'Get Out' Director Jordan Peele: 'I Wanted to Challenge Anybody Who Feels like They Are Not Racist'

By Wyche, Elbert | Screen International, December 6, 2017 | Go to article overview

'Get Out' Director Jordan Peele: 'I Wanted to Challenge Anybody Who Feels like They Are Not Racist'


Wyche, Elbert, Screen International


Is the indie horror smash that grossed more than $250m on the road to Oscar glory?

Jordan Peele directing ‘Get Out’

When Jordan Peele set about making the darkly satirical horror film Get Out, the road to Oscar glory was the last thing on the debut feature director’s mind. After all, Academy voters hardly have a history of showering genre titles with affection - even the groundbreaking The Blair Witch Project (1999) failed to net a single nomination.

But caught up in the annual awards hoopla is exactly where Peele finds himself after helming the film, which centres on a young African-American man who visits his white girlfriend’s family with horrifying results. The genre-bending feature scored five nominations and three wins (for screenplay, breakthrough director and audience award) at the Gothams and was named best directorial debut and best ensemble by the National Board of Review.

When Peele embarked on this unlikely journey, he was still known primarily as one half of comedy sketch duo Key and Peele, whose eponymous show aired for five seasons on Comedy Central. His debut feature as a screenwriter, Keanu, co-written with Alex Rubens, grossed a so-so $21m at US cinemas, and was negligible in foreign territories. With Get Out, Peele’s first task was discovering what the core idea of the film would be - what the filmmaker calls the “driving engine”. “I felt like the fear of being the outsider, the fear of unwanted attention, and ultimately the fear of race, or racial dynamics, is universal, but I haven’t really seen that in a film before,” he explains.

When it came to casting the leads, Peele zeroed in on UK actor Daniel Kaluuya - an alumnus of UK TV show Skins - and Girls’ Allison Williams. “You need people who are at a point in their career where the associations with that person help support your vision, as opposed to detract,” says Peele. “[Chris and Rose] are the two roles that if they are one note wrong the entire movie doesn’t work.”

Casting Kaluuya and Williams allowed Peele to delve further into the story. …

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