When audiences take their chance to tune in and watch Cherry on Apple TV+, they’ll find themselves face-to-face with a particularly harrowing story of one Iraq veteran’s struggles with PTSD, opioid addiction, and the life of crime he takes on to support said addiction. It’s supposed to be rough and gritty, but what’s interesting is that a lot of that grit is collected from a book that actually partially follows the life of its author, Nico Walker. So, with such a gripping story at hand, it’s not hard to imagine that viewers finishing Cherry might be wondering just where Nico Walker is now. Here’s what we found out.
Cherry tells the story of a young man of the same name (played by Tom Holland), who becomes a combat medic in the Army, serves in Iraq, and returns home with undiagnosed PTSD. As a result, he self-medicates using opioids, specifically heroin, and in order to keep up with this expensive addiction that weighs significantly on his health and his wallet, he turns to a life of crime. As Cherry delves further into becoming a bank robber, he finds his life is spinning wildly out of control, and he risks losing the few good things he has in his life.
The film takes a lot from Walker’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, which was published in 2018. The book features several real-life experiences Walker had serving in Iraq and his own subsequent dealings with PTSD, including his struggles with an opioid addiction and four-month stint as a bank robber. It’s a decidedly tough read, one in which Walker pulls no punches in describing the horrors he saw while at war. As he explained to The Guardian, “It was something I didn’t want to lie about. I needed to show it for how it really was and dispel any myths. It was a pretty bad experience.”
Walker actually wrote the novel in prison, where he was sent after he was apprehended during his 11th bank robbery. He’s since gotten out of prison, a few years ahead of his scheduled 2023 release. He explained during an NPR interview in February that he got out early on compassionate release to help care for his mother, who died of leukemia in 2020.
Now, Walker lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, poet Rachel Rabbit White, as he told GQ in February. He’s also continuing his writing career. “I have tons of pages and I really need to just set down the final manuscript,” he told the magazine of his next book. “It’s very different from Cherry. It’s in third person, not first person. I’m trying to challenge myself and take different approaches with what I’m doing.” The novel is based on his time in prison, per his NPR interview.
Interestingly, Walker was not too closely involved with the Cherry film. Though he’s listed as an executive producer “on paper,” as he described it to GQ, “the Russos honored the contract by paying for the rights to the book. They didn’t necessarily use me on the film, which is their prerogative. I’ve seen a little bit of the film. I’m not really trying to see it.” He went further, saying, “I guess the main reason is I have my own idea of what that story is, and I don’t want to replace it with somebody else’s version. I know that’s kind of selfish.”