Inside the Creepy Paradise Where Nine Perfect Strangers Takes Place

Just imagine a place called Tranquillum House. Whatever you’re picturing, it probably isn’t too far off from the idyllic retreat that Nine Perfect Strangers production designer Colin Gibson, set decorator Glen W. Johnson, and the rest of their team created for the new Hulu show, which premieres August 18. Based on the book of the same name by Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty, the eight-episode limited series stars Nicole Kidman as Masha, the (kind of creepy) leader of an intense wellness center where nine guests—played by Bobby Cannavale, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Melvin Gregg, Samara Weaving, Regina Hall, Asher Keddie, Michael Shannon, and Grace Van Patten—have come for a 10-day stay in hopes of healing their trauma and becoming better versions of themselves. 

The painting in Masha’s office “relayed her crazy mind swirling around and her eagle eye,” says set decorator Glen W. Johnson. It was created by Melbourne-based artist Gavin Barbey.

Photo: Vince Valitutti/Hulu

They are served personalized smoothies for breakfast and asked to surrender all electronics and participate in activities like digging their own graves and foraging for their own food. All of them look forward to their coveted one-on-one meeting with Masha, though some wonder if she’s the real deal. Each one of them, it is revealed, was personally chosen by her to attend. All of this takes place among the lush greenery and fig trees of Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia, in buildings made of concrete and glass with light wood accents. It’s everything a modern-architecture buff would want in a wellness retreat, and it all came together thanks to fate.

The show was originally supposed to be filmed in and around Los Angeles, with the team looking into established wellness retreats in Big Sur for exterior shots and studio spaces for interiors. Many of the resorts they looked at had “a 1960s and 1970s sort of look,” Gibson says, but this actually wouldn’t have fit as well with Masha’s modern philosophy. It was COVID-19 that forced the production to move to Australia, and by the time Gibson came on board, the team had already found a newly constructed modern wellness retreat in the hinterland called Soma, which would become one of two locations used for Tranquillum House.

“The photographs in each room related to the storyline of each character,” Johnson says. The bedding in the rooms came from Hale Mercantile Co.

Photo: Vince Valitutti

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