Director Sam Esmail revealed that former President Barack Obama gave him notes on the script for Netflix’s adaptation of author Rumaan Alam’s film Leaving the world behind.
In a recent interview with Vanity fairpublished online Wednesday, the Mr. Robot The creator said he actually turned to Obama when he was writing the original drafts because he would help “ground me a little bit about how things might unfold in reality.”
“I write what I think is fiction. For the most part I try to keep it as lifelike as possible, but I exaggerate and dramatize,” Esmail explained. “And to hear an ex-president say you’re wrong on a few details… I thought I was wrong by a lot! The fact that he said that scared the hell out of me.”
Last year, Higher Ground, the production company founded by the former president and Michelle Obama, signed on for the film, which stars Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la Herrol and Kevin Bacon.
Alam’s novel follows a couple who vacation with their two teenage children in a remote area of Long Island. But when the owners of their rental home return in a panic, saying that a sudden power outage has swept through the town 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 about the script’s plot points, saying they were too bare or implausible. The director added that he found it interesting that most of the former president’s feedback came 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 that he is a great film buff, and he didn’t just take notes on things related to his background. He gave notes as a fan of the book and he wanted to see a really good movie.”
Leaving the world behind releases on Netflix on October 25.