Director Sam Esmail revealed that former President Barack Obama gave him notes on the script for Netflix’s adaptation of author Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, published online Wednesday, the Mr. Robot creator said that he actually turned to Obama when he was penning the original drafts because he would help “ground me a little bit on how things might unfold in reality.”
“I am writing what I think is fiction, for the most part, I’m trying to keep it as true to life as possible, but I’m exaggerating and dramatizing,” Esmail explained. “And to hear an ex-president say you’re off by a few details … I thought I was off by a lot! The fact that he said that scared the fuck out of me.”
Last year, Higher Ground, the production company founded by the former president and Michelle Obama, signed on to the film, which stars Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la Herrold and Kevin Bacon.
Alam’s novel follows a couple who heads out on vacation in a remote area of Long Island with their two teen children. But when the owners of their rental return in a panic, saying a sudden blackout has swept through the city, causing chaos, the two families are forced into a tense living situation.
Esmail said he also felt more reassured after some of Obama’s notes, including his suggestions on the plot points in the script, saying they were too bare or unlikely. The director added that he found it interesting that most of the former president’s feedback stemmed from real life observations.
“He had a lot [of] notes about the characters and the empathy we would have for them,” the director-writer added. “I have to say he is a big movie lover, and he wasn’t just giving notes about things that were from his background. He was giving notes as a fan of the book, and he wanted to see a really good film.”
Leave the World Behind hits Netflix on Oct. 25.