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INTERVIEW: Dr. Amy Mainzer Talks Don’t Look Up and Apocalyptic Science

The cast of Don't Look Up talking to the president

Don’t Look Up is the latest satire from Adam McKay and takes us on a journey through scientists trying to tell the world of an apocalyptic discovery. But, true to our own reality, none of the politicians in charge seem to really care because doing so won’t benefit them. It’s hard to watch, especially given that our own CDC just changed the quarantine policy for COVID so that people could go back to work sooner.

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I got to interview Dr. Amy Mainzer, who was the astronomy/science consultant on the film, about working with McKay on Don’t Look Up and what was interesting about essentially making up the science that led to the climax of the entire movie.

When I asked Dr. Mainzer about how working with McKay and those behind Don’t Look Up was, she expressed her happiness over the team clearly caring about the science behind the movie: “Fortunately, from my perspective, I thought that Adam had a huge amount of respect for the science. I mean, obviously this is a science fiction movie and it quickly veers into the realm of science fiction. We don’t know of any comet that’s heading at the Earth, full stop. Right? So right away we are. And that’s a very, very good thing.”

It also seems as if McKay and his team took Mainzer’s suggestions to heart when it came to understanding the fictionalized science they were working with. “I’m very happy to say that they really took all of my suggestions to heart,” Mainzer said, and it comes across beautifully in the film.

Don’t Look Up is interesting because the scientists are trying their best to get the truth out there regardless of what the government is doing. They go over their heads and share the information even though the president doesn’t want the information out there. Mainzer spoke about the reality in that situation and the real struggle to get the science to the public and the best way to do so.

“So the question is, what do you do, as a scientist? Do you get out there and protest in the street or do you try to get into a room with people policy-wise, who you may have profound disagreements with, to just have a seat at the table with those who are in power. What do you do?”

You can see our full interview with Dr. Amy Mainzer here:

Don’t Look Up is on Netflix now.

(image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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