Leonardo DiCaprio shared some dark humor about the state of the world and climate change at a screening for his upcoming Netflix killer comet comedy Don’t Look Up.
“I’m a Debbie Downer when it comes to this issue,” the actor and avid climate change activist said at a Q&A following the screening on Thursday night at the Regency Bruin Theater in Los Angeles.
“I really, really, am. I could go off for an hour,” DiCaprio added, to which his co-star Jennifer Lawrence jokingly balked, “An hour?”
“I’m not going to be Debbie Downer tonight,” DiCaprio said. “Hopefully, films like this that recreate the narrative, and start to create different conversations and more people talking about it will push the private sector and the powers that be to make massive changes. But right now though, we have such a limited amount of time and there’s such massive scale that needs to happen so quickly. And if we don’t do something, we know the outcome. We know the outcome.”
He’s talking about the end of the world, of course.
The film’s director Adam McKay was also in attendance, as was Meryl Streep, who plays the President of the United States in Don’t Look Up opposite DiCaprio’s science professor character and Lawrence’s PhD student. The movie follows DiCaprio and Lawrence in the aftermath of their discovery that a comet large enough to cause a mass-extinction event is rapidly hurtling towards earth. Other cast members of the large ensemble piece who were not in attendance at the Q&A include Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet and Mark Rylance.
McKay said he’d been toying with how to write a climate change movie for years and was having a hard time cracking it — until one fateful conversation with journalist David Sirota, who gets a “story by” credit on the film.
“I have written up a bunch of different ideas of how to enter the idea of the greatest, most important story in the history of mankind the climate crisis. I have written ones that — I wrote one-page treatments that were dramatic. I wrote some that were thrillers, and all credit to David Sirota, who’s a brilliant journalist,” McKay said.
“He also shares my frustration for the lack of urgency about this issue, and offhandedly three years ago said to me, ‘it’s like the asteroid is going to hit Earth and no one cares.’ And I was like, ‘That’s it.'”
DiCaprio connected with McKay after his Oscar speech for his role in 2015’s The Revenant, in which he used his platform to directly address climate change.
“After I made that speech, [McKay] came up to me and said, ‘That was really fantastic that you did that,'” DiCaprio said.
Like McKay, DiCaprio said he “had been looking for a film about the climate crisis” and was having similar difficulties.
“From a narrative perspective, it’s next to impossible,” he added. “You either do some existential journey through a person’s lifetime, or you make it a catastrophe movie where New York freezes over and people are dealing with the apocalypse — which this movie is.”
DiCaprio described McKay’s comet metaphor in Don’t Look Up as a “brilliant stroke of genius.”
“By creating a comet that was going to make impact within a year’s time: how do we as a species, as a society, as a culture, politically, deal with imminent Armageddon?” he said.
“He had cracked the code, so to speak, on how to bring all the insanity that we as the human race are responding to this crisis in a two-hour format.”
Don’t Look Up, directed by Adam McKay and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opens in theaters on December 10 and is available on Netflix on December 24.
Main image: Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy in Don’t Look Up, from writer-director Adam McKay. Photo by Niko Tavernise/Netflix