Arts

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Adam McKay on new Netflix satire Don't Look Up

Adam McKay's new satire Don't Look Up stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers who can't get the US government to take them seriously about the killer comet they've just discovered. Kerri-Ann Roper speaks to them about making the star-studded film...

Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in the film Don't Look Up
Kerri-Ann Roper

LEONARDO DiCaprio has praised the director of Don't Look Up for helping to "change the narrative and create conversations" with the new film's satirical look at the climate change crisis and misinformation.

Written and directed by Adam McKay (The Big Short, Step Brothers), Don't Look Up stars DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers whose warnings of a 'planet killer' comet heading directly towards Earth are not taken seriously.

Now streaming on Netflix following a limited cinema release, the film's star-studded cast also includes Meryl Streep, Timothee Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Sir Mark Rylance, Ron Perlman, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey and singer Ariana Grande.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of its release, DiCaprio said: "I've been looking for a movie that was about this subject for decades now. This is an issue where everyone feels ultimately like what kind of difference can we make?

"What can we contribute to this cause? And Adam really cracked the code with this, with this narrative.

"There's so many comparisons that we can make to the climate crisis with this storyline. As a whole, I think it's probably the most important issue all of us could be talking about on a regular basis.

"It takes artists like this to change the narrative, to create conversation, and it's just an honour to be a part of it."

DiCaprio is a passionate climate change campaigner and has previously worked on a number of documentaries about animal poaching and the environment.

In 2014 he was appointed a United Nations representative on climate change and in November last year he made an appearance at Cop26, meeting fellow environmental campaigners the Prince of Wales and designer Stella McCartney.

The actor, who plays Dr Randall Mindy in Don't Look Up, said he hopes the Netflix film helps scientists be heard.

He said: "Adam created this film, which was about the climate crisis, but he created a sense of urgency with it by making it about a comet that's gonna hit Earth within six months' time and how science has become politicised.

"I was just thankful to play a character who is solely based on so many of the people that I've met from the scientific community and, in particular, climate scientists who've been trying to communicate the urgency of this issue and feeling like they're subjected to the last page on the newspaper.

"I love the way he portrayed these two different characters. One that is incredibly outspoken, like a Greta Thunberg type of character in Jen's, and mine that is trying to play within the system.

"But I also love the way he was just incredibly truthful about how we're so immensely distracted from the truth nowadays. And then, of course, Covid hit and there was a whole new scientific argument going on there.

"It's just such an important film to be a part of at this particular time."

Lawrence, who plays astronomy student Kate Dibiasky, said: "I think Leo said it perfectly. It's just so sad and frustrating to watch people who have dedicated their lives to learning the truth be turned away because people don't like what the truth has to say."

The film marks DiCaprio's first screen appearance since Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood in 2019, while Lawrence has not starred in a movie since the X-Men instalment Dark Phoenix the same year.

Lawrence said she felt like "a radio contest winner" when she met pop star Ariana Grande on set.

The hit singer plays Riley Bina, part of a 'power music couple' in the film alongside rapper Kid Cudi (real name Scott Mescudi), who stars as DJ Chello.

"I mean, I'm a huge fan of her music and Scott's," she said.

The Oscar-winning actress, who is expecting her first child with New York City art dealer husband Cooke Maroney, added: "It's just like, you know, like overwhelming. 'Cause our worlds don't normally collide.

"I just felt like a radio contest winner. I just didn't know how to talk to her. So I just, you know, did my best."

Grammy winner Grande and Kid Cudi perform the song Just Look Up in the film, which they co-wrote and has been released as a single.

Kid Cudi described Grande as "an incredible artist", adding: "And you know, her vocal performance is just like stellar… it's like her voice is just amazing.

"I'm just really happy that we were able to figure it out, and it worked man. I'm really proud of it."

Talking about his approach to film-making at the Don't Look Up premiere, director Adam McKay said: "You know, honestly, I would much rather be making Step Brothers movies for the next 20 years, but the world got so crazy.

"And, clearly, we're living in a time of tectonic change. And very frightening times, especially when it comes to the climate.

"Yeah, it was just, you know, those early movies that I did with Will (Ferrell) were a delight. And there is some point of view to those movies, but it just felt like it didn't make sense to keep making those movies.

"So, it's not like I had some personal change. It was more that the world changed so radically that I, as a film-maker, you can't ignore that."

:: Don't Look Up is streaming on Netflix now.

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