In the riveting thriller Leave the World Behind, an ensemble cast – led by Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, and Myha’la – deliver a powerful exploration of a family’s struggle for survival in the face of a rapidly escalating cyberattack.
The Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) directed film unfolds as Amanda (Roberts) and Clay (Hawke) embark on a weekend retreat with their children. However, their idyllic vacation is shattered when G.H. (Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) seek refuge in their rented home, claiming it as a sanctuary from the encroaching chaos.
As things get chaotic, the movie isn’t just about suspense—it really dives into the nitty-gritty of humanity and identity. No one’s painted as a flawless hero, inviting you to ponder your own values and reactions in this topsy-turvy world.
In a recent chat with Gayety, the cast dishes on the film’s depth. Myha’la breaks it down, discussing how themes like racism and classism naturally come to the surface, reflecting the real-world pressures on the diverse characters.
“What I respect and was drawn to the most about this project is that it’s not like being like, we’re talking about racism now. Now we’re talking about class,” she explained. “All of those things exist because we’re human beings and we are talking and moving around into space together. And I like that this just, it peels back the curtains so that the audience can watch a situation and then they go home and have the discussion. You know what I mean? We’re not telling anyone how to feel about these instances. We are just letting them exist. And I think the best art does that.”
Ethan Hawke Talks Uncomfortable Scenes
Hawke, embodying the character of Clay, a father grappling with challenges, sheds light on the uncomfortable parallels between his character and real-life family experiences. “Well, it was really uncomfortable for me because there’s so much of Clay that I relate to, and there’s so much about him that I don’t like,” he said.
“It’s hard when you’re playing a character that slightly turns up the volume on aspects of yourself that you’re not proud of and a priority on being affable. There’s a time in life for a spine, and it’s some key pivotal moments. Clay does not have one.”
Spoiler Alert: In one scene, Clay must decide whether or not to help a distraught woman he sees on the street. “I find it a really powerful scene in the movie, almost so much so that I didn’t want to play it.”
When Clay decides not to help her, it prompts audiences to wonder about the kind of person he truly is.
“He does the wrong thing because he is afraid and he wants to be safe. And that’s why a lot of bad things in this life happen because people don’t put themselves at risk at all to help their brothers and sisters. And so the scene is actually a really dangerous scene in the best sense of that word, because like you said, it doesn’t talk about racism or classism or whatever. It’s just the subconscious is very loud and it’s penetrating and it forces you to look at it.
“Lots of people leave people by the side of the road every day, and they do it because they’re scared of what it will cost them. And this is an exaggerated scene of it, and I hate it. And it was very difficult to play.”
Leave the World Behind is now streaming on Netflix.
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