For a series that skewers the self-improvement industry, Hulu’s new miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers did manage to provide some needed healing for its star-studded cast and crew.
The story follows a group of mostly well-off but emotionally troubled people who attend a ritzy countryside health and wellness retreat run by an enigmatic guru (Nicole Kidman). The show, based on the novel by Liane Moriarty and co-created by hit machine David E. Kelley (Chicago Hope, Ally McBeal, Big Little Lies), was one of the first major film and television projects to shoot after the coronavirus shut down Hollywood for months, relocating the entire production from California to rural Australia, where COVID-19 cases were next to nil.
“We talked about how grateful we were that we got the chance to work,” says Bobby Cannavale, who plays an opioid-addicted ex-NFL star (watch above). “These endeavors are big, there’s hundreds of people at work, and you really are reminded of how important it is to go to work.”
The series takes a sometimes critical and satirical look at the world of luxurious and holistic practices that celebrities are known to indulge in, and the cast members we spoke to — Cannavale, Melissa McCarthy, Regina Hall, Samara Weaving and Melvin Gregg — had differing opinions on an industry that can be associated with excess and quackery.
“I haven’t done a lot of stuff like that,” admitted McCarthy, the tireless actress (and a producer of the series) who plays a bestselling author who has fallen prey to an online romance scam. “But not only after this series, but after the last year and a half, I’m trying to be, instead of always on the hamster wheel, maybe I should go spend a little time [away] just to recalibrate and be thankful for what I have instead [being focused on] the to-do list. I think it’s really made me think about, maybe you should take a little time every year to be like, ‘OK, what am I doing? What do I feel? What good stuff am I putting into the world?’”
Hall, meanwhile, is all about that retreat life. “I think they’re great, I’ve done all kinds — the strict raw food ones to the nice ones,” says Hall, who plays an upbeat mother and divorcée with deep-seated anger issues. “The one thing I haven’t done is something in a cave, but then I thought, ‘I don’t want to be in a cave. I do like a more comfortable dwelling.’”
You won’t see Cannavale, meanwhile, on a health and wellness getaway any time soon in real life.
“It’s not my cup of tea, dude,” he says. “I don’t like getting a massage. I always think they’re 10 minutes too long. I always want them to stop touching me. I don’t think those places are for me. The closest I’ll go is like the 10th Street baths in the East Village [of Manhattan] ’cause it’s been there for a hundred years and it’s weird. I don’t necessarily want to go to a place where they’re pampering you quite that much. I kind of want to go somewhere beautiful where people leave me alone unless I need them.”
Nine Perfect Strangers, which also stars Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Grace Van Patten and Asher Keddie, is now streaming on Hulu.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick
Watch the trailer: