‘Don’t Look Up’: Leonardo DiCaprio Helped Rewrite the ‘Biggest Laugh in the Movie’ 15 Times

Don’t Look Up is the satirical science fiction black comedy on everybody’s lips. Writer/director Adam McKay brings a huge ensemble cast alongside an unfortunately relatable message at the film’s core. Netflix is marketing the movie for theatrical and streaming releases, as well as toward awards voters. McKay recently said that actor Leonardo DiCaprio rewrote one Don’t Look Up scene 15 times, which he called the “biggest laugh in the movie.”

Leonardo DiCaprio really wanted a speech in ‘Don’t Look Up’

'Don't Look Up' star Leonardo DiCaprio wearing a tuxedo
Leonardo DiCaprio | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Turner

Vanity Fair interviewed McKay about Don’t Look Up. He talked about the process of getting DiCaprio signed onto the movie. The actor wanted to work on a movie with “environmental undertones,” but was having difficulty finding the right project until Don’t Look Up came along. McKay told DiCaprio that he wanted the tone to be similar to Network, Dr. Strangelove, and Ace in the Hole. However, there’s one thing that DiCaprio wanted to add to the script.

The profile reads, “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.” However, McKay wasn’t so sure about the idea of including such a scene in a modern film.

“‘And I was like, ‘Speeches are tricky, man. It’s like drum solos,'” McKay said. “‘They were awesome in the ’70s but…’” However, the decision ultimately paid off for Don’t Look Up as a finished product.

Leonardo DiCaprio rewrote the ‘biggest laugh in the movie’ 15 times

McKay wrote Don’t Look Up with a very intentional tone that clearly resonated with its big cast ensemble. DiCaprio previously told Vanity Fair that he considered McKay one of “the greatest comedic geniuses of our time.” McKay’s profile explains how Don’t Look Up is much more “full-frontal skewering” compared to more “implied” features, such as The Big Short and Vice.

“DiCaprio countered that they could undermine the speech for laughs, and so together they rewrote the speech 15 times,” the profile continued. “I think it’s the biggest laugh in the movie when I test screened it.” He didn’t expand much on the speech itself, so audiences will have to wait for the Don’t Look Up‘s release to see which scene he’s referring to.

Netflix allowed Adam McKay to go all out for ‘Don’t Look Up’

Don’t Look Up boasts one of the biggest ensemble casts of the year. Big Hollywood studios such as Sony, Universal, and Paramount were all interested in Don’t Look Up after McKay brought Jennifer Lawrence onboard. However, Netflix was the only company willing to put up the money for him to bring on his dream cast.

McKay’s ensemble includes DiCaprio, Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Cate Blanchett, and Meryl Streep. Don’t Look Up hits theaters Dec. 10 and then it will stream on Netflix starting Dec. 24.

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