‘Cherry’ writers Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg: ‘Mining empathy, which is quite universal’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“The opioid crisis, war, post-traumatic stress. Who among us hasn’t been touched by these things right now? These are things that have touched our families and our personal lives,” explains “Cherry” co-writer Jessica Goldberg about the universal themes explored in “Cherry.” Co-writer Angela Russo-Otstot agrees, noting that the duo focused on the emotional elements of the original story as a way to connect the film’s themes within the overall narrative. “Our compass was really about mining empathy, which is quite universal,” she explains.

We talked with Goldberg and Russo-Otstot as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key 2021 guild and Oscar contenders. Watch our interview above.

SEE ‘Cherry’ star Tom Holland on playing a heroin addict: ‘I felt a level of responsibility’

“Cherry,” directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, was adapted by Russo-Otstot and Goldberg from Nico Walker‘s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. It follows a young former army medic (Tom Holland) suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, who becomes a serial bank robber after an addiction to drugs puts him in debt. “Cherry” is set to debut in theaters on February 26 and on Apple TV+ for March 12.

“‘Cherry,’ while it’s a truly remarkable book, is more of a collection of experiences that don’t necessarily present a dramatic propulsion. The character is engaged in an existential exercise,” reflects Russo-Otstot about the monumental task of adapting the sprawling novel. From her perspective, in order to give the film a narrative arc suitable for film, the writer reveals that they “decided to focus on the love story as a through-line that would serve as a life preserver that could keep Cherry afloat through all of these experiences,” she says. “He’s a sensitive soul,” Goldberg concurs.

Russo-Otstot’s career has included writing for ABC sci-fi series “V,” TNT drama series “Trust Me,” and FX’s Emmy-winning drama “The Shield.” Goldberg was originally a playwright, with her off-Broadway play “Refuge” having won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She later went on to adapt and direct it as a film and has also written for TV projects such as Netflix’s “Away,” Hulu’s “The Path” and NBC drama series “Parenthood.”

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