Astronomer Amy Mainzer on Netflix's Don't Look Up

DJE: Tell me a little about the film. It looks like it’s going to be delightful.

AM: It’s a comedy. It’s about a serious topic, but at the same time, it’s meant to make us think about how we deal with serious problems in society. I hope it’ll make people laugh and think and feel a bunch of different emotions. I really enjoyed working on it. It’s a really talented team of people.

DJE: We’ve had lots of dreary, over-the-top sci-fi movies about asteroids or comets crashing into Earth and killing us all. This one looks like much more fun.

AM: It’s definitely a science fiction movie, so of course there are places where the story diverges from reality. And that’s a good thing. We don’t know of any asteroids or comets that are on a collision course with Earth. That’s the great news. But the team here did try to make a great effort to portray science accurately. The process of discovering the objects, how scientists think, how we try to communicate with the public, and so on. Science is a very human process.

DJE: Tell me a little bit about the cast. This is a Netflix film and it has what some might call an all-star cast.

AM: The cast was fantastic to work with. These are some really seasoned, professional actors. I spent a lot of time talking to the cast members about their characters, helping them get familiar with how scientists think, and how this particular line of science works. What would we do if we made such a discovery? One of the most wonderful things about working with this group of people is that they are all people who are really, deeply interested in science. They really wanted to portray the science community in an accurate way.

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