Don't Look Up: Adam McKay Talks Improv and Ariana Grande

Don't Look Up is one of the movies of the moment right now, for better or for worse. We here at Bleeding Cool really liked the movie, but there have been plenty of people that really didn't like it. Director Adam McKay is known for improv on his sets, and there was plenty of it on Don't Look Up. He did a segment for the Netflix Film Club youtube channel talking about the balance of improv and script. He said that this movie, in particular, is about 88% script and 12% improv. He also said that it's usually best to do a take or two just going off of the script and then letting actors go loose. There are several moments in the movie that he cited were improv, including Leonardo DiCaprio telling children they will die on an in-universe version of Sesame Street and Jonah Hill doing a prayer for "stuff" in the eleventh hour. McKay also said that Ariana Grande absolutely did some improv when she recorded the song "Just Look Up" for the latter half of the movie [transcription from Screen Rant].

Ariana Grande most certainly did improvise. In fact, her best improv was when she sang the song for the first time. She's the one who added all that stuff about 'We're all going to die' and 'Turn off that s***box news.' That was her riffing on the first scratch track of the melody line. And the second I heard it, I was like, 'That's going in the movie.' And that might be one of my favorite moments in the movie where you have pretty much the biggest popstar in the world singing beautifully, 'We're all going to die.' Every time I see it, it just has this hilarious cognitive dissonance with it. So Ariana Grande can definitely improvise.

Don't Look Up: Adam McKay Talks Improv and Ariana Grande

McKay fans might want to check out the full video below, it's just under twelve minutes, but McKay talks about other productions he was on, including both of the Anchorman movies and Stepbrothers. At the end of the video, McKay says that whatever he said that sounded like a rule, to ignore it because there are no rules in comedy. It looks like they will be doing more than one episode of this series, so if Don't Look Up was a movie you liked, and you want to learn more about the behind-the-scenes process, keep an eye on this youtube channel.

Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy grad student, and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) make an astounding discovery of a comet orbiting within the solar system. The problem — it's on a direct collision course with Earth. The other problem? No one really seems to care. Turns out warning mankind about a planet-killer the size of Mount Everest is an inconvenient fact to navigate. With the help of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), Kate and Randall embark on a media tour that takes them from the office of an indifferent President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her sycophantic son and Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), to the airwaves of The Daily Rip, an upbeat morning show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry). With only six months until the comet makes impact, managing the 24-hour news cycle and gaining the attention of the social media-obsessed public before it's too late proves shockingly comical — what will it take to get the world to just look up?!

Don't Look Up is written and directed by Academy Award winner Adam McKay (The Big Short) and also stars Mark Rylance, Ron Perlman, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi), Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis, and Tomer Sisley. It will be released in select theaters on December 10th and streaming to Netflix now.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.