Home » Barack Obama sent script notes to Sam Esmail for ‘Leave the World Behind’

Barack Obama sent script notes to Sam Esmail for ‘Leave the World Behind’

by Stewart Cole

The upcoming Netflix disaster film “Leave the World Behind,” based on Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel of the same name, marks the first fictional film from Barack and Michelle Obama’s company Higher Ground Productions. Barack included the novel in his summer 2021 shortlist and is personally invested in perfecting the film adaptation, so much so that he sent script notes to writer-director Sam Esmail (known as the creator of “Mr. Robot” and “Homecoming”). .

“Leave the World Behind” stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke as a couple vacationing on Long Island when a world-threatening disaster strikes. Mahershala Ali plays the owner of the house the couple rents. The owner shows up seeking refuge from the disaster with his daughter (Myha’la Herrold), forcing the two families to trust each other as the world may end.

“In the early drafts of the script, I definitely pushed things a lot further than they were in the movie, and President Obama, having the experience that he has, was able to ground me a little bit in how things might actually play out. “Esmil he recently told Vanity Fair about the script notes he received from the former President. “I write what I think is fiction, for the most part, I try to keep it as true to life as possible, but I exaggerate and dramatize. And to hear a former president say that you’re missing out on some details… I thought I was way off the mark! The fact that he said that scared me.”

According to Vanity Fair: “The director was more reassured when the Obamas suggested that some of his potential plot points were too bleak or improbable. However, most of the former commander-in-chief’s notes came from what he had observed about human nature, particularly the way rifts form between people who might otherwise find common cause.”

“He had a lot of notes about the characters and the empathy we would have for them,” Esmail added. “I have to say he’s a big movie buff and he wasn’t just giving notes on things that came from his past. He was taking notes as a fan of the book and wanted to see a really good movie.”

With “Leave the World Behind,” Esmail tried to create a different kind of disaster movie than the ones he grew up watching.

“The disaster genre is one of my favorite genres, and the trick we did with this movie that’s different from most disaster movies is that in this genre, the focus — the priority of the narrative — is on the sets,” said Esmail. . “It’s on display whatever the disaster is for this story, and the characters were secondary to that. They are more there to react and become the avatar of the audience. What I think Rumaan did so well in the novel, and what I tried to capture in the film, is to reverse it and focus on the characters and their reaction. The spectacle of destruction is secondary and distant.’

“Leave the World Behind” is set to make its world premiere at AFI Fest in October. It will stream on Netflix from December 8.

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