In Don’t Look Up, the new political satire that began streaming on Netflix this week, an astronomer discovers the asteroid that will destroy the planet while she is drinking tea, eating toast, and rapping along to the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s an appropriate way for writer/director Adam McKay to open his film, which will flirt with the line between wildly dark and wildly absurd for the next two hours and change.
But in order to nail that opening scene, actor Jennifer Lawrence—who stars as Kate Dibiasky, an astronomy grad student who discovers a comet on a collision course with Earth—needed to memorize Wu Tang’s “Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit.” She did, of course, because she’s a professional.
While speaking at the Don’t Look Up virtual press conference on December 5, Lawrence recalled the memorization process took “a couple of weeks.” But performing the song on the set, in front of McKay and the entire film crew, was another matter entirely. It’s not exactly a memory that Lawrence looks back on fondly.
“Because something happened with COVID, that ended up being my very first scene,” Lawrence said at the press conference. “It was horrifying, because I’m in this huge hanger, and it’s so quiet. And I don’t know anybody, and I had to rap Wu-Tang Clan. It was just horrendous. And then what’s in the movie is like, five seconds. I really wish I had known that.” That day on set was, Lawrence concluded, “the worst day of my life.”
Hey, I knew my assignment,” Lawrence replied. “I did know every word, I still do.” (At this point, she started to rap the song, to prove it.)
That moment wasn’t the only fun McKay had with music in Don’t Look Up. Musicians Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi— who play a fictional pop star and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, respectively—perform a new original satirical song, “Just Look Up.” The lyrics include the pointed line, “Listen to the goddamn qualified scientists,” which feels particularly appropriate right about now.
You can hear the full song in all of its ridiculous glory on Youtube, and you can catch the entirety of Don’t Look Up now streaming on Netflix.