Earlier this week, a select group of journalists submitted questions before a virtual press conference over Zoom for Netflix’s new politically-charged dark comedy, Don’t Look Up. The impressive panel included Director Adam McKay, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry, and Kid Cudi. To our delight, moderator (and astronomer!) Amy Mainzer chose one of our questions that we had submitted for Tyler Perry! Hearing our outlet mentioned in front of this A-list talent and platform was honestly a surreal moment, and one that Allison and I will deeply cherish. Read on for our question with Tyler, as well as a select array of questions from the remainder of the conference.
Okay, so I’ve got one here from Josh at the Movies, for Tyler. In 2012, you co-hosted Live with Kelly when the show was in-between hosts. Did you use that experience in crafting your character, and any other talk show hosts or friends in the process? Who did you model your character after?
TYLER PERRY: Okay, as fun as that was in that moment, I actually made a couple phone calls to a couple of people who are on morning shows right now, that I admire. Joe Scarborough is one, and Michael Strahan is the other. So I actually sent them part of the script. I said, “Why don’t you read this and send it back to me on your iPhone? Just tape it.” And they did, and I was like, ‘okay, i got some bits here, I got some bits there.’ But those guys are professional journalists. I mean, this guy I played is not that. They were very helpful in pulling that off and helping me to pull that off.
ADAM MCKAY: Tyler is being very humble, by the way. The big trick with him and Cate Blanchett was they did have to have a real chemistry. It was so remarkable to see the two of you within five minutes. It was like you guys had been on a show together for 10 years.
TYLER: That happens when there’s sexual chemistry. She wants me.
ADAM: That was it.
TYLER: Yeah, she wants me. She wants me. That was obvious. That was-from day one, I’d say, ‘Oh, okay, I just have to flirt. I get it.’ She’s gonna kill me.
MERYL STREEP: Yeah, but she’s not here, so…
TYLER: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.
ADAM: She’s not here. It’s a good point.
TYLER: That’s right.
Aside from the question Tyler answered for us, there were a few others I felt represented the film very well.
As people who portrayed scientists in the movie, how do you hope that this movie changes the public’s perception of science and the people who practice science?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Well, obviously that they’re heard. Adam created this film, which was about the climate crisis, but he created a sense of urgency with it by making it about a comet that’s gonna hit Earth within six month’s time and how science has become politicized. There’s alternative facts. I was just thankful to play a character who is solely based on so many of the people that I’ve met from the scientific community, and in particular, climate scientists who’ve been trying to communicate the urgency of this issue. Feeling like they’re subjected to the last page on the newspaper.
There’s too many other things that we’re inundated with. I love the way he portrayed these two different characters. One that is incredibly outspoken, like a Greta Thunberg type of character in Jen’s, and mine that is trying to play within the system. But I also love the way he was just incredibly truthful about how we’re so immensely distracted from the truth nowadays. Of course, COVID hit, and there was a whole new scientific argument going on there. It’s such an important film to be a part of at this particular time.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE: I think Leo said it perfectly. I mean, it’s just so sad and frustrating to watch people who have dedicated their lives to learning the truth, be turned away because people don’t like what the truth has to say.
Another very serious question here from EstiloDF in México: who was the inspiration for Meryl’s character, and did you try to emulate anyone?
MERYL: My character? You know, there was so many places to take things from, because there’s so many preposterous people who’ve put themselves in public places recently. Shamelessly. It was kind of fun to put together this character that was in just pure id, just what her appetite wanted. About amassing power, money, more power, and more money, and that’s pretty much it… and nice hair and nails to top it off.
TYLER: And the Birkin.
KID CUDI: And amazing suits, yeah.
MERYL: Amazing suits. But no fellow feeling, and that’s unfortunately, that’s the cost of what being a public servant is now. You’d really have to make a big sacrifice. Your family makes a sacrifice, and you have to be willing to do that. It’s amazing that we get good people ever to do it. But we need them. We need them right now more than ever.
This is from PostMedia Canada, for Jen. How long did it take you to learn the lyrics to the Wu Tang song at the beginning?
JENNIFER: I keep meaning to tell you… only just recently, the song came back on my phone and I was like, “All right, it’s been enough time, I’ll listen to it.” It took a while, it took a couple weeks. Something happened with COVID where that ended up being my very first scene at work in the movie. It was horrifying, ’cause I’m in this huge hanger, and it’s so quiet. I don’t know anybody.
I had to rap Wu-Tang Clan. It was just horrendous. And then what’s in the movie is like, you know, five seconds. I really wish I had known that. If I could have foreseen what you would’ve used. Yeah it was the worst day of my life. It was very embarrassing.
ADAM: You did a good job though.
TYLER: Great job!
ADAM: You had it.
JENNIFER: Thank you.
ADAM: It’s the top of the movie.
JENNIFER: Hey, I knew my assignment. I did know every word, I still do. Dr. Doom prepare for the boom!
Let’s go to Jovem Nerd from Brazil for the group. In one scene, Leo’s character says that not everything has to be positive all the time. Is this a criticism of our current way of life, the way that we think, or our media right now? I mean how do you all feel about that?
ADAM: I think he says that line, he says not everything has to be charming or clever… not necessarily positive, but I do think there’s this demand. There’s so much money behind the media with advertising and clicks and apps that there has to be some engagement happening on some level, or people have to have a hot take or be clever.
We must have re-written that speech like 20 times, and it’s one of my favorite moments when you say that. Sometimes we just have to be able to say things to each other. That seems to be the basic line that’s been corrupted, that we profitize the very way that we speak to each other through social media, through phones, commercials, shows. You know, they know… It’s crazy to think about it. They don’t call it TV show or songs, they call it content.
It’s literally a word from a boardroom. That’s how much we’ve profitized the way we talk to each other. So yeah, I think sometimes you do just have to be able to hear things. There has to be a neutral playing field occasionally that is not brightly lit with sound effects and great-looking people that have high focus group test numbers. What Leo did with that speech was incredible. He just was tireless with that. We kept going back and back. Your sense on that speech was so spot-on that it was gonna be that moment. And you can feel the release.
MERYL: My favorite thing is that you think it’s over, and then it regenerates even bigger. It’s like, he’s goin’ on way too long on this. Way too long. It’s just undeniable. It’s so great.
ADAM: Do you guys feel like we’re so hungry for someone to express real emotion?
MERYL: Yes, we’re mad as hell.
MERYL: And we’re not gonna take it anymore.
ADAM: I mean, you just see these politician’s speeches in that same cadence every single time. Will someone be angry or afraid or sad? Like, you’re kind of missing it. It’s so satisfying when both you guys have your moments. It just feels like, I’m dying for that.
MERYL: Well, yes, I love Jen’s righteous anger. I mean it’s just—and her despair.
JENNIFER: You don’t have to compliment me just ’cause you guys complemented Leo.
MERYL: Oh, well I don’t like Leo, so I’m complimenting you.
ADAM: It’s all really compliments Meryl, so don’t worry about it.
JENNIFER: I really liked Meryl’s incompetence as a President.
MERYL: And my shoes.
MERYL: No, but it is a question. How do you make that penetrate? The thing about music, this song is so great. Because music goes in, it’s just in your head. You know?
MERYL: It’s not even something that’s at a distance now. We have it in here and carry it around. Kids carry it around.
Here’s a question from Pop Diaries Media in India. If there were hypothetically a comet or asteroid headed our way, what would be your most immediate action? What would you do if it were the last day on Earth?
KID CUDI: I think I would definitely try to get to my daughter wherever she’s at. Now of course you-I wanna see my mom, and my sister. But my daughter I gotta get to her, definitely.
TYLER: What I love is at one point in the movie there’s some people sitting around the table, and I think that that is just so powerful. I think that’s exactly what I would do, sit around the table with people that I love and care about, and have some wine, have a great meal. Give everybody cyanide right before it happens, and we’ll all just have good time.
KID CUDI: That’s a great plan. I’m comin’ to your house.
JONAH HILL: I think I would tweet… make sure that people knew the cool thoughts that I had to say… just opinions on different stuff like movies and stars… how stars live their lives and what they look like and who they are dating and stuff.
ADAM: That’s so different too, that would be cool to hear about that.
JONAH: I think people in their last moments would wanna read that.
JENNIFER: He’s not wrong. I’m my last moments I would die commenting on TikTok.
JONAH: I mean, it goes without saying for me, surfing, girlfriend, dog, family, love, all that matters. I also wanna give Jen Lawrence props because she’s my friend. Sometimes I don’t say how amazing and brilliant it was to watch her work. We joke around so much, but Jen you’re a boss.
TYLER: I agree. I agree. Even with that wig you were amazing.
MERYL: I loved that wig. I loved that look.
JENNIFER: Thank you, I did too.
ADAM: It was a really cool look.
JENNIFER: It was seamless. I put it on and I was like, there she is.
MERYL: There she is.
ADAM: Your clothes too were incredible. Did you keep some of those clothes?
JENNIFER: I did. Yeah.
KID CUDI: You didn’t keep the wig, right?
JENNIFER: I didn’t keep the wig. I don’t know where that thing is.
JONAH: Don’t you wanna know what Meryl would do if the world was ending? She is Meryl Streep, I’m kinda curious to know what…
MERYL: No, I’m sure I would just try to find my grandchildren and be with them. Yeah, my kids, they’ve had enough of me.
Don’t Look Up comes to Netflix on Friday, December 24th, and is currently playing now in limited theaters. Read our full review at the link!