The enthusiastic first reactions to Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” ignited Oscar buzz for Leonardo DiCaprio in the Best Actor race. But the A-list star did more than just act in the star-studded Netflix comedy. As McKay recently revealed in a Vanity Fair profile, DiCaprio was his co-writer when it came time to write and re-write one of his character’s most pivotal speeches in the film. The scene features DiCaprio having a breakdown on national television, and it was the actor’s request to add the moment to the movie.
As Vanity Fair reports: “Before DiCaprio signed on, he asked McKay if they could include a speech in the script, something akin to the ‘I’m mad as hell’ scene in ‘Network.’ ‘And I was like, “Speeches are tricky, man,”‘ McKay recalls telling him, worried about sounding preachy. ‘It’s like drum solos. They were awesome in the ’70s but…'”
“DiCaprio countered that they could undermine the speech for laughs, and so together they rewrote the speech 15 times,” the profile continues, with McKay adding, “I think it’s the biggest laugh in the movie when I test screened it.”
“Don’t Look Up” stars DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as astronomers trying to warn the globe about a meteor that will destroy the planet. McKay wrote the character of astronomer Kate Dibiasky for Lawrence, and the “Silver Linings Playbook” Oscar winner got the first read of the script. Landing DiCaprio was a different story.
“I think he’s amazing and I love his work, but I just thought there’s no way he’s going to do this because if I could only work with Martin Scorsese, I would only work with Martin Scorsese,” McKay told the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast earlier this year. “I would be Martin Scorsese’s assistant on set. So why would he do this with me? But as it turns out he really loved the script. We went back and forth on it. It was about a four-to-five month process with us just kicking around ideas. We took a break for the quarantine, and lo and behold once we figured out a theoretically safe way to shoot this movie, he was in. I couldn’t believe it. It’s no surprise he’s fabulous in the movie.”
“Don’t Look Up” opens exclusively in theaters December 10. The film’s streaming date is set for December 24 on Netflix.