Ariana Grande Improvised Her Funniest Lines In 'Don't Look Up'

By Emily Lee

December 30, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

Netflix's latest film Don't Look Up features what seems like every major star in Hollywood. While the film is headlined by Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Jonah Hill, the supporting cast might be even more impressive. Not only do Timothee Chalamet and Cate Blanchet have supporting roles, but so do two of music's biggest stars—Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi.

Grande and Cudi star as pop stars Riley Bina and DJ Chello, respectively, in the film, which details the months before a giant comet is predicted to crash into Earth. The 'thank u, next' singer opened up about taking on such a meta role in the movie while chatting with Looper.

"Adam's one of my comedy heroes, and I was jumping out of my skin when he pitched me the idea of playing this pop star who's kind of in this yucky tabloid frenzy," she gushed. "Playing this little part and getting to work with Adam and this beyond incredible cast was such a special experience."

The film's director, Adam McKay, was equally as excited to bring Grande on board. "It made sense to have the biggest pop star in the world play the biggest pop star in the world," he told the outlet. "The thing people tend to forget is that Ariana Grande is also a professional actress. We got her on set for her first scene with Leo and Jen, and she's improvising lines. I knew she'd nail the song, but I didn't know she could improvise in scenes."

"She's funny. ... She gets it. [Grande's] best improv was when she sang the song for the first time," McKay continued. "She's the one who added all that stuff at the end about [how] we're all going to die. 'Turn off that s***box news,' you know, 'it's really coming.' That was her riffing on the first scratch track of the melody line that Nick Britell brought her. And the second I heard it, I was like, 'Oh, that's going in the movie.'"

"You pretty much have the biggest pop star in the world singing beautifully we're all going to die," the director said. "Every time I see it, it's just this hilarious cognitive dissonance with it."

As McKay mentioned, Grande not only improvised her funniest lines while acting in her scenes but also many of the lyrics for the original song 'Just Look Up.' Composer Nicholas Britell revealed what it was like working with Grande in the studio. "In my first studio session with Ari, I played her the chords, and 30 seconds later, she was in the booth laying some stuff down — just improvising because we didn't have any lyrics at the time — and we basically had the song right there," he recalled.

"It was crazy," Britell continued. "She has such a profound musical sensibility and a facility, to say nothing of the incredible musicianship of her voice. The thing that really was remarkable to me was the immediacy of her ability to capture the feeling of the song and execute it."

"I thought Nick was going to take little bits and pieces of the idea and paste little pieces of it together," Grande said of ad-libbed lyrics. "but he actually ended up using almost the whole first take in its entirety. I was so surprised and just so thrilled that he liked it that much!"

Lawrence spoke about working with the two music stars on the film, as well. "I’m a huge fan of her music and his," she said. "It’s just like, you know, like overwhelming. ‘Cause our worlds don’t normally collide."

The Oscar winner, who is currently pregnant with her first child with husband Cooke Maroney, joked: "I just felt like a radio contest winner. I just didn’t know how to talk to her. So I just, you know, did my best."

Don't Look Up is now streaming on Netflix.

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