I think that really shows in the final edit.
It really does. Can you talk to me about Emily a little bit, who is she? Because I feel like you’re the only one who knows her that well at this point.
CIARA BRAVO Right, she’s very close to my heart that’s for sure. I always like to preface this by saying that Emily is a fully realized person. She’s a three-dimensional human being. But in this film, we are seeing her through the eyes of Cherry, because of course, it’s Cherry’s story. We’re seeing his whole world through his eyes. But she’s his love interest in the film, we first meet her in college. These two lost sounds that recognize something within each other. Finally finding a connection that they haven’t found before in life and it becomes really special. But it’s also quite scary because she does feel vulnerable, you know it’s new and frightening when you have such strong feelings for another person. But we really get to see her journey through discovering and learning about love and herself, and then, unfortunately, falling into addiction and watching her battle with that.
So how do you prepare to become such a complex and broken character?
CIARA BRAVO I will say that the writing set me up for success. Angela and Jessica did an incredible job with that, there was no shortage of information on who Emily was and is as a character and as a person. But I always like to approach these roles almost like a puzzle. Studying the dialogues and the directions for hidden pieces that I can put together to make this full image of a person, which I think is always fun. But then of course you have to make sure that you’re protecting yourself mentally, because it can be quite tricky when you go in these dark places, to come out of that. But there is a wonderful support system on set and it was just the most incredible group of people and a wonderful atmosphere that made me feel safe going in these places.
Exactly, I was gonna ask, how do you go back to being Ciara Bravo at the end of the day?
CIARA BRAVO [laughing] Right, great question [laughing]. It definitely felt like a new skill that I had to develop, one that I hadn’t had to use before. But I learned quite early on, especially through Tom who has very strict rule about not bringing his work home with him, I was like “oh that’s smart, I need to start doing that” [laughing]. But you know The Brothers would also put together these family diners where we would all go out to eat afterwards, to sort of decompress and step out of our characters and back into ourselves. Just allow that space, to breathe, clear out minds for the next week ahead.
A very much needed little diner at the end of the day!
CIARA BRAVO [laughing] right, God knows we were all hungry.
Was that comforting, reassuring to you as an actress to know that you weren’t the only one going in this dark place. Tom was here with you, you weren’t lonely in this dark place.
CIARA BRAVO Yeah, Tom was the perfect partner in all of this. None only is he an extraordinary actor, which is more than clear in this movie, but he’s also just a really wonderful person. I knew I had so much trust in him, and I hope him in le. I knew he would be there for me when things got rough and rocky. I mean we were the only people on set, outside from all the other actors whom I also love very dearly and speak to all the time [laughing]. But we knew how far we had to go, we were in it together, we understood where the other person was, where we needed to be. We were constantly supporting each other but also pushing each other, you know? Watching someone like Tom work, I was like “Okay I need to be better” and it felt nice to have this kind of healthy competition to bring these characters in places that they needed to be.
Bringing the best out of each other, that’s the perfect relationship.
CIARA BRAVO Exactly [laughing]
What was the most challenging scene or aspect of your character to film?
CIARA BRAVO As difficult as the “Dope life” portion of the film was for us to shoot, I felt the most pressure working on the beginning of the film, because I felt like I needed to make Emily likable. And I feel like there’s so much more that goes into that, you need to care about her at the beginning so that you care about her story at the end. And I feel like it’s easier, you know, I’m so different from Emily, I’ve never been to that experience before, but I am a young woman, 23 years old, she was in her early twenties, it’s easy to see more of myself in the early Emily, so I think that left me feeling very vulnerable and quite scared. I just wanted to make sure that people liked her.
What I thought was very interesting is that we get a glance at Emily’s past, which is very important in the building of the character, she’s not just a character through Cherry’s eyes.
CIARA BRAVO Yeah it’s always nice to recognize and understand that a character existed before the narrator let them. She was a person before Cherry, during Cherry, and after Cherry. And I like that it’s not shoved in you face either. It’s layered in there very nicely.
Yeah it’s very subtle but it’s there.
CIARA BRAVO Exactly.
So what did you expect before coming on set for the first time?
CIARA BRAVO You know I never know. I like to come into every set with an open mind because it can be so défièrent depending on who’s running the ship. But I felt very lucky and the brothers are very kind and trusting creators. They’re collaborators through and through. And they like to hear different ideas and opinions. And they’re open to working through a scene and reworking a scene while shooting it, which not everyone is. So that felt really exhilarating to feel like your voice is being heard.
I think it would really surprise people to see how much we laughed while shooting this movie, but I think it’s because you have to.
That’s a good balance right?
CIARA BRAVO Right, you need that balance, otherwise the dark places that you need to go to will just completely swallow you whole. That laughter kept us afloat and allowed us to come up for a breath of air so that we could dive back under and go deeper than we did the time before. From the rest of the cast members Kyle, Michael, Forrest, everyone to the crew members, it was a very close, very family-like atmosphere. I know I had a great time shooting, I hope everyone else did too [laughing].
Since The Russo Brothers work together, they are two of them, is that complicated to manage, and you’re just jumping between their advice?
CIARA BRAVO That does happen sometimes, because they’re brothers as well, they’re incredible and they have a very great way of working, they’ve got their dynamic worked out very well, obviously, that’s how they make so many wonderful movies together [laughing]. But they are moments where you can see the sibling in them, where one will come over and give you a piece of direction and then you do it and the other will come over and be like “Don’t do that” [laughing] and it always makes me laugh. You watch them go off to a corner and work something out together and then you’re throwing Tom on top of it, who’s basically a third brother, and so it’s like watching them all interact together always puts a smile on my face. He’ll like, do something to mess with them and throw something their way and just watch them spin out and then laugh. It was a lot of fun [laughing]
CIARA BRAVO That’s exactly what it was, it was just working with 3 brothers.
What is your favorite memory from this whole experience?
CIARA BRAVO Oh Jeez, you know I think my favorite memory would have to be the weekend that we all shared together. You know as much fun as I had on set, and was proud as I am of the work that we all managed to do, the places we brought ourselves, we’re a really fun group of people! And I really enjoyed hanging out with them and I look forward to the day that we’re able to do that again safely.
That would have been great to have a red carpet, a proper premiere.
CIARA BRAVO I know, I’m bumming, I’m really bumming, because that was something I was really looking forward to, to get everyone back together again, to have another night of great food and drinks and laughs and dancing.
Hopefully, you can do it when this crazy time is over!
CIARA BRAVO Exactly my fingers are crossed that we all get vaccinated and healthy soon so that we can see each other again.
Fingers crossed! Ciara thank you so much for joining me today and congratulations again, and by the way, I love your shirt I couldn’t stop looking at it!
CIARA BRAVO [laughing] Thank you so much [laughing] thank you, it was really lovely talking to you, thank you for taking the time. Stay safe!
Cherry hits theatres on February 26th and on Apple TV+ March 12th.