With his Netflix satire Don’t Look Up, writer-director Adam McKay looked to address “the largest issue in the history of mankind”—that being the climate crisis, and the way people tend to either deny it is happening or refuse to acknowledge its “urgent and terrifying” weight.
While the subject at the heart of the film was incredibly serious, he said he wanted it to juxtapose “the terror of the reality” with “the absurd comedy” of misinformation.
“It’s almost like an old Marx Brothers movie or Three Stooges, where clearly there are mice loose at the opera premiere, but they’ve got to cover it up,” McKay said Saturday at Deadline’s Contenders Film: New York awards-season event. “And the mice are swarming everywhere.”
‘Don’t Look Up’ Teaser: Jennifer Lawrence & Leonardo DiCaprio Try To Save The World But Can’t Get Its Attention
Don’t Look Up follows two low-level astronomers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) who embark on a media tour to warn mankind of an approaching asteroid that will destroy Earth. The contradiction within humanity that it examines, said McKay, is the fact that while we’re looking “at this total collapse of life on Earth,” we tend to give our focus not to that, but to topics including “what Taco Bell’s next food creation is going to be.”
McKay isn’t overly optimistic that he’ll win over science deniers with this film. Instead, he’s set his sights on the people “that know about climate change and think it’s just one of many issues, which it isn’t.”
He was joined for today’s panel by two of his longtime collaborators: composer Nicholas Britell and editor Hank Corwin.
How ‘Don’t Look Up’s Adam McKay Got Leo, JLaw, Streep, Chalamet, Rylance To Sound Climate Change Alarm With Comedy On Comet Hurtling To Earth
Britell spoke to the challenge of crafting the film’s original song “Just Look Up,” which had to be “totally a love song” between Ariana Grande’s Riley Bina and Kid Cud’s DJ Chello, but “also becomes a song about, we’re all going to die.”
Corwin said that the process of cutting the film became almost like making “a collage,” discussing the challenge of making a film shot entirely in Boston “look global” and his struggle in grappling with its tone. “It almost felt operatic. Adam told me it was a comedy, I didn’t believe it and I struggled mightily,” said the editor, “and I found honestly the real truth of the film [was that it was] a comedy until it wasn’t.”
The ensemble for McKay’s latest star-studded feature also includes Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Rob Morgan, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, Chris Evans, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance, Michael Chiklis, Himesh Patel and Tomer Sisley. McKay and Kevin Messick produced under their Hyperobject Industries banner, with Jeff G. Waxman exec producing.
After a number of Covid-related delays — along with an on-set injury to Lawrence — the pic is set for a limited theatrical release December 10 and will stream on Netflix starting on Christmas Eve.
Check back Monday for the panel video.
The Sponsors for Contenders Film: New York are Michter’s Distillery, Los Siete Misterios Mezcal, Eyepetizer, and modMD.