Netflix Movie “Don’t Look Up” Prominently References Michigan State University
On Christmas Eve, Netflix released their heavily anticipated star-studded movie "Don't Look Up". It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching comet that will destroy Earth.
Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis, Tomer Sisley, Paul Guilfoyle, Robert Joy, Cate Blanchett, Gary Tanguay, and Meryl Streep round out the cast.
Michiganders will notice quickly the Michigan State University references throughout the movie, "Don't Look Up". Kate Dibiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrance is a Michigan State University astronomy PhD student doing work with the Subaru Telescope. She discovers a previously unknown near-Earth object. Her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio is a professor from MSU who calculates that the comet will impact Earth in about six months.
Writer-director Adam McKay is a fan of state universities. He told the Detroit News,
"I wanted to make a joke about the kind of 'status symbol' quality of an Ivy League degree, where you see people like George Bush and Jared Kushner, who are total dolts, go to Ivy League schools, or Trump constantly bragging about going to UPenn. Also, state school educations are some of the best educations you can get, and have been for decades."
"It's flattering to Michigan State."
After deciding he wanted DiCaprio and Lawrence's characters to be from a state school, McKay researched which have the best astronomy departments, "and Michigan State’s up there." His science advisor on the film, Dr. Amy Mainzer, agreed and vouched for the quality of MSU's astronomy department.
In the movie, Jonah Hill pokes fun of the Spartans and asks if Ivy leaguers could fact-check the work of the big 10 alums.
"I'm sorry, did you say Michigan State?" asks Jonah Hill's character, who plays the pampered son of the president and the White House chief of staff. "They have an excellent astronomy department," Hill's character is informed, to which he laughs and snorts a dismissive, "c'mon bro."
In another scene, Jennifer Lawrence is jogging on campus in an MSU sweatshirt. Later in the movie, we see DiCaprio's character hosting a dinner at his home in Lansing. Also, a Michigan State coffee mug is highlighted.
However, the film was not shot in Michigan. "Don’t Look Up" was primarily filmed in Massachusetts, in and around Boston and Weymouth. Washington, D.C was also used to film some scenes.
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