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Jordan Peele talks Get Out, horror inspirations & Get Out sequel [Exclusive]

02.22.2017by: Eric Walkuski

Get Out Jordan Peele Interview Allison Williams horror movie

For three years, Jordan Peele - along with his partner-in-crime Keegan-Michael Key - managed to find pointed humor within America's complicated race relations in the sublime Comedy Central series Key & Peele. Now, he's finding the horror.

Not that you have to dig very deep to get to the scary parts when you examine the legacy of racism in this country, but Peele's directorial debut GET OUT finds freaky new notes that are at once socially relevant and flat-out terrifying. Who could have guessed that one of the most intriguing emerging voices in the horror genre is a man known for his sketch comedy and a movie about a kidnapped kitten? Not I, but I'm not complaining. GET OUT is one of the most entertaining thrillers I've seen in years, and Peele shows he's a natural when it comes to playing the audience like a piano, to quote the great Mr. Hitchcock.

The film is about an African-American man's (Daniel Kaluuya) increasingly tense experience visiting the home of his girlfriend's (Allison Williams) "liberal" parents. To reveal too much about the premise would be a damn crime, but let's say GET OUT might set the new standard for awkward "meet the parents" scenarios.

As a genuine fan of his comedy work and now his startling first feature, it was a pleasure to find out what makes Peele tick. Balancing making a fun popcorn flick while also delivering a message, the films that served as inspirations, his future in the genre and what chances there are we'll get a GET OUT sequel are all discussed in the interview below. Enjoy!

Get Out Jordan Peele Interview Allison Williams horror movie

I loved this movie. I saw it with a great crowd and I think it's going to be a very popular audience-participation experience.

That's the idea. Give the people what they want. They didn't know they wanted it, but they're going to get it.

How long have you been a genre movie fan? What were the films that made you interested in horror?

Growing up, it was The Fly, Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween. Hitchock, The Birds. I'm a real horror geek.

How long has GET OUT been in the works? Did you have any trouble convincing people to give you a chance on making a thriller?

I didn't think this was a movie that was ever going to get made, which actually gave me the confidence to write it. I knew I could just sit down and just write a movie that would be the most fun movie for me to write. The idea was to find my voice and become a better writer, and it's very liberating to not feel like you have to sell this thing. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I pitched it, relatively off-handedly, and QC Entertainment pounced. And Blumhouse, I was very lucky to have Blumhouse find it shortly after.

Get Out Jordan Peele Interview Allison Williams horror movie

Blumhouse has a reputation for being very director-friendly. Did you find that you were able to do whatever you wanted?

Yeah, I really did. It was a really great experience because of that. They correctly know that the best horror is auteur-driven, so you get a lot of trust. This is subject matter I've done a lot of thinking about, so obviously they knew to respect my perspective on the world here.

Horror and sci-fi have grand traditions of being able to make political statements while still being able to deliver the goods. Can you talk about how you went about that, saying something pertinent about racism while creating an entertaining popcorn movie?

I feel like all the great horror movies have an underlying real life horror that they are metaphors for. Some do it in more subtle ways or allegorical ways. [Get Out] is really in the tradition of The Stepford Wives, Rosemary's Baby, which are movies about gender, about men making decisions for women behind their backs. I very much patterned this movie after those; taking a cue from those movies because they're first and foremost entertaining popcorn flicks with twists and turns. Then you sort of think about them afterward and I think you realize there's a deeper, real-life horror at play underneath.

Get Out Jordan Peele Interview Allison Williams horror movie

Even though it's certainly funny in parts, it's predominantly a thriller/horror film. Was there a version in your mind that was straight-forward comedy, or was it always the tone we find now?

Pretty much always the tone we find now. On the contrary, there was probably an earlier version that was less comedic. It was just so tense that I knew we would need release in the movie. Tonally, I really looked at movies like Scream for a cue, because I knew the subject matter here carries so much weight; I didn't want to exploit real life suffering in a way that would be a real downer or bummer of an experience. I wanted to make a fun movie.

This is, of course, your first feature as a director. You've been behind-the-scenes on Key & Peele and Keanu, but did you find there was still a learning curve on this project?

There was. I was lucky enough to have found real talent, real geniuses, to surround myself with. Especially early on, you find it's easy to shoot something too much, to not know if you're stopping before you got the better version of it. There is this feeling like, "If we do it again, it'll be better, because now we know what went wrong with it. We can do it all day." Part of the first learning curve was realizing that when you've got it, when you see what you set out to see, you can be done. You don't have to go on and explore for an unknown better version that may or may not be out there.

Get Out Jordan Peele Interview Allison Williams horror movie

Are you interested in sticking with the thriller-horror genre, or at least returning to it in the future?

Yeah. I've been developing several different movies in the category I call 'the social thriller.' They all bite off of a different human demon. Get Out is about several things but obviously it's about race, the next one will be about something else.

Can you picture doing a sequel to GET OUT?

It's a possibility, there are several directions that could go. To be quite honest, artistically, I'm focused on many other ideas, so it's not a priority for me.

But you know how Hollywood works. If it's a hit and they said "We want to do this soon," would you be prepared for that?

I'd be prepared to try to figure it out. I think there are a lot of different ways to do it. I'd be thrilled if Hollywood was interested in paying me a lot of money to develop it. [Laughs]

Extra Tidbit: GET OUT hits theaters on February 24th.

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