Jamie Foxx plays famed lawyer Willie Gary in the Amazon film The Burial. It chronicles Gary’s famous court victory over Loewen Funeral Group, then a Canadian funeral industry titan found liable for breach of contract. Gary’s client, Jeremiah O’Keefe, a white owner of funeral homes in Mississippi, was awarded $500 million. 

Willie Gary is alive and still practicing law; some reports say he suffers from memory problems

Willie Gary is alive and still working as an attorney. He is a partner at Gary, Williams, Watson, Parenti & Gary, a law firm he founded in 1974. 

“I was born into the harsh fields of Georgia and Florida, so I’m no stranger to hard work,” Gary told USA Today. “I don’t think I’d ever want to walk away from the chance to help a family get something they feel they deserve. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t practice law.”

Gary lives in Florida with Gloria, his wife of over five decades. The attorney’s friends and family attended a private screening of The Burial, which Gary has used extensively as a marketing tool. 

A report by Insider suggests that Gary might not be doing as well as advertised. The lawyer and his firm have engaged in scuffles with the IRS since 2012. The private jets that he used to own no longer fly, the report alleges. In August 2023, lender Law Finance Group obtained a $5 million judgment against Gary and his firm. 

Multiple ex-clients have filed lawsuits against Gary, accusing him of malpractice, sexual deviancy, and theft, among others. Ernestine Elliot, one of the claimants, told the outlet that Gary appeared at mediation in 2022 with a cane and that his attorney said he was suffering from health problems. Elliot didn’t buy it. 

“The person that he claims to be in this movie is totally a lie. For a person that can’t remember, can’t hardly walk, but you’re making movies, you’re flying in and out of the country — how are you doing this with no money?” Elliot asked.