“That was his main focus”: Barack Obama’s Involvement in Julia Roberts’ Netflix Movie Finally Gets Clarity Amid Myriad of Controversies

Leave the World Behind director Sam Esmail confirmed that Barack and Michelle Obama were on board as producers and had no ulterior motive regarding the views expressed in the script.

“That was his main focus”: Barack Obama’s Involvement in Julia Roberts’ Netflix Movie Finally Gets Clarity Amid Myriad of Controversies


  • Julia Roberts’ Netflix film Leave the World Behind faced a few conspiracy theories regarding the involvement of Barack and Michelle Obama as producers.
  • Audiences believed that the Obamas were trying to establish their opinions through the themes of the film.
  • Director Sam Esmail denied these rumors and clarified that the couple were involved in the film purely on a creative level.
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America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts set the latter half of 2023 alight with her latest film Leave The World Behind. This psychological thriller based on the novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam, follows two couples who grapple with a sudden technological crisis during a family vacation on an island.

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Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts in Leave the World Behind

Apart from a glittering cast that includes Ethan Hawke, Kevin Bacon, and Mahershala Ali, the film is also produced by former President of USA Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama. While Roberts publicly stated that she was excited to have the Obamas on board, director Sam Esmail had to answer and clarify a few conspiracy theories about the reasons behind the former President and First Lady’s presence.


Also Read: Julia Roberts Earned $500K Per Every Minute For a Short Cameo in One of the Worst Chick Flicks Ever

Director Sheds Light On Barack Obama’s Involvement In Julia Roberts’ Film

Following their stint at the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama started a production company called Higher Ground Productions and signed a deal with Netflix to produce docu-series, documentaries, and features for the service. One of the films that they bankrolled this year was Netflix’s Leave The World Behind starring Julia Roberts in the lead. The thriller which follows a family’s survival during a technological breakdown, also throws light on the world’s dependence on technology and the dangers of hacking that could lead to chaos.

Barack Obama
Many people questioned the real motive behind Barack Obama’s involvement in Julia Roberts’ film

While many viewers including Roberts, director Sam Esmail, and the other cast members were delighted to be able to collaborate with the Obamas, their involvement also created a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories among netizens. Many people were of the opinion that the theme of the film reflected the couple’s own views on the world along with sending out a warning about the dangers that could prevail in the future.

Sqaushing these rumors once and for all, director Sam Esmail clarified that there was absolutely no ulterior motive behind the former President’s involvement. In an interview with Collider, Esmail revealed that Obama’s love for the novel and his affinity for telling stories through movies were the only reasons for him coming on board and contributing to the filmmaking process.


“Because President Obama is such a movie lover, he really focused his notes on trying to cinematically portray what was in the book in a really interesting way. So he really gave notes with regards to character, empathy, and also the disaster elements. It was really across the board. And again, it was all in pursuit of making it into a good movie. That was his main focus.”

Responding to rumors about Obama trying to manipulate the script, Esmail also added that the politician did not in any way change the basic structure of the script that was initially written, and only added his opinions on characters and scenes during the filming process.

Also Read: Leave the World Behind Soundtrack: Every Song Featured in Julia Roberts Starrer – Where to Find Them


Julia Roberts Was Hyped To Have Barack And Michelle Obama As Producers

Apart from playing an important role in Sam Esmail’s Leave the World Behind, Julia Roberts also added her name as one of the producers of the Netflix project. Her bigger thrill though, was hearing that former President of the USA and former First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama were co-producers for the project. Speaking of her excitement on the dynamic couple’s involvement, Roberts said in an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,

“I was told that in the beginning. I go, ‘wait, how did that happen?’ It’s right up there with Cheap Trick as my first concert. This is my street cred right there.”

Julia Roberts
A scene from Leave the World Behind starring Julia Roberts

The Oscar winner went on to state that the Obamas were avid readers, and the novel by Alam was on their reading list. She also revealed that the couple took a keen interest in how the film shaped up, and believed that their name and influence behind the project gave it the necessary credibility.


Also Read: Disney Saved Iconic Julia Roberts Film That Was Similar To Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man in More Ways Than One


Written by Sharanya Sankar

Sharanya Sankar, Writer for Fandomwire
Having completed her Masters degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, Sharanya has a solid foundation in writing which is also one of her passions. She has worked previously with Book My show for a couple of years where she gained experience reviewing films and writing feature articles. Sharanya’s articles on film and pop culture have also been published on Film Companion, a popular film-based website. Apart from movies and pop culture, her interests include music and sports. She has contributed over 650 articles to Fandomwire so far.