Cate Blanchett explains the importance of her character in Don’t Look Up. The satirical sci-fi film from director Adam McKay released on Netflix on December 24 after enjoying a limited theatrical run and became a hit for the streaming service, setting a record for the most viewing hours over a one-week period. This high volume has yielded mixed reviews from both critics and audiences, however, resulting in some tense debate online.
Don’t Look Up centers on two astronomers, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence’s Kate Dibiasky, who discover a comet on a collision course with Earth and are met with surprising resistance when they attempt to warn the public of the coming disaster. As part of a star-studded supporting cast of satirical targets, Blanchett plays Brie Evantee, co-host with Tyler Perry’s Jack Bremmer of a popular morning talk show called The Daily Rip. Kate and Dr. Mindy resolve to reveal their findings on the show after being rebuffed by the US President, played by Meryl Streep, and when Dr. Mindy proves more camera-ready, he ends up becoming a frequent guest on the program.
Now, while being interviewed for Variety‘s Awards Circuit podcast, Blanchett explains the importance of her character to the overall mission of Don’t Look Up. Dr. Mindy ends up having an affair with Brie in the film, despite the stark differences between them that are often played for comedy, which Blanchett identifies as the most significant way she serves the story. Through Brie, the actor says, the audience sees how far the media attention received by DiCaprio’s character has pushed him away from who he really is. Check out Blanchett’s full quote below:
You have to say, ‘What’s your function?’ So, that was my first kind of port of call, and, you know, obviously in Don’t Look Up it’s to express just how far Leo’s character, Randall, has gone from the epicenter of who he is, that he’s ended up with someone like my character.
Dr. Mindy’s affair with Brie is certainly a turning point for the character, as his infatuation with his sudden celebrity causes him to stray from his central mission of bringing about a response to the comet emergency. Though he chooses to stay with Blanchett’s talk show host once his wife June (Melanie Lynskey) discovers them, the two eventually separate, and Dr. Mindy manages to return to his family before the planet is destroyed. This arc ends up becoming more poignant, as Dr. Mindy’s last line, improvised by DiCaprio, serves as both a commentary on his infidelities and humanity’s lack of response to the crisis that allegorically represents climate change.
While fans of Don’t Look Up will see Blanchett’s comment as a positive, noting its focus on character development, the film’s detractors could argue that McKay places too much focus on the characters as people, rather than as representations of certain types or institutions. To achieve its goal of satirizing society’s response to climate change, Brie could have been a more targeted representation of the media, and putting so much emphasis on her as an individual could be seen as undermining that intention. Debate on that issue will likely continue as Don’t Look Up positions itself as a major awards contender that should remain in the headlines for the next couple of months.
Next: Why Adam McKay’s Satires Are Getting Less Subtle (On Purpose)
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