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‘Leave the World Behind’ Trailer: Ethan Hawke Questions Mahershala Ali in Apocalypse Thriller

Ethan Hawke and Julia Roberts are bracing for the apocalypse after Mahershala Ali informs them that the world as they know it is ending.

Such is the premise for star-studded Netflix thriller “Leave the World Behind,” directed by “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail. The film is adapted from Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel of the same name which was published during the height of the pandemic.

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The official synopsis reads: Amanda (Julia Roberts) and her husband Clay (Ethan Hawke), rent a luxurious home for the weekend with their kids, Archie (Charlie Evans) and Rose (Farrah Mackenzie). Their vacation is soon upended when two strangers — G.H. (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la Herrold) — arrive in the night, bearing news of a mysterious cyberattack and seeking refuge in the house they claim is theirs. The two families reckon with a looming disaster that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.

Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground production company is behind the film, with director Esmail, actress Roberts, Chad Hamilton, Marisa Yeres Gill, and Lisa Gillan also producing. “Leave the World Behind” is opening AFI Fest in Los Angeles. Higher Ground also launched historical drama “Rustin” on Netflix starring Colman Domingo as the titular Civil Rights leader, with Chris Rock also starring.

Esmail, whose “Leave the World Behind” marks his first feature since 2014’s “Comet,” told Vanity Fair that the film sets out to “invert” the idea of a disaster movie.

“The spectacle of the disaster is secondary and off in the distance,” Esmail said. “The disaster genre is one of my favorite genres, and the trick that we did in this film that differs from most disaster films is that in that genre, the focus — the priority of the storytelling — is on the set pieces. It’s on the spectacle of whatever the disaster might be for that story, and the characters were secondary to that. They’re more there to react and become the audience avatar.”

“Leave the World Behind” premieres in theaters on November 22 and will stream on Netflix December 8. Check out the trailer below.

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