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Leave The World Behind: Julia Roberts is in a new disaster movie – how do her survival skills stack up?  | Ents & Arts News

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Her new film is a disaster movie that sees characters struggling to cope when cut off from the technology they have come to rely on.

But Julia Roberts has told Sky News’ Backstage podcast that she reckons she would be just fine in that scenario.

“I’m 56 years old – I grew up with, like, Triple A Triptychs where you turn the page on the map, and you’re like, ‘Oh, Dad, now we’re going to get down here and… we’re going to go [here]…’

Undated film still handout from Leave The World Behind. Pictured: Ethan Hawke as Clay and Julia Roberts as Amanda. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Leave The World Behind. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Leave The World Behind.
Ethan Hawke and Julia Roberts

“I mean, I can do it – I was a Girl Scout, come on! I am not just an actor,” she said.

“I can tie all kinds of knots.”

Leave The World Behind is a psychological thriller based on the 2020 novel of the same name about a family who are renting a house on Long Island when two strangers arrive amidst a mysterious blackout.

It’s a film that leaves audiences wondering how they would cope in a similar situation.

Roberts says her main takeaway from working on it is relief that it’s not something she really has to deal with.

“Just glad that it’s a movie, right?

“I mean the book scared the absolute bejesus out of me, it did, and the movie, I think, is very creepy and insidious,” she said.

“And so get out there, people, get your tickets, get your popcorn!”

Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts

Writer-director Sam Esmail says after reading the book he immediately re-read it as he had long wanted to make a disaster movie and liked that the threat in Leave The World Behind is somewhat enigmatic.

“The thing about this movie, and it was prevalent in the book, but I really wanted to expand upon it in the film, was the idea of uncertainty being the monster,” he explained to Sky News’ Backstage Podcast.

“Because typically, especially in a disaster genre, you’re told what the disaster is pretty much upfront, and then the characters are going to have to wrestle with how they overcome it or navigate around it, etc… But I really wanted to keep that a mystery because I felt that was more true to life.

“You know, ambiguity is something that we have to kind of wrestle with every day and then we ultimately never really get answers or solutions to it, and I thought that that was more of a relevant anxiety that I wanted to explore.”

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND (2023) Myha...la as Ruth, Mahershala Ali as G.H., Ethan Hawke as Clay and Julia Roberts as Amanda.  CR: JoJo Whilden/NETFLIX
Myha’la Herrold, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke and Julia Roberts in Leave The World Behind. Pic: JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Roberts plays the cynical mother of the family who is trying to have a break from modern life when disaster strikes and they are presented with a much bigger break than they imagined.

The character is complex and layered and the star says those are the more fun people to play.

“Absolutely – just more interesting and more complicated,” she said.

“And then you add in [the other characters] and then to create all the circumstances that Sam has put us in, in this story, it’s like a sandbox.”

A still from Netflix film Leave The World Behind Pic: Netflix
A still from Netflix film Leave The World Behind. Pic: Netflix

Industry star Myha’la Herrold plays one of the strangers who arrives at the holiday home – and who brings a sometimes obnoxious but often truthful Gen Z perspective to what’s happening in the movie.

The actress says there were plenty of pinch-me moments while on set with the cast which includes Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke as well as Roberts.

“The day I got the job, the day after that, all the days leading up until the first day and then the day after the first day,” she laughed.

Julia Roberts and Myha'la Herrold
Julia Roberts and Myha’la Herrold

“[It was] a huge, a huge opportunity in so many ways and I felt very honoured and grateful and I was very up for and ready for the challenge.

“On day one, I was very much like, ‘I’m ready for this masterclass, I’m ready to take this class’ and it was very much that, but in the same breath I felt so welcomed in and I was treated as a peer and challenged, so rising to that is my favourite thing.”

Leave The World Behind is out on Netflix. For more on the film listen to the latest episode of Backstage, the film and TV podcast from Sky News.

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