Two of our finest living actors – Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts – are set to reunite onscreen for the upcoming Netflix family drama Leave the World Behind.
The project, which is based off of the not yet published Rumaan Alam novel of the same name, has locked in talented director Sam Esmail who has gained a deserved following based off of his work on such critically acclaimed ongoing shows as Homecoming (where he directed America’s Sweetheart, Julia Roberts) and Mr. Robot. To give it a filmmaker’s stylized touch, Esmail has adapted Alam’s novel into the shooting script for Leave the World Behind.
The story of Leave the World Behind revolves around a couple, Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay, who beat a hasty retreat from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives to spend some quiet downtime in a secluded vacation house they are renting. Coming along with the husband-wife duo is the requisite teenage son and daughter (my Magic 8 Ball predicts at least one of the kids will have a serious attitude problem, in the best tradition of family vacation films). What could possibly go wrong?
Enter the homeowners – Denzel Washington, playing one-half of the landlord team – who, late one evening, knocks on the door of their vacationing tenets and effectively shatters the idyllic charm of the family getaway. The older couple is in a panic, explaining to Roberts and her hubby that a blackout has crippled the seemingly distant city from which the family are vacationing from. There’s a caveat to this sudden and ominous news, however: The vacation house is quite rural and the internet and television are both down and – something the horror films of the past didn’t have to worry about explaining – there’s no cell phone service, leaving the vacationing family questioning what’s actually going on out in the world. The couple struggles to trust Washington and his wife, even as they begin to wonder if something altogether different and sinister might be going on here. Are they safe or in peril? Are the homeowner’s friends or enemies? The stage is set for a very long and terror filled weekend.
Set up to be a psychological mind-bender, Leave the World Behind has an aura of timeliness about it in regards to race and gender relationships with a nice dash of homage to such suspense directors as Hitchcock and Wise. Netflix reportedly scored the film rights to the novel for a cool seven-figure deal after a very heated bidding war broke out amongst them and such streaming platforms as MGM and Apple.
Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington famously starred opposite one another in the 1993 film, The Pelican Brief. Roberts once said that working with the critically lauded Washington on Pelican Brief was akin to “working with the Beatles.” For his part, Washington has said that he doesn’t “have actor friends,” but that Roberts (along with such contemporaries as Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson) were the exception to that particular rule. The two obviously are among the best actors of their generation and their work in director Alan J. Pakula’s The Pelican Brief is brimming with true chemistry. The fact that it’s taken twenty seven years for this intrepid duo to reunite on another project simply sets the stage for an eagerly awaited Leave the World Behind.
Variety reports that both Washington and Roberts are producing through her Red Om Films production company while Esmail and Chad Hamilton are listed as producing through Esmail Corp. Alam is an executive producer on the project while Red Om’s Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill will also get their five cents in via a production capacity. Both Washington and Roberts are reportedly receiving huge paydays for Leave the World Behind.