Dec 6, 2021 - Energy & Environment

"Don't Look Up" draws from climate scientists' experience

Cate Blanchett (L), Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the new movie "Don't Look Up." (Netflix)
Cate Blanchett (L), Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the new movie "Don't Look Up." (Netflix)

The Adam McKay film “Don’t Look Up,” coming to Netflix later this month, is a gut-punch of a climate change comedy disguised as a movie about a comet headed directly at Earth.

Driving the news: In a virtual press conference Sunday, the film’s stars discussed how they constructed a comedy about a fictional doomsday crisis that’s a stand-in for another, all-too-real-life threat.

Details: The movie addresses the many ways that science has been warped, steamrolled and drowned out in recent years.

  • This film is likely to be cathartic for many climate scientists who have been subjected to politically motivated attacks for years. Many are frustrated that world leaders are not responding with sufficient urgency.
  • “We wanted to deal with this subject, the climate crisis, which is so overwhelming and it's arguably the greatest threat to life in the history of mankind,” McKay said. “If you're able to laugh, that means you have some distance. And I actually think that's really important.”
  • “You can feel urgency and you can feel sadness, and you can feel loss while also having a sense of humor. And that was really the intention with this movie after the crazy last five, 10 years we've all had across the planet, was that God, wouldn't it be nice to laugh at some of this and feel the other feelings?” McKay said.

Leonardo DiCaprio, whose philanthropic work focuses on climate change, said the climate science community’s experience served as a motivator for his character, particularly for one impassioned speech he delivers on a morning TV show.

What's next: "Don’t Look Up" opens in theaters on Dec. 10, and arrives on Netflix on Dec. 24.

Go deeper