When everything is spinning out of control in Cherry and Tom Holland’s title character finds himself on one of the most infamous crime sprees in Ohio history, there’s only one person he’s thinking of: his wife, Emily (Ciara Bravo), who has stuck with him through his struggles with addiction and PTSD. That’s the premise of Cherry, a gritty, high-drama film that’s now streaming on Apple TV+. Fascinatingly, the crime drama is actually based on a true story, borrowing from the life of Nico Walker, who wrote the 2018 novel Cherry. But what about Cherry’s wife, Emily? Who is she based on?
At the center of Cherry is Holland’s character, an Army veteran who, upon returning from a tour in Iraq, struggles with undiagnosed PTSD and turns to opiates to self-medicate. Soon, his expensive addiction drives him to bank robbery in order to settle his debts and continue to survive, which, in turn, results in him being arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison. It’s a tumultuous period of time in Cherry’s life, and as he deals with problem after problem, the threads holding him to some semblance of stability grow thinner and thinner. One of those threads is his longtime love, Emily (Ciara Bravo), who sticks with him and supports him when he returns home from active duty.
Cherry is semi-autobiographical in that Walker pulled from his own real-life experiences as both a veteran and a bank robber for the novel. He, too, dealt with undiagnosed PTSD, a drug addiction, and a life of crime, becoming one of the most prolific bank robbers in Ohio, according to a BuzzFeed profile. It’s in that profile we find that Walker also had a romantic partner, Kara, before he was deployed, and who tried to support him when he came back.
While there’s no hard confirmation that Cherry’s relationship with Emily is directly based on his relationship with Kara, we do know that the timeline of Cherry’s relationship with Emily leading up to his deployment tracks with that of Walker and his partner’s. After he enlisted and before he left for basic training, Walker and Kara eloped, as the BuzzFeed profile details. Months after he finally returned from Iraq in 2006, though, they divorced. Despite later attempts to patch things up amid his ongoing struggle with undiagnosed PTSD, their reconciliation didn’t last. They were not married during his spate of robberies.
In the years since their split, Walker has remarried. In December 2019, shortly after he got out of prison, he met poet Rachel Rabbit White. They revealed they were married in an August 2020 profile that Walker on his now-wife for Interview magazine.