Looks like a The Pelican Brief reunion won’t happen after all.
Mahershala Ali has been cast opposite Julia Roberts in the Netflix adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s thriller novel Leave the World Behind. Deadline reports that Ali and Roberts will be directed by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, who will also write the adapted screenplay.
Originally, the film looked to be a reuniting of Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts, who worked together on ’90s psychological thriller, The Pelican Brief. But Ali will now take the role Washington was rumored to possibly have.
The film will follow two families who are forced together on a weekend gone wrong. The film will dive into themes about race, class and parenthood.
As Shadow and Act reported in 2020, Leave the World Behind is a sci-fi family drama that revolves around a couple vacationing with their teenage children. Another couple, who owns the vacation home, interrupts the family’s life after a city blackout. On top of current modes of communication stop working, such as television, internet, radio, and landline telephones, sonic booms go off in the distance, disrupting animal migrating patterns and causing the family’s mental and physical health to decline. While the owners and renters of the home are similarly affluent, the races of the couples–the owners being Black and the renters being white–come into play. As Deadline writers, “[the story] explores how our closest bonds are reshaped–and unexpected new ones are forged–in moments of crisis.”
Roberts will produce through her company Red Om Films, with Alam executive producing. Also producing are Esmail and Chad Hamilton via Esmail Corp., and Red Om execs Lisa Gillan adn Marisa Yeres Gill.
Fans are gearing up for Ali to portray the classic Marvel character Blade in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s upcoming reboot. Ali will also star in Apple TV+ film Swan Song.