The 'Key & Peele' star is only the fifth black filmmaker to be nominated in the Best Director category
How does writer-director Jordan Peele feel about his very first film, the low budget horror movie Get Out, receiving a quartet of Oscar nominations? “You know, I feel very at peace,” he says after the film’s Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Picture nods. “I’m extremely honored, I’m extremely proud of the team, and I feel like the response I’ve received from people who have been inspired by this film has inspired me in turn.”
Peele is only the fifth black filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director and would be the first to win the award. “It means a lot, it means a lot,” he says of that particular nomination. “You know, I think the reason I put off my dream of directing to possibly never happen is because there was such a limited amount of role models, of black role models, in the field. Spike Lee, John Singleton, the Hughes brothers were all very inspiring. But it was just very clear to me from a young age that they were the exceptions to the rule. So, to be able to possibly be one of the people that a young person of color, or a young outsider, can look up to as a sign that it’s possible, is pretty intense and pretty insane. I feel like we’re in a good time right now, where I feel like black directors are the best directors [laughs] right now. I’m just very proud to be part of this renaissance and this class of amazing outsiders that are getting to use their talent.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you learn about the nominations?
JORDAN PEELE: I found out the good old boring way. I woke up, turned on my phone, and found so many warm messages from people. It’s one of those moments where everybody you know that has supported you in big ways or small ways is reaching out and offering love. I hope everybody gets to feel like this.
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You tweeted that you had spoken with your leading man and fellow nominee Daniel Kaluuya, and you had failed at disguising the sound of an “ugly cry.” What exactly was that conversation like?
I basically devolved into a crying mess on the phone with him. He was in a different phase of acceptance. [Laughs] He was laughing in disbelief and just in this state of joy. We were experiencing the same emotion in very different ways. But the phone call just felt like one long bro-hug.
Between Get Out and The Shape of Water, this year’s Oscars nominations represent a very big day for horror.
Yeah. That’s another piece of this that just fills me with pride. It’s my favorite genre. It’s not always respected, I think mainly because you either like horror or you don’t and there are some people that just won’t see it. So, the fact that the word of mouth on this film has pushed people who wouldn’t dabble into this genre — which I think just really takes tremendous precision and artistry — is a real point of pride.
One last question: How does this experience compare to guest-editing an issue of Entertainment Weekly with Keegan-Michael Key?
[Laughs] You know what? Totally different honors. But I’ve got to say it feels like every achievement I’ve been able to do in my life has been leading to this. So, it’s all part of the same joy.