Leonardo DiCaprio, a prominent environmental activist outside of his acting career, said writer-director Adam McKay’s newest film “Don’t Look Up” cracks the code on climate change.
“We’d all been wanting to get the message out there about the climate crisis, and Adam really cracked the code with creating this narrative,” DiCaprio told reporters on Sunday night at the Netflix film’s premiere at The Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence star as two low-level astronomers who discover a planet-killing comet that’s hurtling toward Earth. To their dismay, they are obliged to warn mankind about the imminent catastrophe — similar to scientists today currently warning the world about climate change.
“It’s really hard to reinvent the wheel as far as articulating the science of climate crisis, but what he did here was create a sense of urgency,” DiCaprio said. “We all wanted to be a part of a movie that, from an artistic standpoint, I think shifted the paradigm and made us start having conversations hopefully in a different type of way.”
Jennifer Lawrence said that one of her biggest “personal” struggles while filming was losing a tooth.
“I lost a tooth pretty early in the filming,” Lawrence said, adding that one of her veneers fell off. “And I couldn’t go to the dentist until the end of the movie, so I had to film most of the movie toothless.”
“Don’t Look Up” explores how a life-altering event can become politicized by government officials and media personalities, which McKay said coincidentally ended up reflecting the politics of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I mean, it was a total coincidence,” McKay told Variety. “I wrote the script before COVID, but at the same time, it wasn’t surprising. You look at where our country’s going, and to some degree, everything is politicized. In a lot of ways, we’ve lost that unifying spirit we used to have.”
French actor Tomer Sisley, on the other hand, said he believes the film represents a lot more beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think the movie is about COVID,” Sisley said. “I think it’s about American politics and the way the Trump administration treated science.”
McKay said science used to be a unifying factor in society, but at the same time, he understands where the distrust might be coming from.
“One of the ways we were unified was science, it used to be a given,” McKay said. “In fairness to people who don’t trust science, I don’t think it helped that a bunch of economists told us that free trade was gonna be great for everyone and Big Pharma has ripped us off over and over again. So the distrust is not out of nowhere.”
McKay also said that the media has been a major contributor to the current wave of polarization and distrust in science.
“I think our media has also failed us as far as giving us a baseline for what facts are,” McKay said. “I don’t go after any individual journalists or outlets, it’s our system. When the founders of America wrote the Constitution, the fourth estate was journalism. They never imagined that it would be a one-way profitization.”
In order to make the science feel as real as possible, McKay enlisted astronomer Dr. Amy Mainzer as the film’s official science advisor. Mainzer, who studies potentially hazardous asteroids and comets, expressed a more optimistic view of climate change.
“The important message to take away from this movie is that all is not lost, it is not hopeless,” Mainzer said. “Climate change can be tackled, we just have to do the basic legwork to get the job done.”