Skip to main content

Amy Ryan Was Amazed How Netflix's Worth Tackled A Unique Facet Of 9/11 History

Amy Ryan listens patiently with Michael Keaton in the background in Worth.

Netflix’s original film Worth tells a 9/11 story that most Americans might not know too much about. Focusing on the formation of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, and the in and outs of the process to get it instituted, Michael Keaton and Amy Ryan deliver two of the pivotal performances that make up the heart of this film. It’s an aspect of 9/11 that viewers might be surprised to learn about, and even Ms. Ryan herself was amazed by how director Sara Colangelo’s film tackled this unique facet of history.

On behalf of the release of Worth onto Netflix’s streaming library, I was given the opportunity to speak with Amy Ryan, who plays attorney Camille Biros in the film. Alongside attorney Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton), who served as special master to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Biros heard claims from families who had lost loved ones in the devastating terrorist attack. It was that aspect of Worth that helped hook Ryan into her role, as well as the story of writer Max Borenstein’s script:

I didn’t know about it either, in terms of, like, 9/11 happens, and a few days afterwards this commission is being put into place. And I’m struck with people who can actually go to work and function in those days soon after. I was really taken by that, with Ken and Camille’s task at hand. It seems very dry on paper, like ‘It’s a movie about some people figuring out what people are worth? Oh my gosh. How do you make that into moving pictures?’ But as we also follow Michael’s character who has to learn how to take it all, the math sheets and the grid, and make the human connection as Ken and Camille did.

Based on Kenneth Feinberg’s memoir, What Is Life Worth, the film audiences will see in front of them doesn’t focus on the tragedy of September 11th itself. Rather than revisit the events, which have been chronicled in various other documentaries and historical dramas like United 93 or Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Worth chooses to tell the story of the immediate aftermath. As families tried to figure out how they were going to live without those they’d lost, Feinberg, Camille Biros and the rest of their legal team were trying to work out a settlement that was supposed to stave off a financial apocalypse.

Those two concepts don’t seem like they’d make for an emotional drama on paper. Much like we see Michael Keaton and Amy Ryan bridge the gap between what makes legal sense and what makes human sense, Worth is both a study in law and a portrait of humanity. And ultimately, as Ryan described it, the film is also a snapshot of a time when everyone came together in the face of adversity:

Sitting with every victim’s family, every claimant, it made it a much more human process. It is moving, it’s a time when, also, the country came together, regardless of political background. Everyone came to New York to help out. I remember that, seeing tons of license plates on emergency vehicles from all over the country. It was so moving.

As audiences view Worth, hopefully they’ll be moved by the honest emotion and intense detail given to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund’s creation. With the 20th anniversary already starting to be commemorated, Amy Ryan and her co-stars deliver a reminder of the very human processes that helped the nation heal in those early years after. A true story of compassion and justice, Worth is currently available on Netflix.

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.