'Nine Perfect Strangers': An Inside Look at Filming the Drug Trip Scenes

Nine Perfect Strangers takes place at a wellness resort called Tranquillum House. While there, the guests are given psychedelic drugs and have various reactions. The Marconis experience visual and auditory hallucinations of their dead son. Lars has extremely vivid dreams and Frances face-plants into her oatmeal. Filming scenes where the characters are tripping is no small task. Director Jonathan Levine explained how he created these scenes for the Hulu series to put fans in the headspace of a person on drugs.

The guests at Tranquillum House take hallucinogenic drugs

When the guests arrive at Tranquillum House, Masha begins microdosing them with psilocybin, aka “magic mushrooms,” in their smoothies. The guests admit that they aren’t feeling like themselves, but otherwise, the drugs don’t seem to have a dramatic effect while the guests are microdosing. That quickly changes when Masha ups the dosage.

Jessica has a frightening hallucination of her nose falling off. Frances sees a tiny version of the man who scammed her on the internet. Carmel thinks that Masha is her husband’s new girlfriend and attacks her. In spite of this, the Marconis agree to take an enormous concoction of psychedelic drugs with Masha in an attempt to see their dead son again. As the guests take more and more drugs, the crew had to consider how to film the drug trip scenes.

Levine wanted beautiful visuals for the drug trip scenes in ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’

Levine has experience filming characters on psychedelic drugs. He directed The Night Before, a comedy film about three friends celebrating one last wild night on Christmas Eve, which includes a hallucinogenic drug scene. Nine Perfect Strangers is much more serious, but Levine still made room for some drug-addled comedy.

“I’d say the scene in Nine Perfect Strangers that gets closest to that is when Bobby [Cannavale] is getting into the pool in episode 6 and he’s like, ‘I can’t get out of this throne.’” Levine told Entertainment Weekly. “To me, it really resonates because of the comedic conceit that when you’re on drugs even the simplest task is extraordinarily challenging.”

However, Nine Perfect Strangers‘ focus was more on the healing aspects of psychedelic drugs. Levine captured beautiful visuals while the characters were tripping. “I wanted a sophistication and a beauty to be apparent in the look and feel of the scenes,” he told the outlet. “I wanted it to replicate what your eyes feel like when you’re sitting outside on a mushroom trip — sort of this blown-out, flarey kind of vibe.”

The ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ cast may have done some psychedelic research of their own

Nine Perfect Strangers certainly captures the beauty of Tranquillum House while the guests are on drugs. The cast also managed to portray their tripping characters without being too over the top. Regina Hall, who plays Carmel, even hinted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that some of the cast did “research” for their roles by trying out psychedelic drugs.

All episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers are currently streaming on Hulu.

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