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Leonardo DiCaprio On 9-Year Ticking Clock Climate Crisis — Q&A – Deadline

Leonardo DiCaprio On 9-Year Ticking Clock Climate Crisis — Q&A – Deadline

Leonardo DiCaprio On 9-Year Ticking Clock Climate Crisis — Q&A – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Perhaps there is no film on his list with narrative star vehicles that has subject matter so close and dear to his heart. Leonardo DiCaprioAs Don’t Look UpThe star-studded Adam McKay-directed Netflixsatire that substitutes for the toll that climate crisis is taking on our planet.

Since his Oscar-winning performance in The RevenantDiCaprio has done in person Deadline interviews for all his award-season films. This one was done via phone thanks to Omicron. Here DiCaprio analyzed everything from awards season and moviegoing in the age Covid. And yes, global warming is a real danger for those who missed the symbolism.

DEADLINE: Compare this awards season to ones you’ve been part of for most of your films. 

LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Well, it’s been a lot more efficient and a lot easier in a lot of ways. The public relations aspect of traveling was stopped. We did a little bit…we did a premiere in New York and that got shut down because Omicron was rising. But we all got together to celebrate and watched the movie in an audience. I got to tell you, being able to watch these movies in the theater, there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing quite like it.

DEADLINE:When will this all go back to normal?

DICAPRIO: Without making a giant stance on all this, there’s obviously pros and cons to both. The pros are that I think there are many interesting ideas being funded from both the documentary and limited series perspectives. On the other hand, how many people go to the cinema to see major franchise films is a different story. That is very questionable for the future and I’m a huge advocate for having that communal audience experience. It is an art form at the end of the day, and to be able to walk, have that energy, and feel like you do when you’re going into a dark theater and possibly having a completely unique experience and then have that focus on a story for two-plus hours, is irreplaceable.

So, I have mixed feelings, but it certainly seems to be trending in the direction of, major studio tentpole films being able to last theatrically and like I said, the flipside is, there’s a lot more interesting things getting financed, that probably 10 or 15 years ago wouldn’t get financed.

DEADLINE:You climb up the ranks to become one the most successful box office stars in the entire world. Don’t Look UpNetflix and reunited again with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Robert De Niro Killers of the Flower MoonBoth for streamers. More evidence that the world has turned upside down?

DICAPRIO: Well, Killers may still have a theatrical release, we’re still hoping for that. As much as possible, I want to make films that I and others can see in a theater. I would love to still be able achieve a part of that whenever possible. That is much harder with some films right now.

DEADLINE: Do you have any ideas about how this will play out?

DICAPRIO: There’s going to be a combination, I think. People will continue to want to see films they find interesting and engaging.I don’t think that’s ever going to go away. I don’t think the theatrical experience is ever going to go away. It’s just going to be different.

DEADLINE: I Adam was interviewed before Don’t Look Up came out, and while he said that he’d been talking to you for a while, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry all committed before you did. Now, the way it usually goes is, okay, if you’ve got Leonardo, you got a movie and you cast around him. What were your thoughts while this was happening to you?

DICAPRIO: There were other films that were competing with it. But I’d always wanted to do a film about this subject matter. It is extremely difficult to cover the subject matter about climate crises in a 2-, 3-hour format. It’s something like a slow, deadly roll, as far as ramifications of climate to the environment. I felt like Adam had cracked the code by imagining it becoming a comet and having society and the media make it a partisan matter.

It was late because we wanted to make sure we had developed the character correctly and that we worked on our story, which he was so open to. We spent a lot of time working on Dr. Mindy’s story structure and design. Then, you think to yourself, “My God, this is so insane for the worldwide population to be collectively experiencing the same thing.” This is because microscopic germs are infecting the entire world population. We’re all feeling the same thing at the same time, and it just dawned on me, this is just so timely and such a lightning rod of an issue.

I was a huge Adam McKay snob and working with that cast was a unique experience. I don’t think there have been many movies about this subject matter like this one. I was thinking of The Great Dictator. You are aware The Great Dictator?

DEADLINE: The 1940 film Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in that was a thinly veiled metaphor of the rise of Hitler and Nazism before WWII…

DICAPRIO: Yes. There are also Network Dr. Strangelove. There’s very few movies that really communicate a shared worldwide anxiety and experience like this, so I jumped on board in the height of Covid to do this movie and it was an incredible experience. It was amazing to be able to see so many things unfold in real-time. I just remember us being at that Bubba Gump-like Bojo Mambo’s Shrimp thing. Where I explained the science of what’s going to happen, what the president’s going to do, and then Jen’s character stands up and starts this riot. When we were literally hearing that that they’d stormed the Capitol! It was crazy to see real life unfold. Even though our script was dark satire, it was amazing to feel the real-time ramifications from Covid’s actions while we were making this movie.

DEADLINE: A foundation was established a long time ago to address environmental and global warming issues. You’ve produced, narrated a lot of documentaries on global warming. When you were working on story with Adam, how much were you cognizant that hitting your passion issue too much on the head might polarize a partisan audience that thinks you’re making fun of them? There are some similarities with the Trump administration.

DICAPRIOAdam deserves all the credit for this. I tend to urge…I mean, I’m a big sort of biotech kind of guy, so I like to look at real life and history and what’s really happening. So, there were even points sort of like, okay, we’re talking about worldwide catastrophic events in this lighthouse scene. Do we need to mention climate change? Adam was a firm believer in not ramming people with this issue. I will stick to the parable about the comet and show both sides of science’s politicization. I have had many of these documentaries and experienced the frustrations of the scientific community. I also met many outstanding climate scientists that were not covered in the media. Who didn’t know how to navigate situations in which they are trying to articulate their expertise about the climate crisis, and then being put in a situation where they are, then, arguing the politics of it all.

And that’s what the fossil fuel industry has done so well. They’ve made what is 99 percent of the scientific community basically have to argue both sides of what is essentially fact. This man is contributing to the increase in global temperatures by releasing carbon. It was the thing that I was most excited about.

DEADLINE: Your character’s journey is quite interesting. You go from being a married scientist studying gases on dead planets, to becoming the Dr. Fauci-like face for the comet crisis. Then, you are embraced by social media as a sex symbol and can be seen cavorting with your co-host. [Cate Blanchett]The Rip is a popular morning show that depicts the lives of celebrities. All this while he watches six months ticking down to what he knows will end in a devastating collision with Earth. What was the most challenging and palatable part of Dr. Randall Mindy?

DICAPRIO: This was all hard to navigate. As opposed to Jen’s character [PhD candidate and comet discoverer Kate Dibiasky]Greta Thunberg, who is outspoken, radical, is here, being put in a position where he is now being used to be the government expert and the figurehead for science in connection to the White House. He loses his way. In a lot of ways, he becomes subject to, social media and the attention that he’s getting. He also loses his identity in all this, trying to fit into the system and working with the powers that are. And then, at some point, he realizes that they’re completely disconnected and he gets to a place of peace with the fact that, it’s out of his hands. Adam didn’t make both of these characters similar in that way and I just love that juxtaposition that he gave with both of them.

DEADLINE – Adam said that the scene where Jennifer Lawrence and Rob Morgan were in the oval with Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill and Jonah Hill lasted 16 minutes. It was full improvisation. How comfortable are your improvisations with Jonah Hill?

DICAPRIO: Jonan, I did. Wolf of Wall Street together, so I was heavily prepared…maybe not prepared, but heavily familiar with the genius of Jonah’s improvisational skills. Our characters had to go much more by the book, whereas Meryl’s character and Jonah’s character could literally, you know, take the scene in any direction that they wanted to. Our job was to keep it on track, relaying science and the urgency of each situation. Those were some of my favorite memories. Often, we’d spend a whole day just running one joke to see where it landed. That’s the brilliance of Jonah’s comedic talent, and Meryl was right there to match him, which was so amazing to watch. What was so interesting from an actor’s perspective was watching Meryl come in and Mark Rylance come in, Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry, all come in with very little prep time and rehearsal. They’re literally thrown into a set where actors have established their characters and where everyone around them has these facemasks on, and hazmat suits, and we all just had to roll with it.

It gave each scene an incredible spontaneity and was a lot fun. But that’s not all. WolfJonah and I did a lot of improvisation, but this was for me different. Randall did have a few moments of his own in those lighthouse sequences. Jen, however, had a clear path of what to do. That was to keep the urgency of the matter in mind and get it back to track.

DEADLINE: Were you channeling the spirit of Howard Beale’s “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” speech from Network in your character’s final appearance on the talk show that had turned him into a killer comet appeaser?

DICAPRIO: Yeah. There are some scenes that are always lightning-rod, while others that you just have to kind of naturally act with as an actor. Every movie has some scenes that I find myself obsessive about. Amy Mainzer, our Astronomer Advisor, was so wonderful to me. She helped me channel frustrations that scientists feel in a really profound and powerful way. It was a topic that we must have had around 40 conversations about. She’s an astronomer but she’s also a climate advocate. Most astronomers are; they study outer space, but they’re incredibly concerned with what we’re doing to the atmosphere here.

Adam, her and I worked together to create a moment of lightning that I felt was the turning point for both my character and the movie. The frustration that comes with trying to get a message across, and everything becoming a situation where there are alternative facts. Climate scientists feel this all of the time. The answer is yes. NetworkThat was a great inspiration. And something really took over that day and I tried to feel the passion that so many of these scientists feel about what we’re doing to planet Earth. That was it. That must have been rewritten 40 times, God.

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DEADLINE: Why?

DICAPRIOIt was a lot of like trying to establish the science, then trying to talk about the mistakes made by the administration. Adam saw it as a mixture of the difference between relaying science and bringing people to it. In a lot of ways, it was my character’s mental breakdown and the realization that he’d taken the wrong path. It was difficult to work with Adam to bring humanity to the situation. It was the day he shot it. We had five to six television cameras, and we tried four different setups to get the right tone. It was a pretty emotionally exhausting day, but I’m so happy we worked on it that much.

DEADLINE: Your Oscar win speech was cool, calm, and collected. The Revenantto the climate crisis. At the risk that you are exhausted, take a moment and channel Howard Beale. Tell me where we are now and what your biggest frustrations with combating climate change. What should the next step be for the millions of people who have watched the movie on Netflix?

DICAPRIO: I’ve had two great passions in my life. Those passions were acting and protecting the natural world. I also wanted to spread the word about the climate crisis. I’ve had a foundation for 20 years. I was able to visit Glasgow. I was able see world leaders make significant commitments. However, it is like the movie, there is always a ticking clock. I think there’s a worldwide sense of anxiety about the fact that the powers that be, the private sector, governments, are not making the transition fast enough. We have a nine-year window.

As far as the urgency of this matter is concerned, this movie isn’t too far off. I believe that much of this has been obscured by fake scientists hired by oil firms back in Exxon’s time to try to hide and distract from evidence about the effects of too much carbon in the atmosphere.

It was also possible for consumers and individuals to recycle and purchase hybrid cars. These changes are very important. But when you really start to break this issue down, there are 100 companies which are producing 70 percent of the world’s emissions. There are huge industries that pollute our atmosphere. It is up to the private sector to do more. Our governments, all governments in the world, need each other as one species. We need to evolve as a species in order to tackle this problem.

And the main thing that it boils down to is, if you’re an individual, you, A, have to get involved. Vote for scientists who care about this issue. And we should not have any elected leaders, on a state level, on a city level, or a national level that don’t listen to science, especially in this country. Per capita, we are the most polluting country in the world. Scientists have known this for decades. We need to set an example for others. We’re an incredibly rich nation and we need to make this transition. We’re all crossing our fingers that Biden can make one of the more substantial plans to at least implement renewables. So, vote. Vote to elect people who are healthy.

DEADLINE:Last one. It’s nine years. What happens if it is worse or the same by then?

DICAPRIO: I always say this when I’ve spoken to scientists, but the warming leads to more warming. If we reach this 1.5-degree threshold, where we hit that certain point in nature, there’s all kinds of lightning-rod points with methane and the tundra and warming of our oceans, the acidification of our oceans. Most of the carbon that we’ve emitted to the atmosphere, now has been absorbed by the oceans. We’re not even feeling the real impact of climate change yet and our oceans are now warming at record levels. Each year is getting hotter than the next, and that doesn’t stop. We’re not going to see that stop. So, to mitigate the climate crises, I mean, it is, don’t look up.

We’re really at that point of having to take major action as if it was World War II. A lot of people will tell you that technology will handle this. Well, we’re running out time. We have the answers with renewables, and ways to make this transition. But the private sector and governments around the world must work together. And we, the people, need to make this…rather than it being number six or seven or eight on the list of priorities when it comes to elections, it’s got to be in the top two. It is essentially this: Warming leads to more heating. It ain’t going to get any better. It will only get worse.

DEADLINE:The nine years you cite are the time before irreparable damage?

DICAPRIO: When we reach a threshold where the thawing of the ice and the tundra and Greenland and the arctic starts to release even more carbon…we’re already seeing it happen. That’s why this movie is so important. It really comes down to the question of media priorities. I think that’s why this movie has been controversial and a lightning-rod show. Some people knew how to react to it, some didn’t, but I’ll tell you one thing. I’m very proud that it’s creating a conversation. The movie is being viewed all over the globe, and there is anxiety in the world about this issue. Who knows if a film can ever change anything ultimately, but I’m certainly proud to be a part of a piece of art like this. Jen Lawrence in the movie says that we tried.



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