The intense drama “Leave the World Behind,” featuring Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, and Mahershala Ali, is based on Rumaan Alam’s book, a favorite of Barack Obama in 2021. Produced by the Obamas’ company, Higher Ground, it’s their first try at scripted drama on Netflix. Director Sam Esmail, in a recent Vanity Fair talk, revealed Obama’s valuable contributions to the script.
Esmail shared, “In the first drafts, I went a bit extreme, and President Obama, using his experience, gave insights on how a crisis might realistically happen. His notes covered characters and empathy, showing not just his background but also his wish for a great film as a fan of the book.”
Unlike typical disaster stories where characters unite, “Leave the World Behind” intentionally ends with uncertainty, without a clear message. Esmail explained that this aligns with Obama’s belief that dealing with societal issues is an ongoing effort, not just during crises.
“And we shouldn’t wait for a disaster to start working. I think [Obama] would say the same thing,” Esmail emphasized. The film reflects on society with a subtle warning, breaking away from the usual disaster storyline where characters join forces to overcome challenges.
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