If you've seen Adam McKay's Don't Look Up, you know that Meryl Streep really got the chance to flex her comedic skills throughout the film, but you may not know how much of her role came from her own improv skills. Recently, McKay revealed that Streep even improvised her character's own ending. Now, Netflix has released a short featurette on another moment where Streep took the opportunity to play around with her character. In the short featurette, McKay reveals that when shooting the Oval Office scene, Streep improvised a new phone conversation that her character was ending at the beginning of every single take of the scene. "It was kind of a tour de force of improv that I have never seen before," shares McKay, "because I am not exaggerating. She did twenty to twenty-five completely different absurd phone calls."
Streep's chaotic president in Don't Look Up is a gender-bent parody of Donald Trump, so each phone call is a different level of off-color as Streep humorously thinks of more and more ridiculous things to overhear someone of such high esteem say on the phone. "You know my son is older than you," she jests in one call, insinuating a scandalous flirtation with the person on the other end. In other takes, Streep implies that someone her character slept with has just gotten positive STD results back, shares her hot takes on breast implants, and complains about her 'rare' steak being too bloody after clearing out an entire restaurant.
McKay talks about his own experience with improv sharing that he "improvised in Chicago for five or six years," but that he was absolutely blown away with Streep's skills. "I told Jonah, I don't think I could do that, I don't think I could do twenty or twenty-five of them. I could do six or seven. She didn't repeat any. It was breathtaking." Streep is one of the greatest actors of our time, and seeing her get to do fun things like improvising half of her best work on Don't Look Up really adds to the staying power she's had for decades. She's been most celebrated for her dramatic performances, but her comedic roles are not to be overlooked.
Don't Look Up is a bit on the nose, but the film's humor and bluntness combined with it's sometimes jarring editing are part of what make it's message so powerful. The film has a stacked cast starring Streep alongside Jonah Hill, Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Pearlman, Himesh Patel, and Ariana Grande.
Don't Look Up is streaming exclusively on Netflix now. Check out the outtakes of Streep's improvisations below:
Chalamet apparently wanted to look like a Tiger King in Adam McKay's latest.