9 Things To Know About Nine Perfect Strangers

Stars Nicole Kidman, Bobby Cannavale, Melissa McCarthy, and others break down what you need to know about the series based on Liane Moriarty's book.

by | August 17, 2021 | Comments

Nine Perfect Strangers, Hulu’s star-studded adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel, follows a group of people from various backgrounds who visit a wellness center called Tranquillum House for what they believe to be a 10-day restorative retreat.

But this is not a vacation they will soon forget. Run by mysterious and ethereal Masha Dmitrichenko (Nicole Kidman) and her minions including Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Delilah (Tiffany Boone), the resort offers the promise of restoration and healing. But at what cost?

As the characters and the audience begin to question Masha’s motives, the situation becomes complicated, and it grows harder for guests to leave Tranquillum House before check-out.

Rotten Tomatoes spoke to the series cast and rounded up nine things you need to know about Nine Perfect Strangers before it premieres August 18.

1. It’s Not a Horror Series

Nine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Hulu)

Despite the premise set up with that logline — “All is not well” — series director Jonathan Levine said this is a show that “really transcends genre.”

“I certainly thought about horror and certainly thought about thrillers,” he said during the show’s Television Critics Association summer press tour panel. “But at the end of the day, even though we’re playing with those tropes, I think, for me, it was about character and about these beautiful people that you kind of empathize with and fall in love with.”

Still, he said, “We certainly were playing with the audience’s expectations and using genre as a vehicle to tell this story and to keep it compelling.”

2. But It Is a Show About Pain

Regina Hall in Nine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

The series discusses pain, but the emotional not what you’d find in a slasher flick. Regina Hall’s (pictured) Carmel Schneider is a divorcee who hopes things like losing weight will help her issues. Melissa McCarthy’s Frances Welty is a novelist experiencing setbacks in her career and personal life.

“Doing the show made you think a lot about what you do to cover up your problems,” McCarthy said at TCA, adding that “at some point, you have to get it out. So it’s like you’re already in the midst of being miserable and suffering, so make a change. And that’s so much what I think this show is about.”

3. The Guests Aren’t All Strangers to Each Other

Melvin Gregg, Asher Keddie, and Michael Shannon in Nine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

Michael Shannon (above right) and Asher Keddie (above center) play husband-and-wife Napoleon and Heather Marconi, who are at the wellness center with their daughter Zoe (Grace Van Patten) after experiencing a loss. Melvin Gregg (above left) and Samara Weaving play married couple Ben and Jessica Chandler, who have mastered the façade of perfection.

Both families are experiencing emotional strains in their relationships. At one point, during a trust exercise, Heather’s grief consumes her so much that she considers diving off a cliff.

“That was really poignant for me, actually, for the character, because it really spoke to the bigger question in the show,” Keddie told Rotten Tomatoes. “And that moment, when she is quite literally on the precipice, I think she has reached a point in her life where she actually just doesn’t know how to connect anymore.”

Van Patten added that “when you see Zoe, she has really pushed down a lot of her emotion and trauma and has been living in her parents’ trauma more than her own.”

When Zoe encounters Masha at Tranquillum, her instinct is to run, but there’s nowhere to go.

4. Fleeting Fame Is Also a Theme

Bobby Cannavale, Luke Evans, Nicole Kidman, and Melissa McCarthy inNine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

In addition to Gregg and Weaving’s social media celebrities and McCarthy’s novelist, Bobby Cannavale’s former athlete Tony Hogburn has reached that stage in his career where people feel like the recognize him — but they don’t know why.

In this case, Tony would rather you don’t know who he is.

“Part of that is the wardrobe,” Cannavale told Rotten Tomatoes. “I think this guy has physically transformed himself. He’s gained all this weight. And he does not want to be recognized.”

Cannavale describes the character as “pretty aggressive,” but “it’s behavior coming out of desperation.”

“Whether he realizes it or not, I think he’s trying to wake himself up,” Cannavale said. “I think he’s so numbed by these drugs and by how his entire life and those relationships have been clouded over by that, I think any kind of provocation will stimulate him in the right way.”

5. The Show Plays with Social Media’s Perceptions of Perfection

Melvin Gregg and Samara Weaving in Nine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

Weaving’s Jessica is beautiful but also lacks self-esteem and confidence. She is addicted to her phone, which she (like everyone else) must relinquish upon check-in. It pains her that she can’t Instagram a beautiful breakfast spread at the retreat.

Weaving told Rotten Tomatoes that she herself has “always had terrible anxiety” that she has managed through medication and therapy.

“Anxiety is such a mental state,” she said of playing Jessica. So she tried “to see how that could manifest physically. So I gave her a scratch and some ticks and rapid eye movements and things like that.”

She also “did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people who suffer from body dysmorphia.”

6. Tranquillum Seeks Out People Who Feel Like They’ve Exhausted All Other Options

Nicole Kidman in Nine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

Why would Jessica and Ben, who roll up in a fancy sports car, go here when they could just try couples therapy? Or when they could spend their time relaxing at a Hawaiian luxury hotel with Wi-Fi?

“I think they’ve done all of this stuff,” Gregg told Rotten Tomatoes. “Their life is a vacation and they tried couples therapy, but nothing is working … but she feels like the problem is bigger. So we need you need to take more extreme options.”

Jacinto added, “There comes a point in all our lives where you just reach this point of desperation where you need help. You can’t find it in your spouse or in your family. So you need someone to tell you that everything’s gonna be OK. And, when someone is that vulnerable, there can be abuses of power and abuses of trust.”

7. The Show Explores Wealth Inequality

Nine Perfect Strangers cast members

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

Much like HBO’s The White Lotus, Nine Perfect Strangers examines the excesses and expectations of wealthy people and how some lose sight of the humanity of the staff members catering to their whims.

“Diving into it more and maybe thinking about it after the project, you can’t help but sit back and think: How much money do these people have to spend?” Jacinto tells Rotten Tomatoes. “But, I mean, I’m sitting there judging them when, at the end of the day, I am such a sucker for self-improvement and for wanting to be better.”

Both series embed lower-income characters into the facilities’ guest lists, and those characters express a degree of imposter syndrome, in which they openly remark on their worthiness to be guests. And while The White Lotus draws strict lines around its predominantly white guests and ethnically diverse staff, Nine Perfect Strangers offers more of a mix on both sides of the equation.

8. Jacinto Is Here For Your The Good Place Comparisons

Manny Jacinto and Tiffany Boone in Nine Perfect Strangers

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

The actor, who rose to fame playing the delightful simpleton Jason Mendoza on The Good Place is aware that this is yet another series where a bunch of unsuspecting individuals arrive at a utopia lorded over by a character played by a tall acting icon (in the NBC comedy, it was Ted Danson). But in this version, Jacinto’s Yao is in on it all. How do you play someone who knows all the secrets but can’t tell anyone?

“I think it’s finding an anchor in regards to what my character wants,” he told Rotten Tomatoes. “With Yao, all he wants to do is serve and help people. As long as he serves that purpose, he’s not going to reveal the possible risks that that purpose might entail.”

9. Kidman Stayed in Character the Whole Time

(Photo by Vince Valitutti/Hulu)

“I sort of found the accent due to putting together her whole life story and made it a Russian-American mix,” Kidman told reporters during the TCA panel. “The first scene we shot was the scene where I come in in the room and say, ‘I am Masha. Welcome to Tranquillum.’ And then, I was able to stay in that place.”

She adds that “I wanted a very calm healing energy to emanate all the time. So, I remember going over to people and sort of putting my hand on their heart or holding their hand.”

She also said she wouldn’t respond when people called her “Nicole,” and she’d have people run scenes with her in her rooms, but “I would create a different space for them. So it was a really weird place to exist.

“It was the only way I could actually relate to people was that way,” she said, “because I felt like, otherwise, I would be doing a performance, and I didn’t want to feel that way.”

Nine Perfect Strangers premieres August 18 on Hulu.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

italian Sundance TV cinemax elevated horror festivals video crossover singing competition wonder woman Fall TV hispanic heritage month The Walt Disney Company cars blockbuster theme song 4/20 Arrowverse Lifetime Disney+ Disney Plus Pet Sematary series History nature YouTube Premium Exclusive Video Elton John Tarantino Mary poppins Walt Disney Pictures comics biopic Travel Channel ESPN The Witch Amazon historical drama X-Men Rocketman comic books teaser marvel comics children's TV breaking bad TCA video on demand Winter TV Creative Arts Emmys Prime Video obi wan rom-coms posters a nightmare on elm street high school rt labs Lionsgate YA docuseries VH1 Calendar Spectrum Originals werewolf Instagram Live Superheroe Song of Ice and Fire award winner ITV SDCC football VOD Video Games Dark Horse Comics crime crime drama new york Spike Universal Pictures documentary Watching Series Rocky period drama ID emmy awards Family Nickelodeon independent olympics remakes 72 Emmy Awards crime thriller See It Skip It worst movies toronto Thanksgiving summer TV Neflix Sneak Peek 90s Trailer broadcast Television Critics Association Box Office USA Network Nat Geo Paramount Network comic book movie CNN streaming CBS All Access young adult TV Fox Searchlight USA El Rey Esquire political drama spider-man DC Universe President Ellie Kemper Pop Biopics Trophy Talk TV One Netflix Christmas movies BET TV Land sopranos vs. BAFTA Sundance Now Epix SundanceTV science fiction TCA Winter 2020 spider-verse versus Film reviews HBO Max cancelled television 73rd Emmy Awards Fantasy TBS docudrama Funimation rt archives know your critic thriller Crackle boxing book Black History Month classics Rom-Com romance Sundance Mudbound IFC Films LGBT war Wes Anderson Stephen King IFC Election french adaptation christmas movies politics mockumentary criterion Britbox revenge 45 jurassic park 2019 FOX kaiju godzilla Paramount concert TIFF live event APB Reality The Academy Binge Guide films 94th Oscars cops Awards Holidays Bravo Disney Channel Amazon Prime Writers Guild of America Action HBO leaderboard Summer 79th Golden Globes Awards Best Actor Syfy asian-american cancelled TV shows gangster boxoffice comiccon DC streaming service Hallmark TCA Awards New York Comic Con true crime TruTV CMT The CW screen actors guild satire Pop TV HBO Go kids Certified Fresh hist Trivia E3 hidden camera fast and furious Classic Film Apple TV+ sports child's play monster movies slasher Women's History Month Logo 007 E! Rock book adaptation new star wars movies animated FXX American Society of Cinematographers tv talk zombie summer preview Mindy Kaling Pixar superman BET Awards ghosts composers festival talk show Music Turner Classic Movies Extras First Look Set visit doctor who Disney Plus Valentine's Day RT History rt labs critics edition Mary Tyler Moore name the review Alien Baby Yoda diversity National Geographic critic resources Hallmark Christmas movies HFPA dreamworks The Purge Marathons Sci-Fi robots The Walking Dead Tumblr Comedy Best Director Apple Turner Mary Poppins Returns Comic-Con@Home 2021 basketball Interview twilight comic Western zombies comic book movies Avengers Film Festival cats best razzies Mystery mutant black comedy Schedule legend Peacock 93rd Oscars movies archives Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt scorecard GoT Musical Premiere Dates CW Seed Awards Tour new zealand game of thrones deadpool MCU franchise The Arrangement discovery Disney cancelled TV series 24 frames mission: impossible superhero 71st Emmy Awards Comics on TV hispanic Discovery Channel Martial Arts king arthur Hollywood Foreign Press Association travel TV movies spain AMC Plus spy thriller adenture Fox News Emmys technology australia Nominations casting TCM golden globes blaxploitation Chilling Adventures of Sabrina WGN dark Polls and Games Countdown Amazon Studios justice league Winners japanese cancelled nbcuniversal 99% south america what to watch adventure pirates of the caribbean strong female leads interviews blockbusters Country Horror Marvel Studios Hear Us Out canceled Netflix Quiz halloween tv DirecTV space psychological thriller james bond Tomatazos mob news Teen popular transformers screenings action-comedy free movies stoner CBS Red Carpet dragons 21st Century Fox Star Trek genre TCA 2017 sequels SXSW 2022 Apple TV Plus scene in color stand-up comedy Kids & Family Endgame Marvel black GIFs TLC Warner Bros. Ovation dc facebook Character Guide trophy LGBTQ rotten MGM Pride Month witnail renewed TV shows Starz Cosplay Legendary Tags: Comedy 2017 reboot Freeform spanish ABC GLAAD movie Best and Worst indiana jones TV renewals debate Cartoon Network chucky Acorn TV BBC Universal Christmas Reality Competition NBA Animation disaster Disney streaming service YouTube Red First Reviews golden globe awards Television Academy telelvision cooking Showtime Crunchyroll SXSW Oscars streaming movies Columbia Pictures sitcom kong Vudu Captain marvel Adult Swim 2016 Grammys Comedy Central dexter aapi rotten movies we love anthology streamig feel good Best Picture comedies prank 2021 suspense NBC Focus Features WarnerMedia spinoff game show Podcast FX on Hulu Food Network obituary Superheroes mcc BBC America VICE scary spanish language dogs cults PlayStation DC Comics Image Comics ABC Signature ABC Family Shudder indie Holiday target critics Comic Book dceu venice universal monsters summer TV preview parents directors stop motion San Diego Comic-Con serial killer nfl Broadway television Black Mirror Tokyo Olympics RT21 OneApp Emmy Nominations saw Shondaland batman Toys fresh laika green book MTV Paramount Pictures Star Wars PBS dramedy harry potter scary movies AMC Cannes Masterpiece zero dark thirty YouTube Photos international Fargo Infographic all-time sequel social media joker toy story Amazon Prime Video Oscar japan die hard miniseries Musicals canceled TV shows Ghostbusters Pacific Islander richard e. Grant based on movie vampires cartoon NYCC biography Drama TNT documentaries quibi sag awards police drama romantic comedy 2020 MSNBC anime Brie Larson foreign FX binge Chernobyl 20th Century Fox halloween live action Marvel Television Hulu A&E psycho hollywood 2015 aliens OWN 1990s heist movie latino medical drama 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards marvel cinematic universe king kong ViacomCBS Paramount Plus Pirates Best Actress finale royal family natural history A24 Anna Paquin Year in Review trailers slashers Lucasfilm IMDb TV Spring TV women art house Tubi supernatural Lifetime Christmas movies South by Southwest Film Festival BBC One lord of the rings DGA Opinion worst jamie lee curtis PaleyFest Super Bowl Sony Pictures Heroines ratings unscripted Academy Awards 2018