On Friday, the courtroom dramedy “The Burial,” starring Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones, makes its debut on Amazon Prime, showcasing the true story of attorney Willie Gary and his fight for Jerry O’Keefe’s funeral home businesses. As Willie, Foxx is at his outlandish best, delivering closing arguments like a Pentecostal preacher and developing a deep friendship with his client Jerry (Jones).
“It’s an odd match up. But Willie E. Gary said, ‘we’re all sons of the South,” Foxx says. “I thought that was an amazing tidbit to find, so during the shooting of this, that was sorta’ my mantra. These guys are just sons of the South.”
Gary, who was born in the small town of Eastman, Georgia and now lives in South Florida, said Foxx’s portrayal was mostly accurate, but a few things were changed “here and there” to increase dramatic tension. For Foxx, Gary was an exciting character to portray.
“Willie has so much swagger, so much style, and listening to the way he talked and interacted with people, I just thought he was so genuine and raw,” said Foxx. “It just felt good to be the essence of Willie Gary and to find a smart, bombastic, living outside-the-box-type of character, which is tailor- made for what I do.”
In the film, Gary is recruited by Jerry to take on a major corporation trying to stall a deal on buying a few of his funeral homes. In an effort to preserve his family’s legacy and a generational business, Jerry had faith in the outcome, resulting in a verdict of $500 million, even though the odds seemed stacked against him.
Although the two were from different backgrounds, Gary and Jerry became friends apart from the case. In a recent interview, Gary said he was drawn to Jerry because not only because he was a military veteran, but because he initially made the trip down to Florida to see him in action.
“Jerry was determined, and he did not give up (on this case),” he said, adding that he feels viewers will be inspired seeing the courage of a man taking on a system trying to take advantage of him.
When asked about his style and delivery, Gary pointed to his brother, who is his pastor, and growing up observing those who fought for civil rights. Like those fighting for equality, he said that his $30 billion plus verdicts have often helped ordinary people win against extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
“I hope viewers will take to heart that ‘together we stand, divided we fall’,” he said. “When you have hard work, determination and a refuse-to-be-denied attitude, it will allow you to do anything but fail.”
“The Burial,” directed by Maggie Betts and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Jamie Foxx, Jurnee Smollett, Mamoudou Athie, Pamela Reed, with Bill Camp, and Alan Ruck, begins streaming Friday on Amazon Prime.