Q: How does an Economics major wind up in Don’t Look Up, an Oscar-nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence?
Robert Radochia: My mother forwarded me an email from a local casting company seeking actors for a role that matched my description. With the help of my father, I was able to submit a self-taped audition from the comfort of my home in Massachusetts. After a couple of weeks of eagerly waiting, I received news that I had landed the role.
Q: Don’t Look Up tells the story of two astronomers, Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence), who discover that a comet is on course to Earth and will cause a mass-extinction event. Many characters deny the truth, and a movement rallies around the slogan “Don’t Look Up.” Sounds like an allegory for those who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, that climate change is a hoax.
RR: The film alludes to several societal issues of our current time. I am grateful to be part of a film that carries such an important message. The reality of global issues like COVID-19 and climate change should not be politicized, and yet as a society, we somehow manage to leave factual information up for interpretation.
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic change the process of filmmaking for the actors, director and crew?
RR: The entire process, from auditioning to filming, was altered as a result of the pandemic. Instead of auditioning live in front of casting directors, I submitted a self-recorded tape of a scene to the casting company. After landing the role, I studied the remainder of my lines in a two-week quarantine period at a hotel in Boston. Once my filming period began, I rapid-tested each morning and waited in a trailer to receive the results. On set, actors were required to wear masks and face shields until the camera was rolling.
Q: You play Dr. Mindy’s son in the film. How did you make the character your own without having had access to the entire script?
RR: I was given some information about Leo’s character and the surplus of medication that my on-screen father uses to cope with his mental disorders. In one of my scenes it was revealed that, much like Dr. Mindy, Evan turns to medicine as a coping mechanism. On set, Adam McKay gave me plenty of freedom to play Evan however I saw fit. Though I did not have access to the entire script, I was able to get a feel for whom I was playing and the similarities between the protagonist and his son.
Q: This is the first major motion picture you’ve been in. How was the experience like you thought it would be, and how was it different?
RR: I am so grateful to have acted alongside such talented and kind people. As an actor with little experience, I could not have asked for a more inviting and supportive group of individuals to work with. I imagined that the opportunity would be far too overwhelming for me, but the cast and crew made me feel so comfortable.
Q: You went from the set of a $75 million film back to Conn’s campus. What has that adjustment been like?
RR: Being on a set like that was incredible. There are so many luxuries that I did not consider beforehand. Going from being served every meal to cooking ramen for two meals consecutively has brought me back to reality.
Q: How has the film altered the trajectory of your life, and how do you hope it will impact your career?
RR: The film has opened up several doors to new opportunities. I am working as a sales intern this summer but will be eager to audition for new roles at the same time. Since the movie, I have signed with a talent agency and plan to continue to explore the industry.