Pretty much everyone agrees that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of the modern era – and it turns out he’s pretty good at improvising his own lines too. DiCaprio’s most recent movie was the 2021 disaster movie Don’t Look Up.
In the drama movie, the Oscar winning actor played Dr. Randall Mindy, an astronomer who helps to spot a huge comet that’s headed on a collision course to Earth. It was released on streaming service Netflix, and with its huge all-star cast, it ended up being one of the most watched movies of the year.
The satirical comedy movie received mixed reviews from both audiences and critics, who were split on the heavy-handed use of satire and political metaphors. However, most agreed that DiCaprio’s performance as the awkward, anxious professor capitulated to fame, was one of the highlights.
After the release of the Don’t Look Up its director Adam McKay spoke to Insider and revealed some interesting bits of trivia about the behind-the-scenes work on the movie. Among these is the news that DiCaprio himself was responsible for one of Don’t Look Up’s final lines. In the movie, before the comet strikes, DiCaprio’s character says the line “We really did have everything, didn’t we?” It’s a poignant moment, and one that will have stuck with many audiences.
Well, it turns out that it was improvised by DiCaprio during filming. Speaking about it, McKay said “Believe it or not, that line at the end of the movie where he says, “We really did have [everything, didn’t we?]” that wasn’t in the script. [DiCaprio] came [up] with that the day we were filming… In the edit, it was Leo who pushed us to put the line in.”
The director continued, reflecting on how he was still unsure about including the line. He said “The line was so devastating. We were trying to get the balance of that ending just right. You don’t want to traumatize the audience but you want it to hit them. So we didn’t have that line in, and this is nearing final cut. We don’t have much time left. And Leo was there and said, “Don’t you have to try that line? It really felt powerful when we did it.” I was afraid to use it and we put it just before a test screening and it just landed. So I thanked Leo for pushing me on that.”
McKay’s reveal about DiCaprio’s involvement is an interesting reminder of just how involved actors can get in the whole filmmaking process. And, in this instance, DiCaprio’s input seems to have reshaped the entire movie.
Of course, the fact that this emotive line came from DiCaprio actually makes a lot of sense because the movie is a metaphor for the impending threat of climate change, and climate change is an issue which DiCaprio is enormously passionate about. It just goes to show that passion goes a long way, especially in a creative process like making a movie.
That all got a bit heavy. To lighten the mood, check out our guide to the best superhero movies.