Don’t Look Up: Adam McKay reveals what he had in mind for the end, before changing everything

Don't Look Up - Cosmic Denial
Niko Tavernise / Netflix

The director changed the ending of his disaster comedy thanks to DiCaprio and Meryl Streep.

Attention, it will spoil!

Available on Netflix since December 24 (Merry Christmas!), Don’t Look Up – Cosmic Denial of Adam mckay presents itself as the film of the end of the year on the platform. American farce demonstration, Don’t Look Up tells of the frustration of two scientists and a NASA executive to make the world understand that the days of the planet are numbered, as a comet “bigger than the one that killed the dinosaurs” heads straight for Earth.

With a five-star cast filled with stars, including Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep in the lead, the feature film presents the theme of the end of the world from a comic and political angle. And if the end of this dark comedy is an apotheosis, it didn’t really have to look the same in McKay’s foregrounds. Which have been detailed in Variety.

“My goal is to kick the balls of people hard”

Indeed, while the film ends with a jump in time, some 22,000 years after the impact of the comet on Earth, part of the population was able to flee, including President Orlean (Streep) and BASH CEO Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance). Arrived on a new planet, more welcoming and green than Earth, they wake up completely naked in their ships before going out to discover their new habitat. They then meet strange animals (reminiscent of ostriches), which hasten to devour the President. We understand then that when the CEO of BASH had predicted her death, just before launching her operation on the comet, by telling her that she would be devoured by a brontaroc – “we do not yet know what it is”.

This ending, as cynical as it was, was not in McKay’s plans, however. AT Variety, the director confides that “The original ending was: ‘Oh, let’s start building our houses.’ And then someone says: ‘Oh, the basket carrying all the workers exploded.’ And there it is Mark Rylance who says: ‘I’ll give a billion dollars to whoever builds a house for me.‘And then the guy next to him adds: ‘I’m going to give $ 2 billion.’ And then you realize they’re all billionaires. They go on: ‘I’ll give $ 5 billion! 10 billion dollars! ‘An end to the height of the film, with a well-adjusted moral, which was not finally chosen at the time of the final cut, in favor of the arrival of brontarocs. “Does that mean that everyone on each of the ships gets eaten by brontarocs ?, asks McKay? In fact, yes. I think so.”

According to Adam McKay, this change in ending is due to Meryl Streep’s talents in improvisation. “We were filming the scene with Rylance, Meryl and Jonah in the BASH control room for the second launch, McKay says. I said to myself : ‘We should do a game. Why don’t you talk about something? We never know. It could be kept. ‘ And Meryl, who knows how to improvise so well, said to me: ‘I want to know how I’m going to die!’. After discussion, each agreed on the death of the others: for Jonah hill (Jason Orlean in the movie), he was to die in three days eating rotten human flesh. For Streep, the idea came for her character to be eaten by a creature. “Mark, Meryl and I embellished the idea a bitMcKay continues. I think every time we said the creature’s name it changed, and the hold we used was a brontaroc. And after turning it around, I said: ‘It is very funny. We should end up seeing her get eaten by a brontaroc! ‘ A decision that then prompted special effects supervisor Gieringer to create an animal, at McKay’s request: “We add a new rhythm. We create a whole new creature”, the director would have told him.

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Note that if the improvisational talents of Meryl Streep partially modified the end of the film, she is not the only actress to have tried something unexpected on the set, so that it is kept during the editing. Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays one of the leading roles, has also been able to pull out of the game to influence the end of this cynical comedy.

Still in the lines of Variety, Adam McKay says Randall Mindy’s latest line (“The point is, we really… we really have it all, haven’t we? I mean, if you think about it.”) was imagined by DiCaprio, who wanted to bring a new dimension to the last meal of the Mindy family. McKay describes filming the dinner scene at a Massachusetts home “in freezing cold”. Between takes, DiCaprio came to see McKay and script supervisor Cate Hardman: “You know, I feel like I should say something.” He then gave his idea of ​​a reply. “He said the line, he didn’t even read it in character. And immediately Cate, who plays that tough Texan, and I both cried, and my voice cracked a bit. ..) I said to myself : ‘Yes, I think you should try this!’A replica “punch” for the filmmaker, who nevertheless failed to integrate it into the editing, before changing his mind. “We were so scared of her in the editing room, because she was hitting us so hard. For a while, we didn’t even have her in the edit. And then towards the end, we were like, ‘You know what ? We have to try this line. ‘

A final line that then influenced the last shot of the Mindy family, which was to be cut on a black shot. But faced with the emotion of the scene, Adam McKay wanted to integrate special effects, and film the destruction of the house, in the background of the characters at the table. “That’s how we got the shot behind the character of Rob Morgan, with the wall crumbling, the window shattering behind Leo, the kitchen shattering behind Jen.” And for McKay to ask himself, facing his finale: “Are we going too far? We want to be sad, but we don’t want to be traumatized. Like, I want to cry, but I don’t want to, you know, sob uncontrollably!”

Don’t Look Up – Cosmic Denial has been available on Netflix since December 24. By Adam Mckay. With Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep … Duration 2h25. His trailer:

Don’t look up: Cosmic Denial, an irresistible joke demonstration [critique]

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