‘Don’t Look Up’: ‘Making such a difficult thing to talk about… lighthearted and funny’

Published November 18, 2021, 10:44 AM

by John Legaspi

It’s an apocalypse turned into a comedy

On Dec. 24, 2021, Earth is about to meet its end. Well, sort of. Netflix’s much-awaited film “Don’t Look Up,” which is set to premiere the day before Christmas, presents an apocalypse brewing and human beings don’t seem to be bothered by it.

When everyone tells you ‘don’t look up,’ you do exactly the opposite, right? (Netflix)

Directed and written by Adam McKay, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio as Kate Dibiasky and Dr. Randall Mindy, respectively, who discover a comet on a direct collision course toward Earth. They embarked on a media tour, even a visit to the Office of the US President, to talk about the imminent danger, but their efforts were fruitless.

In a recent interview, the Academy Award-winning director shared his inspiration for the film. He mentioned movies such as “Office Space” and “Idiocracy” and how they were his guiding light in crafting the film. “I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of finding a way to encapsulate these giant looming threats that we’re faced within this world, but to show it in a way that has a bit of fun with it,” he says.

Of course, in order to get the chaos right, science must back it up to make it as real as possible. To do just that, they employed their “major ingredient” for the film and that is astronomer Amy Mainzer.

“I spoke to a brilliant astronomer named Amy Mainzer. I was mostly curious about what the world for a female astronomer looks like since they’re so outnumbered,” Jennifer muses. “That helped shape Kate’s personality, how she dresses, how she carries herself.”

“She helped me incredibly in playing Dr. Randall Mindy just to be able to articulate this science and basically almost gave me a Carl-Sagan-like download on what astronomy is, what it means to be an astronomer, what you look for, and the importance of what that means for my character,” Leo adds. “She was probably one of the most helpful elements to my character that I could’ve imagined.”

‘Don’t Look Up’ stars Jonah Hill, Leonardo DiCaprio, Merly Streep, and Jennifer Lawrence (Netflix)

Watching its trailers alone can make anyone giggle a little, and that’s because of the stars’ dynamics during the filming, which involved some improvisations. “They all have a really great sense of the emotional line of their character. Because one of the big ways you’ll see people go wrong with improv is they’ll suddenly start doing things that aren’t consistent with their character,” Adam says. “They never shattered the reality. So all the actors we had in this film, even though some people may think of some of them as very dramatic, they all were just great with improvising. They jumped right in the water and started swimming.”

As for using comedy to express pressing issues, they think the movie sheds light on the embarrassing and hard-to-talk-about concerns in a way that people can laugh at it, breathe, and not hold anyone accountable for them at anyone at first instance.

“Making such a difficult thing to talk about, like climate change, lighthearted and funny, pointing out the embarrassing truths in all of us—it leaves this blameless place where we can actually look at an issue and laugh at it instead of pointing fingers at each other,” Jennifer says.

“In making this movie, there was this sense of everyone collectively exhaling in relief that we could finally laugh after the insanity of the last two (or 20) years,” the director says. “And that’s not to say that laughter is the only way to deal with confusing or scary times, but I think this movie is really for all the people out there who have been living in this crazy ecosystem and just want to laugh at that and maybe have a couple of basic problems solved. Like, can we at least do that?”

“Don’t Look Up” opens Dec. 10, 2021 in select theaters internationally, and is available Dec. 24, 2021 on Netflix.

Watch its newest trailer here: