‘Cherry’ Director Joe Russo Explains Why Tom Holland Reminds Him of Robert Downey Jr.

Joe and Anthony Russo recently teamed up with Tom Holland to bring Nico Walker’s novel Cherry to the screen. The film follows an army medic with post-traumatic stress disorder who resorts to robbing banks to pay his opioid debts. The movie will premiere in theaters on February 26, and become available on AppleTV+ March 12. The film is expected to be one of Holland’s career-best performances, and award discussions are already surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe star.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Holland explained that he felt daunted going into the role — unsure if he would have the emotional range required for the protagonist. However, life is about risks he explained. And, he trusted that the Russo Brothers — who he had grown comfortable working alongside for multiple Marvel installments — would glean his best performance. 

Anthony and Joe Russo 'Cherry' billboard featuring Tom Holland
Tom Holland ‘Cherry’ billboard ad is seen in West Hollywood | fupp/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Joe and Anthony Russo also explained why Holland was the perfect pick for the role — noting that it became possible to visualize the book as a movie when they imagined Holland in the driver’s seat. Joe Russo also compared working with Tom Holland to working with Robert Downey Jr. — praising how seriously the young actor takes his art. 

Joe Russo on why he and Anthony Russo knew Tom Holland was the ‘right person’ for the role

Joe Russo explained that he and his brother “adore Tom.” He said, “having worked with him for years on three movies, we knew his range.” He added: 

“We also went through a very intimate casting process with him…you see hundreds if not thousands of actors for the next Spider-Man. So, the process we went through to discover Tom for that role was intense. We saw all of his prior work, including The Impossible, which he’s fantastic in, and he had incredible auditions with us…

Joe Russo | Entertainment Weekly 

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Russo also noted that Holland cares immensely about his work, and does everything in his power to ensure a sincere performance.

Joe Russo says Holland’s work ethic’ and attention to his ‘craft’ remind him of Robert Downey Jr. 

Russo praised Tom Holland’s work ethic, stating: 

“The work ethic he has really reminds us of Robert Downey. Tom really focuses very hard on the craft, and he has a team of people, a team of collaborators that he works with — from a dialect coach to an acting coach to his hair and makeup team — really intimately to craft characters in a way that only the best in the world do. And we were so impressed by that, and so impressed by his commitment to process…”

Joe Russo | Entertainment Weekly

Russo said that Holland knew “had it in him” to play a character who is so complex — someone who has been through traumatic experiences but still retains humor and heart. Holland has a “charm that is unquantifiable,” according to Russo.