Cherry screenwriter reveals the surprising reason the Russos hired her
"They decided to really focus on that part of the story," Jessica Goldberg tells Inverse.
The Russo Brothers aren't exactly known for romantic stories, but their next movie could be different. The directors behind Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame are teaming up with Spider-Man (aka, Tom Holland) for Cherry, currently slated to release in 2020 — and they had to recruit someone else to give the film its "human love story."
Jessica Goldberg worked as showrunner on Netflix's new space travel drama Away, but she's also credited as a writer on Cherry. She tells Inverse that Joe and Anthony Russo hired her before they even secured the rights to turn Nico Walker's semi-autobiographical novel into a feature film, and they did it for one specific reason.
"They called me and they said, 'We're trying to get this book, everybody wants it. if we get it. We think we need a woman to write it,'" Golberg recalls, adding that the book's approach to women is "very difficult."
Set against the backdrop of America's opioid epidemic, Cherry follows an unnamed narrator as he goes from a college student to a soldier in the Iraq War to a drug-addicted bank robber. The book is "anecdotal," Golberg explains, so she was brought in to shape it into a cohesive narrative, and also to give the book a "human love story" with a "fleshed out" female character.
"They decided to really focus on that part of the story," Golberg says.
According to IMDb, Kelli Berglund plays the role of "Madison" in Cherry, who we're guessing will play Holland's love interest.
The playwright and screenwriter previously worked with the Russos on the sci-fi drama Exit West, a sci-fi drama based on a 2017 book and produced by Michelle and Barack Obama for Netflix, which is how she got the job on Cherry.
"Working with the Russo brothers is the most intense experience," Golberg says. "They literally go into a room and Joe Russo reads the movie out loud."
For the Russo Brothers, Cherry is a particularly personal story. Joe and Anthony grew up in Cleveland where the story takes place and it tackles an issue they care about deeply. In 2019, the Russos told Inverse that Cherry takes place in many parts of the city they're familiar with, describing it as a "special and personal project."
"It’s about as gritty as movies get," Anthony Russo said. "It will be a very intense film. It’s also a very artful film, and it’s about a very important subject matter that doesn’t seem to be getting addressed properly: The opioid crisis."
Cherry is currently in post-production but does not yet have a release date.