Behind the Making of ‘Leave the World Behind’: A Dive into the Star-Studded Cast and Cinematic Vision


Netflix’s upcoming apocalyptic thriller, “Leave the World Behind,” directed by Sam Esmail, brings together a formidable ensemble cast featuring Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, and Kevin Bacon. Esmail, also the producer and writer adapting Rumaan Alam’s novel, reflected on the impactful moment when the cast realized they had never worked together despite their longstanding careers within the industry.

Netflix’s Leave the World Behind:

The director shared that the synergy on set was profound as the actors grasped the unique opportunity presented by their collaboration. “Leave the World Behind” marks a first-time joint venture for actors Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke. At the same time, Kevin Bacon had previously shared the screen with Roberts in the film “Flatliners” decades ago but never worked with Hawke.

Esmail attributed his stroke of luck in assembling this cast to the intricate storytelling and the demanding nature of the roles. His outreach to these esteemed actors was met with enthusiasm, emphasizing the quality and caliber of the cast, which he considers to be among the finest. He credited the actors’ craft for breathing life into the characters, shaping the multifaceted dimensions of the story.

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Addressing a popular urban myth, Esmail humorously debunked the notion that Ethan Hawke and Kevin Bacon were the same person, affirming that the film provides visual evidence to dispel this theory. Witnessing these accomplished actors, whom he admired while growing up, collaborate on a project he helmed was a personal highlight for the director.

The film, which premiered at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, revolves around a family’s idyllic vacation in a luxurious rental home, spiraling into chaos when a cyberattack severs their connection to the outside world. This disruption coincides with the unexpected arrival of two strangers at their doorstep, amplifying the tension and drama.

Director Sam Esmail Unveils Behind the Scenes Magic of ‘Leave the World Behind:

Securing Julia Roberts for the role of Amanda Sandford was an intuitive decision for Esmail, given their prior collaborations in “Homecoming” and “Gaslit.” Roberts, drawn to the position after swiftly devouring the book, saw an opportunity to challenge her ‘America’s Sweetheart’ image and embody a character with layered complexities. Esmail commended Roberts for effortlessly channeling humanity into diverse characters, making her casting a straightforward choice.

Additionally, the film features Mahershala Ali and Myha’la in the father-daughter duo G. H. and Ruth Scott roles. Esmail altered the dynamic between the characters from the source material, transforming Ruth from G.H.’s wife to his daughter. This change aimed to juxtapose diverse viewpoints in navigating the crisis, fostering compelling drama.

One of the film’s striking elements lies in its intricate cinematography, influenced significantly by the collaboration and input of Roberts, Hawke, and Ali. Esmail emphasized how the cast’s involvement in blocking scenes and shaping visual language impacted the production’s aesthetic, aligning with the story’s focus on character-driven narratives.

Leave the World Behind

The director noted the collaborative spirit, likening the filming process to theater work, where extended takes energized the actors, allowing them to maintain continuity and immerse themselves fully in scenes.

Apart from Alam’s novel, Esmail curated a list of movies for the cast’s inspiration, blending originality with genre references. Films such as “Threads,” “The Towering Inferno,” “The Shining,” and “The Thing,” among others, served as touchstones for evoking the desired emotional and visual resonance.

Esmail’s commitment to aligning his creative team’s vision through cinematic references underscores the meticulous approach to infusing depth and intensity into “Leave the World Behind.”

As the film “Leave the World Behind” nears its release, the anticipation heightens for audiences eager to witness this star-studded ensemble breathe life into a gripping narrative of tension, drama, and profound performances.


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