LONDON — British actor Tom Holland, best known for playing Spider-Man, went through a physical transformation to play a drug addict war veteran suffering from PTSD in the new Russo brothers’ movie “Cherry.”
Holland, who rose to global fame when he was cast by the Russo brothers as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 2016 superhero movie “Captain America: Civil War,” said he wasn’t sure if he was ready to take on the title role in the new gritty crime drama.
“It was incredibly daunting … at the stage I was in my career, I was very new to this type of project,” the 24-year-old told Reuters.
“I was questioning whether I was the actual guy for the job. And it took some convincing from the Russos that they had the confidence in me that I could do this.”
“Cherry” is inspired by Nico Walker’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name and tells the story of 23-year-old Ohio-native Cherry who, disenfranchised and heartbroken after believing he has lost the love of his life Emily (Ciara Bravo) enlists in the army and soon finds himself serving in Iraq.
He returns home a hero but his life quickly unravels as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder incapacitate him and he spirals into drug addiction, bringing Emily with him. To finance their addiction, Cherry starts robbing banks.
The film is divided into six chapters detailing different parts of Cherry’s life as he transforms from a college student into a bank robber. Holland said he lost and gained about 30 pounds (13.6 kg) to play Cherry at his lowest.
“It was the most brutal thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
Anthony and Joe Russo said they drew inspiration from their own background.
“We are from Cleveland … It’s part of the country that suffered a lot of economic strife over the last few decades. And there’s a general sense of a lack of forward momentum when you grow up there,” said Joe Russo.
“We’ve had friends and family members who have died from overdoses and others who are struggling with their sobriety. So this was a very important issue for us to spotlight.” (Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Editing by Giles Elgood)