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Explore Willie E Gary’s life before The Burial and where the lawyer is now

The Burial introduces viewers to real-life lawyer Willie E Gary but who exactly is he and where is he now?

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Burial* — Prime Video’s newest film, The Burial, tells the incredible true story of Willie E Gary (Jamie Foxx), the lawyer of funeral director Jeremiah O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) whose business comes under threat after a large funeral operator reneges on a contractual agreement. In the film, Gary is shown to be an incredibly successful and smooth-talking attorney but does Jamie Foxx’s portrayal match that of the real-life lawyer?

Wille E Gary’s early life

Willie Edward Gary was born on July 12, 1947, in Eastman, Georgia and was raised as one of 11 children by his parents Turner and Mary Gary.

After growing up in migrant farming communities across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, Willie developed a huge passion for education and went on to study at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina through an athletics scholarship.

He graduated with a degree in Business Administration before setting his sights on becoming a lawyer and studied at the North Carolina Central University where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1974.

In the same year, Gary returned to Florida where he was admitted to the State Bar and founded his own law firm.

Jamie Foxx as Willie Gary gives an impassioned courtroom argument
© Prime Video | Skip Bolen

Does Willie win the case in The Burial?

Yes, Willie E Gary does end up winning the hard-fought legal case at the heart of The Burial.

The lawsuit against the Loewen Group in 1995 helped to put Willie E Gary on the map after he had spent the early years of his career working as a personal injury lawyer.

Gary’s victory saw the jury award Jeremiah O’Keefe $500 million in punitive damages, although the Loewen Group settled the case out of court for $175 million.

In the years since the Loewen case, Willie E Gary has earned the nickname The Giant Killer as he has made a habit of successfully winning some of the largest jury awards and settlements in US legal history, including cases valued over $30 billion according to the lawyer’s website.

Jamie Foxx as Willie Gary sitting with his feet on a desk in The Burial
© Prime Video | Skip Bolen

Where is Willie E Gary now?

Willie E Gary is still alive and well as of October 2023 and continues to operate his Florida-based law firm at the age of 76.

After first founding the initially local firm in 1974, Gary’s practice has grown into a nationally recognized practice called Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson and Gary, P.L.L.C. The firm consists of 37 attorneys, a team of paralegals and a professional staff of over 100.

As well as being a member of the Florida Bar, Gary is also part of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association and the NAACP and has won several awards for his work.

Gary is listed as one of the richest lawyers in the world according to Legal Desire and owns two private jets, the latest, a Boeing 737, is named Wings of Justice II.

Willie E Gary currently lives in Florida with Gloria, his childhood sweetheart and wife of over 50 years.

They have had four children together, Kenneth, Sekou, Ali and Kobie. Kenneth is the president and CEO of The Gary Foundation charity and the family’s real estate management company. Sekou is a trial attorney like his father. Ali is vice president of the Gary Foundation and also has a degree in Business Administration. And finally, Kobie works in his father’s law practice after graduating from Nova Southeastern University.

Alan Ruck as Mike Allred and Jamie Foxx as Willie Gary walk down the street
© Prime Video | Skip Bolen

The Burial is available to stream now on Prime Video after releasing on October 13, 2023.

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