Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke & Mahershala Ali Film ‘Leave the World Behind’ Shoots in Riverhead

"Leave the World Behind" cast members: Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali
“Leave the World Behind” cast members: Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali
Udo Salters and David Crotty/PMC

Filming in the Town of Riverhead for Leave the World Behind, an upcoming Netflix movie starring Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali was scheduled to conclude April 29, according to Newsday. Shooting took place the week of April 25 in multiple locations throughout the area, which stands in for the locale featured in the Hamptons-set source material, Rumdan Alam‘s acclaimed novel of the same name, published in 2020.

The Riverhead Town Board, at its meeting on April 5, had granted the streaming service permission to film at locations in Wading River, including Sound Avenue between East Winds Drive and Hulse Landing Road, and in Riverhead on Horton Avenue between Reeves Avenue and Sound Avenue.

Earlier in April, the film added Kevin Bacon and Farrah MacKenzie to the cast. The film is directed by Mr. Robot producer, writer and showrunner Sam Esmail who also executive produced Homecoming, an Amazon Original series starring Roberts that can be streamed Amazon Prime.

Widely praised as a thought-provoking, dystopian thriller (of sorts), Leave the World Behind focuses on a White, middle-class and middle-aged married couple, Amanda (played by Roberts) and Clay (Hawke), who are vacationing with their teenage children in a fabulous Hamptons Airbnb before their trip is interrupted by the homeowners, a slightly older, wealthy Black couple, G.H. (Ali, who replaced Denzel Washington in the role) and Ruth, who have left the city to escape an unprecedented blackout. With no other choice, both families occupy the home together, and tensions build as the disaster in the city creeps ever closer, and the blackout spreads across the East Coast, eventually leading to their internet, television, radio and landline telephone being shut down, cutting them off from the news or any connection to the outside world. Both families are left scared and confused as unsettling sonic booms shatter the peaceful countryside, and animals — such as unusually large herds of deer — begin to migrate in strange ways, appearing to be fleeing from the area. Everyone in the home begins to suffer declining physical and mental health, and issues of race and class bubble to the surface, distracting them from the mounting disaster.

Leave the World Behind was a National Book Award for Fiction finalist in 2020 and was optioned by Netflix before publication. The National Book Awards judges citation raved, “Leave the World Behind is elegant, sensuous, thrilling, taut. It is an incisive examination of race and class, an absorbing story about what the beginning of the end of the world might look like. This novel is a towering achievement. Rumaan Alam’s prose is precise, pointed, gorgeous. The characters he brings to life and their humanity are so finely observed. Leave the World Behind will want you to do anything but that.”

Alam has written two other novels, Rich and Pretty (2016), and That Kind of Mother (2018).

No release date has been announced for Leave the World Behind.

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