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Published: 09:58, November 30, 2023 | Updated: 10:00, November 30, 2023
Julia Roberts on 'Leave The World Behind': Strangers, danger, layers
By Reuters
Published:09:58, November 30, 2023 Updated:10:00, November 30, 2023 By Reuters

Julia Roberts (left) and director Sam Esmail arrive at the screening of the film "Leave The World Behind" on Nov 29, 2023 in London. (PHOTO / AP)

LONDON - US actress Julia Roberts says her new film Leave The World Behind is a multilayered disaster thriller that allowed her to play someone very different from herself.

Executive produced by former US president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the movie is written and directed by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam.

It sees Roberts' character Amanda, her husband and two children head on an impromptu holiday in a small Long Island town. Their getaway is interrupted when a man and his daughter, played by Mahershala Ali and Myha'la Herrold, turn up on their doorstep claiming to be the owners of the upmarket residence and requesting to stay the night. As tension builds between the two families, strange events start occurring around them and they find themselves under the same roof trying to make sense of the chaos outside.

"There's always about 17 and a half things going on at one time in every scene for each person. It was just all the layers of the people and the circumstances," Roberts told Reuters at the film's premiere in London on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: George Clooney, Julia Roberts reunite on big screen for rom-com

Julia Roberts (left) and director Sam Esmail are interviewed upon arrival at the screening of the film "Leave The World Behind" on Nov 29, 2023 in London. (PHOTO / AP)

The Hollywood star cherished the challenge of playing cynical advertising director Amanda.

"Just the idea of playing someone who's sort of intrinsically suspicious and a little prickly, which is not my nature, but to still make her human and approachable and likeable."

Fans of Alam's book should not expect a faithful adaptation, Esmail warned.

"Something that works in a literary medium may not work in a cinematic medium. I was very upfront with Rumaan that I really was going to take liberties with the interpretation. I ran through all the ideas, he was on board and then in a lot of ways I think we both got what we wanted because his book and the film are kind of two different standalone pieces that kind of operate independent of one another."

READ MORE: When real-life horrors strike the screen

Leave The World Behind, which also stars Ethan Hawke and Kevin Bacon, is out in select cinemas and starts streaming on Netflix on Dec 8.

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