Hollywood director stunned after getting advice from Obama on directing new film: ‘Scared the f— out of me’
A Hollywood director claimed former President Obama “scared the f— out of me” when the former world leader sent him tips on directing an upcoming disaster movie.
Director Sam Esmail, who has directed TV shows like “Mr. Robot,” and “Homecoming,” recalled how Obama sent him script notes for the upcoming Netflix film, “Leave The World Behind,” a Hollywood adaptation of author Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel.
According to Esmail, the former president “was able to ground” the director over his early version of the film’s script. Citing his experience with real world events, Obama claimed that some elements in Esmail’s script were “off by a few details.”
“He had a lot of notes,” the director recalled.
Esmail’s upcoming film stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke as a couple on vacation when a world-ending disaster threatens humanity’s existence. Things get complicated when the landlord of the house the couple is renting, played by actor Mahershala Ali, seeks refuge in the home with the renters, along with his daughter.
Premiering on Netflix in December, the movie represents the first fictional film produced by the Obamas’ “Higher Ground Productions.”
With the film being produced by his company as an adaptation of a novel that was on his 2021 summer reading list, Obama felt the need to recommend edits so that the film could be as real as possible.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Esmail described Obama’s involvement.
“In the original drafts of the script, I definitely pushed things a lot farther than they were in the film, and President Obama, having the experience he does have, was able to ground me a little bit on how things might unfold in reality,” he said.
The filmmaker continued, “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. 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 f—out of me.”
According to the director’s account, Obama drew from his own observations about human nature in his tips.
Esmail noted that Obama “had a lot of notes about the characters and the empathy we would have for them.” He also added his impression that the former president is a “big movie lover” who used his knowledge of the book to add more to the movie.
He added that “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.”
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