'Don't Look Up' Director Recalls 'Constantly Tweaking' Movie's Ending: 'Did We Go Too Far?'

The process of perfecting the film's "triple ending" was "constantly tweaking, tweaking, tweaking," and plagued director Adam McKay with many questions

dont look up
Photo: netflix

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Netflix's Don't Look Up, now streaming.

The desire to shy away from traditional Hollywood "happy endings" is what Don't Look Up director Adam McKay said inspired him to concoct an innovative "triple ending" to the four-time Golden Globe-nominated Netflix disaster-comedy.

In an interview with Variety, McKay told the outlet that he wanted to "break that traditional three-act Hollywood thing that we know so well." He added, "There could be something powerful about just not having that."

The movie revolves around the impending end of the world, in which Michigan State astronomy grad student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a new, yet deadly comet heading toward Earth, with a nearly 100% probability of wiping out the planet within six months.

Professor Dr. Randall Mindy (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), Dibiasky and NASA's Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan) try to convince President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her chief of staff son Jason (Jonah Hill) of the catastrophic-level event, who instead try to capitalize on the disaster alongside billionaire tech mogul Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance).

The movie ends with the comet decimating the Earth, and viewers are spoiled with a trio of endings to the star-studded movie – the first in which Randall, Kate and her boyfriend Yule (Timothée Chalamet), along with Teddy, gather for a family dinner at the Mindy's house. As everyone around the dinner table reminisces about the good times, a choked-up Randall says, "The thing of it is we really - we really did have everything, didn't we? I mean, if you think about it," an emotional line which McKay revealed almost didn't make the cut.

"We were so afraid of it in the edit room, because it just whacked us so hard," McKay admitted. "We didn't even have it in the cut for a while. And then toward the end, we were like, 'You know what? We've gotta try that line.'"

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"And it was just the gut-punch of all gut punches," he added.

The dinner scene also went through numerous rounds of "tweaking," with the ending originally cutting to black.

But, under the direction of VFX supervisor Raymond Gieringer, after seeing a "VFX technique of a wall-like rolling through a room," McKay decided, "'Wow, that is powerful. I think we've got to try that!"

He revealed, "That's how we got the shot behind Rob Morgan's character of the wall coming apart, the window breaking behind Leo, the kitchen shattering behind Jen."

The process of perfecting the triple ending was "constantly tweaking, tweaking, tweaking," and plagued McKay with questions.

"How much of the world you show?" McKay asked. "What do you do with that music? How far do you go? Are we going too far? We want to feel sad, but we don't want to be traumatized. Like, I want to tear up, but I don't want to, you know — sob uncontrollably!"

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The fate of Meryl Streep's character is sealed during the mid-credits scene when she's killed by a "brontaroc" some 22,000 years later after she, Isherwell, and a group of wealthy individuals escape their spaceship's cryo chambers after landing on a new planet.

"Does it mean everyone on every one of the ships gets eaten by brontarocs?" McKay asked himself during the Variety interview. "Actually, yeah. I think it does."

In the third and final end-credits scene, President Orlean's son Jason appears to be the sole survivor of the catastrophe, after she ditches him for the cryo chamber.

McKay said, "What if Jason Orlean, who you could argue is maybe it's the most despicable character in the movie — what if he's the last guy on Earth?"

RELATED VIDEO: Jonah Hill and Girlfriend Sarah Brady Match in Light Blue Gucci Suits at Don't Look Up Premiere

In the scene, Jason pops out from under the rubble after the comet hits, and films a selfie video saying, "What's up, ya'll? I'm the last man on Earth. S---'s all f----- up. Don't forget to like and subscribe. We out here," before calling out, "Mom!"

The hilarious ending was shot in one take, McKay explained, "And then Jonah improvised the beat about 'Like and subscribe, I'm the last man on Earth!'"

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"I like little scenes at the end of the credits," he admitted, though it's not always appropriate he said, "with a movie like this — that's a blend of broad comedy with a disaster and horror — I thought it was kind of perfect."

Don't Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.

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