Director Adam McKay’s Netflix film “Don’t Look Up,” which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance and more A-listers, made a splash last winter for how the dark, political comedy eerily mirrored real life. The film tackled issues of climate change and media misinformation, and one fictional tech billionaire character hit even closer to home after Elon Musk and Twitter agreed to a $44 billion deal on Monday.
“It’s dangerous,” Blanchett told Variety about Musk’s Twitter takeover, at the Chaplin Award Gala in New York on Monday. “That’s all I have to say, it’s very, very dangerous.”
Rylance’s character, Peter Isherwell, an eccentric tech CEO who profits off a comet hurtling toward Earth, was based partly on Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. In “Don’t Look Up,” the comet becomes a politicized and misinformed issue, as Isherwell helps spin the catastrophe into a cash-grab and job-creating scheme that picks up widespread support. After Musk’s shocking Twitter deal, the “Don’t Look Up” character seems even more ripped from the headlines.
“I think the future is often imagined in the mind of the artist,” Blanchett told Variety. “Adam wrote this well and truly pre-pandemic. It was really interesting to see how much meaning an audience brings to a work. If the audience viewed the same script, the same story performed in exactly the same way, pre-pandemic, it would’ve been a very different response to the takeaway than the audience has now. That speaks to the power of the zeitgeist and the times in which we live.”
In “Don’t Look Up,” Blanchett played a talk-show host who dismissed the urgency of the comet disaster live on air. Earlier this month, a “Good Morning Britain” interview went viral after the TV anchor downplayed a climate activist’s serious concerns about the world’s growing oil use.
The Oscar best picture-nominated film was one of many on display at the 47th Chaplin Award Gala, where Blanchett was being honored. The two-time Academy Award winner became the second-youngest recipient of the Chaplin Award. Past honorees include Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Streep, Tom Hanks and other film icons.
The Lincoln Center celebration included several montages of Blanchett’s work, including “Blue Jasmine,” “The Aviator,” “Carol,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Nightmare Alley” and more. There were also video tributes from some of her directors and collaborators, like Martin Scorsese, Hugh Jackman, Richard Linklater and James Gray.
However, the celebration was not without a few hitches; presenters Todd Haynes and Bradley Cooper were unable to attend, as planned. Haynes, who directed Blanchett in “Carol,” tested positive for COVID on Monday morning, and Cooper, her “Nightmare Alley” co-star, was “not feeling well,” Film at Lincoln Center chair Dan Stern announced at the beginning of the ceremony. Blanchett was quick to poke fun at Cooper’s absence.
“There’s a few empty seats there; there’s a few people who either didn’t want to come up and said they had COVID or actually really had COVID — Bradley!” Blanchett joked. During her acceptance speech, she went after her co-star again. “I want to thank all those people who’ve been paid to say such wonderful things about me this evening. And to all of those who offered to be here, but couldn’t due to contracting COVID — rest up — or laziness, whatever.”