Mahershala Ali has officially joined Netflix‘s high-profile adaptation of Leave the World Behind, the adaptation of the best-selling novel by Rumaan Alam, Deadline reports.
He will join Julia Roberts, who also serves as a producer under her Red Om Films banner. Leading the creative is Mr. Robot‘s Sam Esmail, who will direct and produce through his own studio, Esmail Corp. Ali will replace Denzel Washington, who was circling the project last year when it was first announced.
Leave the World Behind is a slow-burn, social thriller that unravels its mysteries slowly until its climatic finale. An instant hit, Leave the World Behind quickly appeared on many Best of 2020 lists, including Barack Obama‘s summer reading list. The story follows a white family vacationing in Long Island who are shocked to find the Black owners returning after a blackout in New York City. Over the course of two days, the couples must decide whether or not to trust each other as information becomes more scarce and stakes are quickly raised.
Roberts will play one half of the white couple, who are written to be middle-aged. This is bound to be one of the many tweaks as Netflix adapts this under-300 page book into a series, but luckily Alam is also serving as an executive producer.
After winning his second Oscar, Ali has carefully chosen his projects, and that means that fans are really in for a treat in the next couple of years. Ali can be seen later this year in Swan Song, a tearjerker about a man who is diagnosed with a terminal disease, and must decide whether or not to replace himself with a clone to look after his wife and kids. Ali will also return to television and HBO with Unruly, the story of boxer Jack Johnson, the world’s first Black Heavyweight Boxing Champion. He’s also attached to Solitary, a film about a man who spends four decades in solitary confinement and Burn, a flick about an undercover detective who tries to secretly take down a dangerous drug cartel.
But Ali‘s most highly anticipated project is Marvel‘s Blade remake, in which Ali will take over the iconic role as a hybrid vampire from Wesley Snipes. Marvel is currently in talks with Mogul Mowgli director Bassam Tariq to direct, although nothing has yet been confirmed. Last year, Ali shared a killer drawing of him as Blade, which, naturally, looks incredibly cool. 2022 will really be the year of Ali.
No production date is set for Leave the World Behind, but we’ll keep you updated on future news.