What kind of preparation have you done? I think actors who are very good actors can fall into the trap of being supposed to be high or on drugs or something, there could be some kind of flash in there, like some kind of theater. And something that I think is really compelling and invigorating Cherry is that there is none of it. It feels completely believable when these characters are at these lows of their lives. Did you talk to soldiers, addicts, anything like that while preparing to shoot?
Yes definitely. We have done a lot of research. I mean, I must have sat with 30 different people, all of them veterans, all of them medics, all of them suffering from PTSD and substance abuse. And for me, the more information I could get about a problem I knew so little about in the beginning, the better. I’ve worked with nurses. We worked with someone who ran a rehab in Cleveland, and he became our advisor and would be with us on set every day and show us how to shoot someone and show us how to cook heroin, or explain our sense of how it would be if you mixed a little crack with heroin.
There’s a scene in the movie where I’m going to rob a bank, and I shoot in the car just before that. And he said to us that day, “You would never do that until you go rob a bank.” But if you put a little crack in it, it would totally change your attitude and your physical skills, I think. So it was so valuable to have such people on set to guide us through the process.
I think I’m a little older than you, and these characters are about my age. I was in college in the early 2000s and 9/11 was my first week in college. And people in my hometown, well, my Boston neighborhood, many of them were lost to opioids, either killed or put in jail. And you are younger, but did you see parallels between this kind of removed half generation and your age, the generation Z? Do you think many of these things are still going on?
Yes. I mean, the opioid epidemic is probably worse now. And it affects many more people. I think one of my favorite things that Joe said, Joe Russo, is the opening of the movie, these shots are over Cleveland. We’re flying over Cleveland, and we’re seeing thousands and thousands of homes. And that’s to make it clear to the public that, yes, we’re telling the story of two people, but really, we’re telling the story of millions of people. This is a story among millions. And I really hope this movie can shed light on a problem that is invisible, and one that is usually fought in the shadows. People are very embarrassed to talk about their addictions and things like that. So I hope this will shed light on that problem, and that people will change their attitudes towards people who suffer from addiction.
It almost feels surprising that there has been nothing about this very epic topic. What were the conversations like on set about the style of the film? I mean it’s quite stylized. Did you feel that during the recording, or is it all added afterwards?
Absolutely. I mean, the Russos changed their way of shooting over and over while we were making this movie, with different lenses they used, with different lighting styles, with different playing techniques. They sometimes framed us very differently throughout the film. So we were very aware of the different types of chapters we were trying to make.