CULTURE

What Is Don’t Look Up Even About?

It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, but what is it about?


Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Netflix’s upcoming satire Don’t Look Up has one of the most star-studded casts in Hollywood history. The Oscar-winning duo of Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio topline the film, but the expansive cast also includes an Avenger, a Friend, and the biggest artist on Spotify. Yes, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Matthew Perry, Jonah Hill, Madea‘s own Tyler Perry, indie queen Melanie Lynskey, and Hellboy himself Ron Perlman are all attached. Directed by The Big Short‘s Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up is currently filming in Massachusetts, but not much else is known. What could have possibly enticed that pop culture pantheon of talent to all sign on to the same project?

From what we know so far, the film seems to skewer politics, the media, and our tendency toward science denialism in one fell swoop. (There are already obvious parallels to the United States’ botched response to COVID-19, the Trump Presidency, Fox News, and our ho-hum approach to climate change.) It also seems to be the climax of McKay’s career so far. Recently he’s been known for his poppy takes on real-life scandals (see: Vice and Bombshell), but earlier in his career he was known for broad, crowd-pleasing comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers. The director himself says it’s a “dark satire in the school of Wag the Dog, Dr. Strangelove and Network and if it is half as good as any of them, I will be happy.” Here’s everything we know so far.

Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio Play Two Astronomers Who Realize The World Is About to End

Two of Hollywood’s biggest stars portray low-level people who just study stars—as in, actual astronomers. Though they’re not particularly notable in their profession, they are the first to realize that an asteroid is on its way to destroy the earth. So they decide to go on a media tour to warn the world of impending danger. Rob Morgan plays another scientist who seems to join them in their quest.

Leonardo DiCaprio leaves South Station after on location filming of “Don’t Look Up” in Boston on Dec. 1, 2020. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and is directed by Adam McKay.

Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Meryl Streep Plays a Very Trump-like President

Early in his presidency, Meryl Streep donned orange face paint to play a very literal (and very chilling) Donald Trump at a gala. It seems she’s not yet done with miming him yet, although this time it isn’t a direct characterization. Though, the character she does play seems very Trumpian.

Streep revealed to Stephen Colbert that she’ll be playing President Janie Orlean. Hill, in a Trumpian case of nepotism, plays her large adult son who also serves as her chief of staff. According to Boston.com, President Orlean heads up the charge against the idea that the world is about to end, and leads her followers in chants of “Don’t look up!” (Beanie Feldstein voice: “It’s the titular phrase!”)

Matthew Perry Plays a Tucker Carlson-Like Commentator

As we know by now, delusional politicians need their enablers in the media, and the same Boston.com report claims that Perry will appear as a conservative talking head who bolsters the claims that no such asteroid is coming to earth. Apparently, an actor dressed to resemble Trump-backing musician Kid Rock appears alongside him.

Chris Evans Is Rumored to Play an Elon Musk-Type Mogul

Elon Musk superfans (yes, they exist) like to claim that the billionaire is the real-life Iron Man, but it’s someone who plays another member of the Avengers that may inhabit a Musk-like character in the film. Evans’s character is rumored to be some type of boastful tech CEO. According to IMDb, the character is named Peter Isherwell.

Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry Feature in Several Scenes Together

Yes, folks! It’s the “Carol” and “Medea” crossover we’ve all been waiting for. The unlikely duo of Blanchett and Perry have been spotted filming numerous scenes together and their characters are likely connected.

Ariana Grande Plays “Riley Bina”

This is Grande’s first non-musical film role, but it may be a small one. She revealed on Instagram that she’s already done filming and that her character’s name is Riley Bina.

Timothée Chalamet Plays “Quentin”

Only one fan-shot photo of Chalamet reportedly on set has been circulated, and it seems that his part in Don’t Look Up may be small. Though, IMDb lists his character named as Quentin.

Related: Adam McKay: Funny, with a Chance of Politics